Technological advances throughout the past few decades have given rise to impressively immersive animatronics, and popular theme parks such as Disney and Universal have been quick to implement them in their parks.
Not only that, but the recent push for high-quality animatronics and effects have started to reshape the industry as a whole. Today, we’ll be talking about some of the most impressive animatronics you can find at popular theme parks during your vacation!
1. T-Rex (Jurassic Park River Adventure, Universal's Islands of Adventure)
The Jurassic Park River Adventure in Universal’s Islands of Adventure has become a classic water ride, perfect for cooling off in the Orlando heat. Guests travel through a leisure Jurassic Park experience, enjoying the sights of docile herbivores along the riverbank.
However, the boat is accidentally bumped off-course and taken into the containment area of numerous carnivores such as dilophosaurus and the velociraptors. As you prepare to be rescued by Jurassic Park employees, you come face-to-face with the tyrant king herself–the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
As your boat nears the big finale, Rexy emerges from a wall, shrouded in mist, and roaring at your approaching boat. Thankfully, you are rescued by the 80-foot drop right before her, but not before she leans down to snap at your heads as you go past! Although this is one of the oldest attractions on this list (and is definitely starting to show its age), coming so close to a massive T-rex animatronic is enough to give anyone the chills!
Over the years, the rex’s range of motion has become limited, but during the ride’s early years, the rex had an impressive range of motion and even came equipped with a moving tongue. Although the ride may not be as polished as some of the other, newer entries on this list, its lasting legacy is reason enough to include it here.
2. Yeti (Expedition Everest, Disney's Animal Kingdom)
Expedition Everest was one of Disney’s most ambitious projects at the time of its development. For a time, it held the record of the world’s most expensive roller coaster with a hefty price tag of $100 million. The animatronic yeti that was created for this attraction had an incredible range of motion, with long arms that grabbed at passing riders as it swung from the wall. This version of the yeti was short lived, however, as it became apparent that the foundation on which the yeti stood was cracking under the strain of the heavy animatronic and its consistent movements.
Removing the yeti to repair the foundation beneath would prove to be an extensive and expensive undertaking. In order for the area to be reached, a large portion of the artificial mountain would have to be removed. After the heavy cost the ride took to build, Disney was not too keen on tearing it apart to fix the animatronic, and unfortunately to this day, the yeti has stayed in place, hidden by strobe light effects to give the impression of motion.
This effect has given the animatronic the nickname “Disco Yeti” by regulars in the Disney community. Maybe one day the yeti will be given its much-needed repair, but there have been very few developments hinting at this undertaking in the past few years.
3. Jaws (Universal Studios Florida)
The original Jaws ride in Universal Studios Florida featured an impressive animatronic shark and an array of special effects tied in to make the boat ride an immersive experience for park goers. In the original version of the ride, the animatronic shark would actually seemingly grab the front of the boat in its teeth and drag it. Another impressive scene later replaced the original ending (where the shark was shot by the skipper) by depicting the shark chomping down on a live wire and meeting a grisly end through electrocution.
Guests would then witness the fried corpse of the shark bobbing in the water before returning to the station. This frightening imagery has left a lasting impression on many visitors who had the opportunity to board this ride before it was eventually replaced by the Wizarding World’s Diagon Alley.
For those still eager to experience Jaws up close, Universal Studios Japan continues to operate the last existing incarnation of this ride.
Continue reading to see the infamous Indominus Rex, The Shaman of Songs and the seriously impressive Spider-Man stunt animatronic...