Disney Disney Parks and Resorts The Walt Disney Company

Disney Parks: Get Ready for Robots!

So much for the Carousel of Progress! Walking animatronics may soon “enhance” the Disney experience for some guests (although others are not so sure)…

In a fascinating story from The New York Times, Brooks Barnes wrote about having to track “Groot” to a warehouse in Glendale, California, and interacting with the child-size robot version of the Marvel hero.

“He was about three feet tall and ambled toward me with wide eyes, as if he had discovered a mysterious new life form. He looked me up and down and introduced himself,” wrote Barnes, penning a story many people still can’t fathom. “When I remained silent, his demeanor changed. His shoulders slumped, and he seemed to look at me with puppy dog eyes. ‘Don’t be sad,’ I blurted out. He grinned and broke into a little dance before balancing on one foot with outstretched arms.”

Groot, Robot, Disney, Imagineering
Image: Disney/Tech Crunch

What Would Walt Think of Robots?

The proverbial question Disney-types ask is, “What would Walt think?”

Well, we know that answer.

Walt Disney
Image: Disney

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible…”

Walt Disney

And my guess is that ol’ Walt probably would have pushed for this kind of innovation sooner.

After all, he also said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Image: Walt Disney Imagineering/NYT

Thank goodness for that. But today’s Imagineers aren’t just looking to keep Disneyland up-to-date. They persist in keeping all of Walt’s parks viable for future generations.

As the article mentioned robots and Disney are somewhat synonymous.

However, in order to keep up with the world in general, Imagineers can’t simply “imagine” the future, they must actually build it.

“A new trend that is coming into our animatronics is a level of intelligence,” Jon Snoddy, a senior Imagineering executive told the times. “More believable. More outrageous.”

“This guy represents our future,” he said of the Groot robot. “It’s part of how we stay relevant.”

A Must Read

I’ll leave you to read the entire article (the paywall seems to have been lifted); however, Chairman of Disney Parks Josh D’Amaro had a prescient quote:

“We have an obligation to our fans, to our guests, to continue to evolve, to continue to create experiences that look new and different and pull them in,” he said. “To make sure the experience is fresh and relevant.”

Here’s hoping.

BTW: Nerdist also wrote about the piece and reminded readers about the below video:

Finally, it won’t be hard to find the naysayers about the above project. Just look at the number of references you find for “Westworld” when you find the original tweets to the NYT article. “We fear change…”

About Post Author

A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern University, John Bishop, became the beat reporter for BostonBruins.com before the Boston Bruins 2006-07 NHL hockey season. While with the Black & Gold, “^BISH” traveled North America and Europe to cover the team's every move via laptop, blog, and smartphone. The co-author of two books, "Bygone Boston" and "Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins," John also covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the Bs 2011 Stanley Cup championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea, and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke, in central Massachusetts.

Leave a Reply