Disney has begun testing a new technology which enables characters at its theme parks to converse with guests, with video emerging online of a talking Mickey Mouse.
The footage was posted by YouTube user lrharrisjr, who told Orlando Attractions Magazine that they had been invited to take part in a test group at Disneyland. The videos embedded below show Mickey introducing himself to a group of guests, before going on to talk to individuals as he poses for photos with them.
There is speculation that the new technology is an evolution of the animatronics which enabled character heads to move in the Magic Kingdom's Dream Along with Mickey stage show. As in the videos, the system enabled characters' mouths to move and eyes to blink.
The test took place in the Toontown area of Disneyland and was observed by Disney management. Introducing the technology would be a major undertaking for Disney's parks, which see thousands of character interactions every day. Therefore, it is likely that further extensive testing will take place before any wider roll-out of the audible characters.
In the early years of Disneyland, characters frequently talked to guests. However, management eventually abolished the practice due to the Cast Members' inability to accurately mimic the character's "real" voices.