Watch Disney's New Robot Go for a Flip

March 10, 2023, 2:50 PM · Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro showed off a couple new innovations from Walt Disney Imagineering during a presentation at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

"Disney’s 100-year legacy is built on the intersection of creativity, innovation, and storytelling," D'Amaro said. "We're humbled by the fact that millions of people choose Disney as their vacation destination every year to escape into our beloved stories. To our guests around the world, I want to tell you that we’ve only just begun."

In his "Creating Happiness: The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling" presentation, D'Amaro brought out the Incredible Hulk meet and greet character that appeared last year at Disney California Adventure. But he also showed that WDI could work in the opposite direction, too, by crafting a much smaller character for a Disney meet and greet.

Meeting Tinker Bell at SXSW. Photo courtesy Disney

The life-sized (which, in this case, means "tiny") Tinker Bell can have a live conversation with guests, allowing the character to come to life in a different way in the parks, where Tink has been a human-sized face character up until now.

D'Amaro also welcomed to the stage a presentation of a new dynamic robot, developed by WDI. The roller-skating "Judy Hopps" robot can tumble as well as slide, completing a somersault for the festival audience.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Disney Parks (@disneyparks)

"The dynamic robot incorporates motion-capture data to create performances that evoke emotion, giving Disney Imagineers a new way to bring out a characters’ personality," Disney said in a press release about D'Amaro's presentation.

For more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

And for our reader rankings and advice on visiting Disney and other top theme parks across the country and around the world, please visit our our Theme Park listings page.

Replies (6)

March 10, 2023 at 10:27 PM

I gotta say that "Slave Tinker Bell" was not on my Bingo Card for Disney's meet and greet opportunities.

March 12, 2023 at 3:28 PM

Yeah, the Boston Dynamics robots have been flipping, spinning, doing all that for years.

Dear Disney: please stop spending money on derivative crap and get your current rides in GOOD WORKING ORDER.

March 13, 2023 at 10:44 PM

Who (or, more accurately, what) do you think is going to do all that work fixing the rides? /s

March 14, 2023 at 9:49 AM

I was thinking the same thing Robert. When has WDI been responsible for attraction maintenance? While WDI does lend its expertise and staff to perform high-level repairs and troubleshooting, I highly doubt a significant amount of time spent by Imagineers working on R&D (like this robotics project) would ever touch an operating attraction.

March 15, 2023 at 12:47 PM

thecolonel is such a troll. All he ever does is constantly bitch and complain about Disney. There's a guy on Mice Chat, Mr. Wiggins, who does the same. Wouldn't be surprised if they're the same person.

I don't see why he even bothers posting. We all know what he's going to say. He probably hasn't visited a Disney park in decades, yet he just keeps bitching.

March 15, 2023 at 12:51 PM

What I find hilarious about thecolonel's posts is that they're frequently critical of the Disney experience, yet they have frequently commented on staying at the Grand Californian when visiting the Disneyland Resort. How can you criticize Disney profiting through Genie+, complain about the parks moving to more automated systems (like Mobile Order and Virtual Queue), and have the audacity to stay at one of the most expensive resort hotels Disney offers? If the additional upcharges and reduced attention to detail really bothered you, take it out on Disney by staying at a less expensive (or dare I say off-site) hotel when you visit the parks. Or here's another solution, don't go at all (or visit less frequently) if you want to voice your opinion through your wallet.

That's what we've done. We've spent probably half as many days in Disney parks over the past 5 years than we did in the previous 5 (granted some of that was due to the pandemic - though we did visit parks on both coasts within the 6 months prior to COVID shutting everything down).

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive