animatronics

Two of my favourite things!

Those two favourite things being 1) The Terrifyingly Good Engineering Work That Goes Into The Disney Parks and 2) The Concept of Submechanophobia, Which I Definitely Have, But Viewed Safely From Behind A Computer Screen.

I am interested to know that the Disney submarine ride triggered submechanophobia in some people! But for me it was always that damn Jaws ride, an entire theme park away from the Magic Kingdom and now sadly departed. Can’t blame Disney for that one. I can blame them from not taking better care of their Nautiluses, Giant Squids and Sea Serpents though. Dammit Disney.

That Disneyparks parade fire

Hey remember when the Maleficent float caught fire in the Disneyworld parade a few years back? Today I was arsing about on the Internet with nothing to do and I found a closeup video of it.

And I must give A MASSIVE SHOUT-OUT to the poor actor playing Prince Philip and his wonderful facial expressions here.

“Hi kids! Don’t worry about what all those people opposite are looking at and I won’t either.”

“oh god it’s really close behind me isn’t it”

“keep it together man, keep it together”

“OH FUCKING HELL THE FUCKING DRAGON IS ON FIRE”

“Uh should I… do something? In… in character?”

“Yeah you know what I’m not paid enough for this”

“Oh crap I forgot to smile! THAT’S WAY WORSE! Crap crap crap crap!”

“Okay stay calm dude you can salvage this with a cape-flip. philip out.”

FIX THE YETI!

One of my lesser-known obsessions is animatronics, especially the stuff which comes out of Disney. For example, the other day I saw this-

and I felt honest-to-god very sad, although admittedly that may be just the pandemic and the lockdown and the uncertainty getting to me.

But hey, while we’re on the subject of Disney animatronics, let me tell you the story of one of my favourite ones! This one:

THE YETI!

Poor, poor Yeti. Disney had such high hopes for him and he was SO expensive. I mean, look at him moving! That sort of technology doesn’t come cheap. They built a whole rollercoaster around him! Heavily promoted him as one of the most sophisticated robotic creations out there! And then he broke.

Now the Yeti is in “Disco Mode” which means he basically has a light under him to give the illusion of movement. Because if he actually moves too much, he’ll damage the actual rollercoaster itself and, uh, we don’t want that. The Disney corporation also surprisingly considers that human lives > one multi-million hairy boi. So for almost a decade now, the Yeti has been unmoving while it lurks over passengers.

Here’s what the Yeti’s boss, I mean Imagineer Joe Rohde, said about the situation back in 2013:

“You have to understand, it’s a giant complicated machine sitting on top of, like, a 46-foot tall tower in the middle of a finished building. So, it’s really hard to fix, but we are working on it. And we continue to work on it. We have tried several ‘things’, none of them quite get to the key, turning of the 40-foot tower inside of a finished building, but we are working on it… I will fix the Yeti someday, I swear.

So that got me thinking… Disneyworld is obviously closed for the time being. Maybe, ONCE the coronavirus has retreated to a safe distance (human lives still > one multi-million hairy boi) they could keep Animal Kingdom closed for just a little bit longer, depending on how things go with regard to opening very crowded places, and finally/safely fix the yeti?

Anyway here he is in his original glory back in 2006.

The Buzzy Saga

Pssst. Bored while on lockdown? Why not take to the wonderful world of Disneyparks vlogging and treat yourself to the fascinatingly ridiculous saga of Buzzy, the dearly departed Epcot animatronic?

It’s like watching a murder mystery unfold in real life, except with far fewer stakes because the victim is a puppet. Enjoy:



It’s the ’10s and Buzzy has been out of a job for quite some time. Disney being Disney, once they decomissioned the ride he was part of (Cranium Command in Epcot) they just… left him there. Obviously the area he was in was inaccessible to all but staff, but Buzzy was still there, just sitting around smiling with childlike innocence in the dark.

He was quite beloved to Epcot fans I gather, but whatever. It’s Disney. Then in late 2018 it all suddenly kicks off! Buzzy’s clothes have been stolen. Or has Buzzy himself been stolen?!

A Twitter account called DreamfinderGuy, who says he’s spoken to someone else known as BackDoorDisney, claims that Buzzy was ripped outta the old attraction wires and all.

Inside job? Very possibly! But either way, somebody’s hands are RED hydraulic-fluid-coloured I guess a sort of yellowish-orange? with the BLOOD of Buzzy.

Offhand Disney lays out the basics in January 2019, making fabulously silly use of film noir tropes. They interview BackdoorDisney, who claims to have seen a police report regarding Buzzy. This will be important for later!

