Disney Unveils New Animatronics for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!

As the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure draws ever closer (though no official date has been announced yet), Disney continues to unveil new teasers about what we can look forward to. This week they shared a sneak peek at several of the new characters coming our way, guaranteed to get your toes tapping!

This group of musicians is hoping to hit the big time at Tiana’s celebration during Mardi Gras season. The musical tapestry of New Orleans is woven with traditions and voices from all over the world, and this week we were introduced to the who bring the jazzy sounds and complex rhythms of Afro-Cuban music to life in the bayou. And here they are, Mayra, Felipe, Isabel, and Mondo!

Mayra and Felipe from Tiana's Bayou Adventure      Isabel and Mondo from Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Mayra the Frog – Have you ever seen a frog play a flower blossom like a trumpet? You will when you meet Mayra; be sure to stick around for one of her toe-tapping solos. Mayra’s the most ambitious of the four frogs and has been practicing her instrument since she was just a tadpole!

Felipe the Frog – Deep among the cypress trees, you’ll hear band leader Felipe making musical magic on the piano! Felipe is also the proprietor of an exclusive bayou night club, where the local fireflies love to dance the night away to a musical recipe of hot rhythms and spicy melodies. He’s an old-school family guy, especially to his “family” in the band.

Isabel the Green Tree Frog – Learning from Mondo’s example, Isabel loves getting lost in the music playing her congas. She’s the youngest member of the group, and there’s nothing she loves more than “going with the flow” and getting to play drums all night long!

Mondo the Frog – Mondo is a natural on the conga drums, which he made as a happy accident when his favorite bottle cap got stuck on his second-favorite acorn. From there, the rhythm in Mondo’s soul took over! He’s very copacetic and accepts what comes, a trait as steady and reliable as his drumbeat.


New Animatronics at Tiana's Bayou Adventure

From Zydeco to Rara to Afro-Cuban jazz, you’ll hear all kinds of musical flavors from critters big and small around the bayou, just like you would walking the streets of the French Quarter in the Crescent City. Of course, not everyone you’ll meet in the attraction is a musician – among others are a couple of amphibious friends who love to sit back, relax and catch up on all the gossip from around the bayou. Gloria and Delores the frogs are best friends who love to observe folks as they float in logs down the bayou. Don’t be surprised if they keep their watchful eyes on you as you float by.

Also, keep an eye out for Lari the armadillo. This mischievous fella, while quiet in demeanor, seems to always show up where you least expect him to. He also has a habit of “borrowing” things that aren’t his (although those things eventually make it into the right “paws”).

Speaking of critters big and small, you’ll meet them throughout the attraction, and some really are … big, with an even bigger personality.


More Animatronic Magic

Disney also unveiled a few of the new Animatronics that will be part of the new attraction. The technology behind Disney’s Animatronics goes all the way back to, appropriately enough, New Orleans in the 1940s. It was there that Walt Disney discovered an antique mechanical singing bird. This discovery sparked his fascination with three-dimensional animation, and after returning home to California, he tasked his Imagineers with dismantling the bird to learn how it worked — laying the groundwork for Audio-Animatronics figures.

One of the early breakthroughs came with “Project Little Man,” where Disney Legends Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers crafted a series of miniature human figures. These figures, culminating in one programmed with cams, cables and tubes to mimic tap-dancing routines performed by actor Buddy Ebsen, showcased the potential of lifelike movements. (You can see the remnants of Project Little Man at the “Walt Disney Presents” exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, be sure to check it out if you’re a fan of Disney history!)

Another Animatronic milestone occurred when Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened in Disneyland in 1963. Originally intended to be a dinner-theater experience featuring an Animatronic Confucius (really!!), the groundbreaking attraction featured over 200 singing birds, flowers, plants, and tiki statues (not to mention an iconic song courtesy of the legendary Sherman Brothers!). Throughout the 1960s, the first-generation Audio-Animatronics figures, known as A-1 (so named because each individual internal cylinder required its own control channel) continued to arrive at attractions such as the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. But it would be the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair that marked a true turning point in Disney history. This was the debut of the world’s first fully animated human figure, President Abraham Lincoln, “star” of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. This lifelike representation captivated audiences and set a new standard for immersive storytelling.

Over time, Audio-Animatronic characters evolved in complexity and sophistication. The technology reached another milestone in 1989 with the debut of the A-100 figure. This new generation of figures incorporated advanced compliance technology, allowing for smoother and more lifelike movements. What is compliance technology? To understand what this means, let’s examine one of the limitations of early Animatronics; their fluidity of movement, or rather, lack of fluidity. Think about an arm lowering and raising. In early Animatronics, movement was basically an on-or-off/start-stop proposition. In the case of an arm, it would move at a constant speed, abruptly starting and stopping on a dime. But this led to some minor problems. For instance, if the arm moved too fast and stopped too suddenly, the momentum would create vibrations, causing the whole figure to shake. One way to solve that problem was to simply make the arm move slower. Unfortunately, our arms don’t move that slow in real life, and the animators grew frustrated since this limitation prevented them from creating realistic movement.

To solve this problem, a new technology called compliance was introduced. Continuing with our example, compliance allows the arm to continue moving past the point where it is programmed to stop and then return quickly to the “intended” position, just like your arm does in real life (try it for yourself!). Compliance technology also allows the arm to slow to a stop rather than ending its motion abruptly, creating a more natural-looking movement.This technology allowed for faster, more realistic movement without sacrificing control.

One of the new figures that utilizes this technology is The Shaman of Songs in Na’vi River Journey. The fluidity and grace of the Shaman’s movements is simply breathtaking, and it’s hard to believe that this is not a living being. The impressive figure seamlessly blends cutting-edge technology with artistic storytelling, stands nearly 10 feet tall, and employs new technologies to imbue her every gesture with fluid energy.

The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge marked another leap in Audio-Animatronics technology with the introduction of the A-1000 figure platform. This latest generation of figures boasts significant enhancements in range, speed and overall performance, particularly evident in the Hondo Audio-Animatronic figure in Smugglers Run.

And that brings us to today. Disney’s most advanced Audio-Animatronics figures yet are set to arrive in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, building on their legacy of immersive storytelling with even more technological sophistication. Here’s a look at some of the new figures we’ll be seeing soon as part of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!

Tiana Animatronic unveiled at Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Louis Animatronic unveiled at Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Mama Odie Animatronic unveiled at Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Ralphie Animatronic unveiled at Tiana's Bayou Adventure

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