You Need to See These Jaw-Dropping Disney Animatronics That Look Like CGI

Disneyland is a paradise for animation diehards to frolic with the physical manifestations of their favorite movies. By 2020, its amusement park in Japan has plans to take the realism of these attractions to the next level with an army of new animatronics inspired by the characters from Beauty and the Beast. These robots are so life-like they seem like they’re computer graphics instead of a figure made of steel and rubber.

Disney unveiled its progress on what will be a Beauty and the Beast ride attraction, where patrons will ride in teacups as CGI-like animatronic figures dance and sing on a stage. All of this was made possible thanks to the company’s “Imagineers,” a specialized team of engineers, architects, and artists that research and develop its theme parks. Disney has this division since the 1950s, but modern technology and cross-team collaboration was responsible for such jaw-dropping early results.

disney animatronics
Belle looks like a straight up computer graphic.

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“We’re working with the Walt Disney animation studios to get their model and get their animation and then our team here engineers them, builds them, and then we program them using the animation from the studios,” said Liana Zorn, the Imagineering creative technical director.

This project involved translating the older animations from the original 1991 Beaty and the Beast movie that was made using Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) to more modern software, like Maya or Disney’s proprietary Presto software. The Imagineers were then in charge of creating what was on the screen in real life. This involves creating a controllable, steel skeleton for the characters and building out its details by sculpting various materials and attaching them onto the frame.

This new attraction won’t be open until 2020, but now that Disney has revealed teased its next generation realistic animatronics, it likely won’t be long until we see them in its other theme parks. There are eleven Disneylands around the world, if Japan’s is a hit, we expect all eleven could soon get their own version of the upcoming Beauty and the Beast ride.

The days of creepy Chuck E Cheese animatronics are over, now it’ll be hard to tell if you’re looking at a CGI hologram or a robot.

Media via Disney