Off With Their Heads!: What Is Happening With Disney’s Audio-Animatronics?

Since the update of The Hall Of Presidents, there has been some comments about one of the prime technologies of the Disney theme parks: Audio-Animatronics. The comments have caught steam since the Ursula and Auctioneer animatronics from different parks have been found without their heads in place.

Animatronics are complex technological marvels that allow to express the story being told in Disney’s attractions. Some of these figures require constant maintenance, due to their complexity in their movements. Some of them stop moving due to some technical difficulties, other start vibrating like crazy due to an actuator trying to move. We’ve seen what happens when these AA’s go wrong. Taking into account all of this, it seems that an AA losing its head could be the bottom line for noticeable negligence from maintenance.

For some years, a part of the Disney community has criticized the reduction of maintenance for Audio-Animatronics in the parks, making regular the fact that some figures don’t work. Maybe it isn’t Disney’s fault in some cases, but on the production of Garner Holt.

Since 2013, Walt Disney Imagineering has outsourced the Audio-Animatronics from Garner Holt Productions, the recognized organization in making high quality figures. This doesn’t mean that Disney closed MAPO, the Audio-Animatronics division, all-together. Some insiders like Jim Hill have mentioned that some animatronics (like the Ursula figure from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) and the skins for the figures are done in-house, but most of the creations are outsourced.

It is hard to say that, if Disney now has Garner Holt do all the animatronics, this means that they also outsource all of the maintenance too. This could explains why some figures from several don’t work for a considerable amount of time until a refurb, which allows to repair or replace them in bulk.

Let me be clear that I don’t have any sources from the matter, but it might be the reason some figures just don’t get fixed for a while. These are expensive toys to take care of, but the negligence is much worse as they would later have to replace it. Even though the figures are outsourced, should they outsource the maintenance too?

Ursula and the Auctioneer could just have a bad day, but it makes me wonder how the outsourcing of the Audio-Animatronics affects their maintenance. Yes, outsourcing could be cheaper, but maybe not in the long run. Can they buy Garner Holt altogether? Could be an interesting move, but as new attractions have fewer AA’s, I don’t see that coming soon.

Maybe the answer to all of these figures in decay could be the fact that they need to wait for them to be fixed.

Photos Taken From WDWNT, No Midnight, disneysapsquad.

Author: Rafael Gorrochotegui

Creo en la creatividad como un estilo de vida.