Animatronics are NOT Disney World’s Future. Here’s Why.

Disney World rides have changed a ton over the years!

EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

From carousels and spinning teacups to an omnicoaster with a reverse launch, Disney has been at the forefront of revolutionizing theme park rides since Disneyland opened in 1955. Disney attractions have become extremely innovative, and one of the most influential developments in Disney rides has been adding screens.

When Disney first started adding screens to their rides, it was a technological marvel. Star Tours introduced not only the first (at the time) non-Disney intellectual property to the Disney parks, but also Disney’s first simulator ride. The flight simulator would take guests on a journey through some of Star Wars’ most iconic locations. The ride was later updated with Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, which includes  prequel and sequel Star Wars locations.

Star Tours

Star Tours brought a timeless entity to the Disney Parks, and with it, a whole lot of interest. Disney started using screens in more of their rides to take guests places they’d never gone before, like a sky-high flight over the Earth’s greatest landmarks in Soarin’ Around the World in EPCOT, and to the planet Pandora on the back of a banshee in Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Both of these rides utilize screens to create effects that practical props and sets can’t.

Flight of Passage ride vehicles

Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Toy Story Midway Mania both have a game element that’s made possible by screens. Whether it’s piloting a Star Wars ship or throwing virtual darts at virtual balloons, the technology of these rides gives guests something else to do other than just sit and watch, making them some of the most engaging rides on Disney property.

Toy Story Midway Mania

The newest screen ride development we’ve seen has been the screens that accompany trackless rides like Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT respectively. These unique ride vehicles move through the attraction without the need for a track, and with screens, these rides are a sleek and efficient addition to Disney World’s roster.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway  ©Disney

We recently rode EPCOT’s newest attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which also heavily featured screens. This ride felt like a mixture between Space Mountain and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, both of which take place indoors in the dark. The addition of screens feels natural for an attraction that isn’t relying on any light. If you’re gonna set a ride in the dark, might as well have screens so that the things you do see are in the highest possible quality!

Just projections!

So why is Disney putting so many screens in their rides, and why do we think we’re gonna keep seeing them for a while? There are a couple of reasons. The first being that having a screen in a ride means that the ride is very adaptable.

Have you ever been the Rebel Spy?

Star Tours, for example, was able to have a complete overhaul without any major construction because the world of that ride is on the screen. Screens allowed Star Tours: The Adventure Continues to update the original attraction to include new Star Wars movies as they came out, which adds a lot of revisit value to the attraction.

Lando Calrissian

The screens can be updated with whatever Disney wants! They could even hypothetically update Flight of Passage when the second Avatar movie, Avatar: The Way of Water comes out. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to screen rides!

Avatar Animatronic in Flight of Passage Queue

They are also easier for Disney to maintain than a ride that has more practical sets and animatronics. We’ve all seen pictures of hilarious animatronic malfunctions, but with a screen, Disney doesn’t have to worry about any of that. As long as the ride system itself is in tact, there’s nothing stopping them!

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ©Disney

Love them or hate them, screen rides are an extremely adaptable ride system that has yielded Disney some amazing results. They’ve worked in just about every universe that Disney owns from a galaxy far, far away, to the cartoon world of Mickey Mouse, and we probably haven’t seen the last of them.

Click here to see Our Takeaways from Riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 12 Times in One Day!

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What’s your favorite screen ride? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Replies to “Animatronics are NOT Disney World’s Future. Here’s Why.”

  1. Projections may be simple and seem to look cool, but the animatronics are mechanical works of art that look more real than video. Just my opinion.

  2. And……A screen is a lot cheaper to put in than several animatronics! It is sad that is where all the industry is going (and with Universal has gone quite awhile ago) but at least the hi-res projections are excellent. I just don’t like using 3-D glasses on some of the attractions.

    1. Same!!! I honestly don’t feel like flight of passage would be much different if it wasn’t in 3D. The glasses are annoying…Especially the last two years…with a mask on they just immediately fogged up which greatly took away from the experience.

    2. Horizons had screens. If You Had Wings and Delta Dreamflight had projections. But all three also had practical sets. So screens aren’t necessarily new, but there has been a shift. They’re becoming the main attraction, and that bugs me a little. (But I adore Soarin’, so I can’t say they’re always bad…)