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A First Look at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Next-Generation Audio-Animatronics Figures


If you were among the guests invited to the Disney Social Media Moms event out in California, then you were among the first to see this short video from Walt Disney Imagineering highlighting a few of the next-generation audio-animatronics that will populate the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom.

The video has now been released for everyone to enjoy. Take a look:

What do you think about the new style audio-animatronics? The body movements look great in this video, but the faces I’m not so sure about. I haven’t yet experienced Radiator Springs, which uses similar combinations of projection and moving parts to simulate mouth and eyelid movement. But I’ve seen it on video and these dwarf’s faces look similar.

I have to give Disney credit for not just re-using the old static figures from the Snow White’s Scary Adventures attraction. That’s totally what they would have done in the past. The new Disney is more committed to using the latest technology and plussing the show.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as an uncanny valley for cartoon characters, but the dwarfs are definitely resting on the edge of it for me. My son thinks they’re a little creepy, I tend to agree, but I will with hold judgement until I see them installed on the attraction. But right now I find it almost too lifelike for the cartoon world of Snow White. What do you think?

3 thoughts on “A First Look at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Next-Generation Audio-Animatronics Figures”

  1. I think they look great!! To me they no longer feel like moving dolls but my favorite characters jumping out of the movies. Their movements are great and the faces have are right in the money if you ask me. I feel like I’ve seen this used somewhere else but I can’t put my finger on it…. On yea! Mr. Potatoe head at Hollywood Studios for Toy Story Mania :) and I’m pretty sure he’s a fan favorite. I’m really impressed with what they’re doing with this ride. Can’t wait to experience it. I’m sure if I’m as pleased and taken back as I was with the rest of fantasyland I’ll love it. Mind you, I was not a fan if the expansion at all.

  2. The final scene in the video illustrates a weakness in the technique: the mouth movements do not produce corresponding movement in the head, such as the beard not moving up and down.

    In some previous uses of this projection, such as Mr. Potato Head, projection was limited to eyes, with animatronics used for other movements. This allowed the character to seem more real.

    Another issue with projection is that the projected portion of the character seems brighter than the rest, because it’s projecting light rather than reflecting it. That’s going to be noticeable in the dark mine setting.

    On the plus side, this technique discourages flash photography, because the projected portions do not appear — just a blank face.

  3. I think they look pretty good. A similar technique, albeit less advanced, is employed on the speaking Buzz Lightyear at Space Ranger Spin and it’s pretty effective there. The Dwarves look really good in this video, like the cartoon come to life.

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