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In Brief: Walt Disney's Automaton Dream

By Norman Chan

The story of how Walt Disney brought animatronics to Disneyland.

ArsTechnica has a neat story recapping the history of Disneyland's Audio-Animatronics--the most famous one being the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction in the theme park's Main Street. That animatronic premiered at the 1964 New York World's Fair. What many people don't realize is that before robot Lincoln, the word animatronics wasn't in the technical lexicon; Disney and his imagineers pioneered the idea of pairing an analog hydraulics movement system with pre-recorded speech as a means of three-dimensional animation. Along with advances in mechanical puppetry and computerized motion control, Animatronic Lincoln himself has been upgraded through the years--his mouth can now form vowels! This Disney Parks video shows how Imagineers design and build modern animatronics for new park attractions.