A lot of us are still scratching our heads over Disney’s decision to spend millions of dollars building Pandora—The World of Avatar in its Animal Kingdom park, especially with Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opening so soon. But at least the themed area, which is celebrating its one year anniversary, led to the creation of one of Disney’s most advanced (and seriously impressive) audio-animatronic characters: the Shaman of Songs.
Audio-animatronic isn’t the most accurate way to describe the Shaman. The term was originally trademarked by Disney back in 1964 to describe a technology that used pre-recorded tones to trigger pneumatic movements in animated figures. Today most of the animatronics in Disney’s parks rely on servos, electronics, and other modern technologies that allow for more fluid movement, and even real-time interactions with park guests.
Seeing the Shaman of Songs in action is almost enough to make me want to visit Animal Kingdom’s Pandora—almost. But if Disney offered a behind-the-scenes tour, with a version of the character revealing all of the intricate motors and electronics underneath the blue skin and clothing that make it work, I’d be on a plane to Florida tomorrow.