Everyone wants to know WHO TOOK BUZZY?!?! Some people in the comments of that video appear to point the finger at the guy who did this urban exploration trip into the unused bits of Epcot in 2017 (getting what was probably the last known footage of poor Buzzy:)

It was not him. (He did get banned from Disney though.)

NOW apparently at around the time that stealthy video was taken Buzzy had a “do not destroy” tag on him put there by Disney! So Disney was apparently planning to move him somewhere, just don’t ask me how or where because MAN Disney is wasteful as hell when it comes to the cool stuff they own, those beautiful submarines from the 20000 Leagues ride ended up rotting in a junkyard even!

See?!?! (Picture from this amazing archive here.)

But anyway…

THEN May 2019 rolls around and THIS HAPPENS:

That’s… that’s Buzzy’s FACE!

Unsuprisingly BackDoorDisney, who is actually a man called Patrick Spikes, was arrested. PATRICK SPIKES? Okay, that… sounds like a too-on-the-nose name Disney would make up for a movie about a baddie who goes around murdering innocent robots. The situation gets weirder!

His Twitter account, which amassed more than 17,000 followers before going dark last week, promised to give fans an inside view of Disney World. In its seven months of operation, the account uploaded pictures of Disney control rooms, secret maps, and Disney cast members pretending to have sex while dressed as characters from Toy Story.

Value your childhood? Don’t click that link.

The people who are in charge of putting out these things released a PDF of the details. Turns out Spikes was ACTUALLY arrested back in December 2018, before he spoke Offhand Disney and made out he didn’t know what was going on. He’d altered a search warrant and stuck it up on YouTube to make it look like he was innocent. Oh and he had ALSO stolen a bunch of other expensive Disney stuff from the Haunted Mansion and thereabouts.

Now at around this point the NBA comes in. (Yep) Spikes sold some of his ill-gotten gains to NBA player Robin Lopez, apparently specifically telling him they weren’t stolen. Some of these things were Buzzy’s aforementioned clothes and his headset it seems. Poor Buzzy was probably dismantled at around that point. Awww man.

Here’s Offhand Disney discussing their interview with Spikes:

And from The Daily Beast:

In July, police alleged, Spikes printed a fake Disney employee card for his cousin and snuck him into the park. The pair allegedly snuck into the Haunted Mansion, a popular ride, and stole a collection of wigs and outfits from backstage. The clothes, which were designed for the ride’s animatronic ghosts, cost between $40 (a tiara) and $1,746 (a robot’s jacket), adding up to more than $7,000.

Spikes and his cousin allegedly took pictures throughout the heist, and posed in the wigs at a nearby 7-Eleven. A video from shortly after the theft allegedly shows Spikes’ cousin’s girlfriend wearing a robot’s stolen dress.

(Wouldn’t “Robot’s Stolen Dress” be a great name for a band?)

Anyway, there’s even a video of Spikes being questioned by the police and it is… weird.

Oh, and according to the police report, Spike and his magnificently named cousin Blaytin (also in on things) whipped up a fake employee ID with the name “Jack D Marrow” on it. Jack Marrow… like… Jack Sparrow? Geez it’s like they wanted to be caught. Anyway

A former Walt Disney World employee has been sentenced to a decade of probation and 250 hours of community service after pleading guilty to stealing costumes and props from Magic Kingdom, some of which he allegedly sold online.

On Tuesday, Patrick Spikes was served 10 years of probation, hundreds of community service hours and restitution, plus orders to stay away from Disney parks, WESH reports. The Winter Garden, Fla. man and his cousin Blaytin Taunton, also a former Disney World employee, were arrested in May 2019 for allegedly using their Disney IDs to sneak into the theme park and steal memorabilia.

And…

“I’m going to Disney World,” WESH reports that he declared, apparently referencing the famous phrase often shouted by Super Bowl champs after victory on the field.

He, ur, he did not go to Disney World.

And that’s the whole Buzzy Saga, for now! Poor thing probably ended up faceless in a dump somewhere, but on the other hand Disney does that to a lot of their stuff anyway

…Words cannot describe how much I love this stupid wacky robot-theft story, and I want it turned into a dumb heist movie like, now. (Just not one made by Disney.)

Life-Size SPIDER-MAN Stunt Animatronic Will Swing Above Disney’s Avengers Campus — Nerdist

Sometime this year, the Marvel Universe will arrive at the Disneyland Resort when Avengers Campus opens at California Adventure in Anaheim. We’ve seen in concept art already released that Spider-Man can be seen swinging around the campus, just as he does in the movies. But that was all just pie-in-the-sky concept art, right? Nope. It…

Life-Size SPIDER-MAN Stunt Animatronic Will Swing Above Disney’s Avengers Campus — Nerdist

1) This is an amazing feat of engineering!

2) I’m so worried it’s gonna fall on someone.