Avatar Cleans Up: Stunning exclusive video showcases new Avatar Audio Animatronics at Animal Kingdom!

It’s Déjà vu all over again.

Remember back in 2006 when Expedition Everest opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Walt Disney Imagineering’s Joe Rohde was all over the Internet touting the star of the attraction: an amazing new Audio Animatronic Yeti. The Yeti was poised to be the breakthrough of the attraction, a technological tour de force. Disney featured him extensively in PR materials explaining the lavish details of this figure and how unprecedented it was. We learned that the power of the 23-foot tall Yeti’s mechanics rivaled a jumbo jet and needed its own massive steel structure and foundation to support it. WOW! The fan base was riled up to see this stunning breakthrough and was ready to be blown away by its terrifying realism.

Looks good in a still frame, not so much when you are shooting past on a roller coaster.

Of course it broke almost immediately after opening. Because of the (what we now know is a flawed) design the yeti could not easily be repaired. Walt Disney Imagineering was stuck in an impossibly awkward situation: the lynch-pin that the entire storyline hinged on, it’s superstar and Disney’s crowning achievement had been turned into a statue. The Yeti, now a motionless mannequin, was missed entirely by most riders who exited the attraction confused as to what all the hype was about. Put simply it was an embarrassing mess.

Disney had few options. Unable to shut the ride down for over a year to correct the issue and unwilling to spend millions more on top of the millions already wasted they came up with a stopgap solution: Imagineering set up a strobe light on the figure. This makeshift quick fix did little to rectify the issue and left guests nonplussed. Today riders zoom past the still hobbled Yeti in a blink and you miss it moment and there is no mention of the figure in any PR materials at all.

Now more then ten years later Joe Rohde is once again firing up his reality distortion field targeting fans and press with talk about a new crop of amazingly complex Audio Animatronic figures being added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, this time at the upcoming Na’vi River Journey in the soon to open Pandora: The World of Avatar attraction. After a previous tease at the D23 expo Disney released a video in November showing one of the new figures and simply put it is stunning. Please take a moment and watch it:

This time instead of sheer size Disney went for incredible realism, nuance and detail, many people did not believe that this was a robotic figure at all. For the first time facial expressions, eye movements, subtle mouth gestures and more could be conveyed with an Audio Animatronic, these figures could truly emote! They promised to actually act and connect with audiences like nothing else before them.

Immediately skeptical fans started joking that these figures would also break within weeks of opening. With the Yeti fiasco still fresh in their minds bloggers theorized that Disney would again do something ridiculous such as replacing the non-functioning Avatar figures with a Mop and hope for the best. Disney had lost the trust of their fans.

But as it turns out Disney has learned a lot from the strobe-lit Yeti. They are aware that anything this complex will have some failures and down time but this time they are prepared. Disney will not be caught off guard again and have developed an elaborate backup plan with replacements ready to be swapped in at a moments notice. Fans need not fear that a mop in a wig will become the new star of the show.

Here for the first time ever we have footage of the new replacement figure, check out the amazing video:

But that is not enough for Disney! They are so concerned that the animatronic figures will be available for all guests to see that they have created a backup plan in case the original backup plan fails! This is the NASA approach of redundant fail-safes or the belt and suspenders approach if you will.

In addition to the first backup plan known as Maintenance Operations Protocol System (AKA: M.O.P.S.) Disney has also created an equally amazing plan they are calling the Backup Redundant Ongoing Operational Maintenance System) AKA: B.R.O.O.M.S.).

Between M.O.P.S. and B.R.O.O.M.S. it appears that Disney will avoid the shameful embarrassment of the Yeti and will never again present such sub-par show standards to the public.

We have obtained an exclusive look backstage at the new figures and the team who created them. Please enjoy the amazing magic of The World of Avatar (M.O.P.S. and B.R.O.O.M.S. mode below:

We are excited to see that Disney has spared no expense in creating these new systems to virtually guarantee a seamless experience full of wonder and joy for all guests and we must agree with Avatar creator and Oscar winning director James Cameron when he correctly states that we have never seen anything like it before.


Comments (11)

  1. What was the Yeti supposed to do? Swing it’s arm really fast? When I rode Expedition Everest in 2012 I didn’t see it at all, there was no strobe light, it was just dark.

    • Many people miss the yeti altogether, it does not help that they have staged him differently over the years as well. But yes, basically he was designed to sort of lunge at you while his arm swatted at you. The yeti is huge so to get this arm to move quickly was a big deal I guess. The thing is that even in that brief window when it worked it was just not that impressive.

      I think standing in a room next to the yeti would be super impressive. You could appreciate how detailed he is and how large he is and all of that. But flying past him at the very end of a ride with absolutely nothing to give you scale and mostly in the dark just destroys any sense of awe. You never could understand that he was really big and you are moving so fast you are more or less past him before you understand what’s happening.

      Now Joe Rhode will tell you that was intentional. That they wanted guests to question what they saw or did they see anything at all. Is the yeti real or just a story. Yea, ok, I’m sure they thought hard about that but this is a ride at the end of the day. Giving guests a fleeting glimpse of the ride’s star never felt intriguing or mysterious as much as just a rip off. I also never liked that you see him seconds before unloading. He should be mid ride where you feel as though you are far away from civilization.

      Compare the yeti to the Lava Monster from Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo Disney Sea. You have a huge build up to him and when you see him you REALLY see him. You literally stop next to him. He is well lit, he looms over you. He rears back, roars and lunges at you… then your car takes off fast. It’s much more satisfying and theatrical… and he works every time to boot.

  2. I wonder if they will start to sell “make your own m.o.p.s” kits in the gift shop? Limited edition m.o.p.s anyone?

    • Suzy, that is an incredible idea! Choose your mop handle (oak, maple, plastic) your mop head (classic white, Avatar blue, etc.) and then you can buy all sorts of little googly eyes and hair decorations. Mini Brooms as well… they will make a mint!

      • Don’t forget ear hats, trading pins and action figures.

        • This stuff sells itself. I mop hat with ears would blow off the shelves faster then they could stock them.

  3. I cannot wait to buy a MOPS tee.

    • Ha! How about MOP plush dolls, they will sell millions.

  4. Two questions: 1. where did you get the inspiration for this post, and 2. did it involve consuming a bag of Funyons because you had the munchies?

    Speaking of the Yeti, what do you guys think are the top Disney park failures of all time? Does the handwich make the list?

    • 1) We have an inside connection at WDI who set us up with the video.

      2) I like Bugles better.

      Handwich rocks BTW. Did you ever read our post about them?

      • Yes, I read the post about handwiches. If not for Parkeology, I would’ve never known about them. Never had the pleasure of partaking in one.

        Bulges are also a good choice.

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