Back at the end of May, Disney opened an Avatar-themed area (Pandora: World of Avatar) within its Animal Kingdom park. Given that it’s only been open for a few weeks, most folks still haven’t been inside — but if you do go, do yourself a favor and take the time to check out the Na’vi River Journey ride. The end of the ride features an animatronic Na’vi (Avatar’s blue humanoid species), and it’s easily one of the finest examples of animatronics ever built.
At our TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics event in Boston this afternoon, we got a look at what’s going on inside.
When it’s all sealed up, the Na’vi Shaman looks like this:
But pull back the mask, and an incredible, beautifully complex array of robotics lays beneath:
Disney has been paving new ground with animatronics for decades now (The Tiki Room’s birds and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln namesake robo-president date back to 1963 and 1964, respectively), but the Na’vi Shaman takes things to a whole new level in terms of expressiveness, fluidity of motion and the ability to blow your mind.
Curious what the whole thing looks like when it’s all together and you’re on the ride? Here’s that: