After months of development the Walt Disney Imagineering team at Disney's California Adventure debuted their latest, cutting-edge creation - free-roaming, interacting audio-animatronic Muppets capable of "seeing" and "talking" to park guests.
The Muppet Mobile Labs, featuring Bunsen and Bearker is Disney's most advanced robotic creation to date. The "live" show roams the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of Disney's California Adventure interacting with and entertaining guests of all ages.
Bruce Vaughn, vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering's research and development division said that "This is an incredibly compelling and powerful way to experience the characters. They are fully aware of the people in their presence and can call you by name. It is a 100% live experience."
In their first appearances at Disney's California Adventure this week, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker joked and chatted with park guests. The Muppets lead songs and games, told jokes and brought merriment wherever they roamed. The duo maneuvered around in their mobile laboratory outfitted with flashing lights, spinning signs, confetti cannons and smoke and water sprayers.
During this week's initial testing phase, a team of Disney's top technicians along with Muppeteer Dave Goelz were on site and busy working behind the scenes to perfect and inspect the show. The life-live audio-animatronic puppets were based on the original puppets used for Muppets Tonight and are housed in the Muppet Mobile Lab unit which is designed in a shape and size that would make it impossible for any full-sized human puppeteers to be inside operating the characters. The entire show can be controlled by a single operator from a control booth many miles away for the actual park.
Sources say that if the response to this Californian park attraction is positive (and so far it has been), the Imagineers are looking to clone the Mobile Lab unit for the Orlando parks. I'll keep you posted as more information on the Muppet Mobile Lab emerge, but until then you can enjoy this video of the Lab in action (courtesy of the LA Times and the Walt Disney Company).