Audio-Animatronics have been an integral part of Disney theme parks since Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room first opened at Disneyland in 1963. After other key early examples like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the art form of the animatronic evolved over the next five decades to reach a state where the figures are almost uncannily lifelike.
Now Disney is preparing to open its highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge areas at Disneyland and Walt Disney World this year, and today it unveiled (via a fascinating article in Popular Mechanics) a new Audio-Animatronic depicting the character of Hondo Ohnaka from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated television series. Created by Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, California, Hondo will greet guests as part of the pre-show briefing for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction in Galaxy’s Edge.
- Walt Disney Imagineering has created a lifelike Hondo Ohnaka Audio-Animatronic character to become part of the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction pre-show at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
- The Hondo figure has been through visualization, conceptualization, and construction stages since December of 2015, four months after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was first announced at D23 Expo.
- When installed in Galaxy’s Edge, Hondo will be one of the most advanced Audio-Animatronics in any Disney park, part of the next-generation A1000 series.
- He has 51 total functions, including ten in his head alone.
- There is a speaker in his chest creating directional sound and a bend in his knee, creating the illusion that Hondo can walk.
- Hondo is once again voiced by actor Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh), who played the role on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
Watch A1000 Advanced Robotics at Walt Disney Imagineering:
What they’re saying:
- “We work years to see this moment. He’s been on the computer for so long, when he’s right there in front of you…it’s amazing. He moves, he talks, and has a personality. Hondo is real to us. He’s such an amazing and dynamic character.” – Kathryn Yancey, Walt Disney Imagineering show mechanical engineer
According to the article, there will be more Star Wars characters coming to Audio-Animatronic form at Galaxy’s Edge, but Disney isn’t saying which ones just yet. We may have to wait until the new land opens this summer at Disneyland in California (and this fall at Walt Disney World in Florida) to find out.