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  1. #1

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    Are AA's Antiques?

    I thought about this the last time I visited the park. Part of what put Disneyland "on the map" was the innovative use of AA's. Walt went well above and beyond the standard and used the latest technology to bring a variety of characters to life. The original movements were simplistic, but over time more and more movement was added to characters. things like the auctioneer in POC, or Lincoln. Soon the park was full of life as each opening attraction featured AA's.

    Recently the focus at Disneyland has been on LCD screens. The majority of the newer attractions either employed recycled AA's, ones with limited movement, or none at all. In several cases cutouts were used in place of actual characters, or static figures commonly found in store windows. The question becomes why?

    People point to Nemo, or BLAB, or Monsters, or TSMM... all great examples of something new lacking the AA's of old. If I had to place a definitive "finger" on this change I would say StarTours... which incorporated limited movement of AA's into a primarily movie based attraction. Even Indy has very basic moment when compared to the auctioneer!

    Another thoguht is that when Disney does add an AA it almost appears "forced". They proved that they can do amazing things with new AA's, look at Jack in Pirates (regardless of personal opinion about his placement they are amazing AA's from a movement standpoint).

    So I post the question. Have AA's, once a pillar of Disney magic, become outdated antiques and quaint reminders of the past? Or has Disney Co. simply neglected to build upon the legacy of it's founder?
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  2. #2

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    AAs are still an effective technology for creating convincing characters in attractions - the most effective technology, I would argue. Even the most antiquated versions still draw in hordes of guests who enjoy seeing them - imagine if Disney were to continue putting work into developing more and more convincing, interesting AAs!

    That being said, not every attraction needs them. I love masterpieces like Pirates and HM that just go crazy with them, but I think Indy is an excellent example of AAs being used sparsely but wisely. (Although all three Indy figures would benefit from more realistic motion and faces that actually resemble Harrison Ford's.)


  3. #3

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    I still see the use of AA's as not being antiquated, yet....simply the decision has been made mostly to develop attractions that don't require huge casts of them, since perhaps Splash Mountain. In Florida at least, the centerpiece of the Expedition Everest is a massive AA figure that moves very impressively when working, and as much as I dislike the holiday overlay, the Jack Skellington AA in HMH is extremely fluid and moves very realistically. The issue is, getting away from the current trend in attractions that relies on cartoon/Pixar characters, which by their nature come across best in filmed form, whether it is a flat screen with 3D (Midway Mania) a straight up flat screen presentation (Monsters Laugh Floor) or a projection system in real sets (Nemo). I'd hope for Carsland we might see some full-size animatronic representations of the characters...for that ride, projections or film just won't cut it for me.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    I think the AA's that Disney is willing to pay for are antiques. The AA figures that Disney CAN do are state-of-the-art still... they are just expensive and lately they haven't been willing to put out for the quality that they need to.

    The Ariel AA for TLM is rumored to be a technical tour de force. The Jack AA is incredible as well. They can do it, and do it very well... they just choose not to.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  5. #5

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    We'll see with the Little Mermaid... i know we're all crossing our fingers for advanced AAs in that one, as opposed to the mostly stationary figures of the FL dark rides (including Pooh)

    I think the fact that Pirates and HM are so amazingly popular is a testament to everything about them, including their high volume of complicated AAs. Disney would have to be really stupid to think that AAs are not worth doing anymore!
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)



  6. #6

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    Quote Originally Posted by darkfairycthulu View Post
    I'd hope for Carsland we might see some full-size animatronic representations of the characters...for that ride, projections or film just won't cut it for me.
    That's a really good point, and I think it has a good chance of coming true. Cars AA would be extremely effective and not over complicated or expensive, so they'd better use them!
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)



  7. #7

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    Quote Originally Posted by mycroft16 View Post
    They can do it, and do it very well... they just choose not to.
    That specifically was my point. In the past they have done it extremely well. But aside from an occasional piece here or a recycled piece there, they haven't bothered.

    The Jungle refurb is an excellent example of simply recycling instead of developing the technology. Once considered the standard to judge AA's on, it has since become a backwater... where the simplest movements can be manipulated and enjoyed in the same manner one enjoys a toddler's toy. Instead of having sliding crocs, we have several static ones and one that closes it's jaws twice. Instead of moving Gorillas, we have moving arms that sometimes seem to defy the laws of physics!

    Monsters is an outstanding example. The most "technologically advanced" portion of that ride is Randal's color changing ability... aside from that it is packed full of primarily static figures with very limited movement.

    Some argue to bring back Lincoln... I say make a better AA of him first.
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  8. #8

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    The Yeti in Expedition Everest seems pretty impressive, and its one of the largest AA's that Disney has built.

    I was watching a special on either History channel or Travel Channel one time [it was one of those type of channels] and it was about the Imagineers and some of the Modern Marvels they created regarding AA's. Although I have to say aside from the Yeti, Stitch, and Mr. Potato Head those seem to have been the most recent AA's done by them [the show highlighted the Yeti mostly and a bit on Stitch from the redone alien encounter]

    I know the show highlighted Technology for an AA character that could move on its own and I know Disney was doing that experiment with "Lucky" the Dinosaur so I would have to say it is not dead technology.

    Whats probably making it dead is the expense and cost to deliver something spectacular like this in an attraction andf the limited budget I could imagine the imagineers are given to pull a rabbit out of a hat and stretch every dollar to try and deliver a 1st class show... but the problem is that to deliver a first class show you have to allow the people delivering it a larger first class budget so AA figures and newer more expensive ride/thrill/show technology can be in reach to use... Not to mention factors would come into play such as everyday operating costs and when it comes down to everything, I would say that its not really the imagineers having a lack of imagination or AA's being dead as much as it is probably the bean counters at the top giving a lack of funding to that imagination.

    Some of the blue sky concepts that are thought up are really impressive and if given the right amount of funding for the attraction I am sure that most projects would not be as bland as we all make them out to be on here. And to think that we only see the blue sky concept art officially released by disney or on disney fan blogs... I am pretty sure there is plenty more hidden stuff within WDI regarding projects that were cancelled that most of us dont see or ever hear of... After seeing the information and stuff in the blue sky cellar, the concept art is very promising and I am somewhat sure that if the imagineers were given the right budget rather than the 100 million they were given to build the initial DCA we would already have something similar to what they are trying to reimagineer right now [I was reading that figure from a magazine a long time ago about the opening of DCA... I assume the figure was probably more]

  9. #9

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    Very true tech.

    I don't think the technology is outdated at all. I just think some execs at Disney think it is and that they need to catch the new wave or they'll miss it. Disney just needs to do what Disney does best... and Disney tells people what is cool. So if Disney is making insane AAs, other people will too, and people will love it.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  10. #10

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    Quote Originally Posted by techskip View Post
    Some argue to bring back Lincoln... I say make a better AA of him first.
    I think if he's coming back (Al suggests he is), they will definitely do this. Lincoln's primary draw (especially today when people hate history) is the fact that he is an AA. He was a phenomenon at the World's Fair and DL when he was created because people felt that he was so lifelike, and that's pretty much all the casual park goer knows about the attraction today (if they have even heard of it). There will be a standard in the guests' minds that he will be an amazing AA, because the casual park goer doesn't even know that AAs have fallen out of fashion. They hear from the media about how lifelike the new Jack Sparrow AAs are and will expect Lincoln to be the same or better.

    Not to mention that if it turns out to be true that the sitting president will be included in the show as an AA himself, he'd be brand new and squeaky clean with whatever their current technology is, so it wouldn't do to have a clanky old Lincoln AA right next to him; the age difference would really show, so they'd both have to be new AAs.
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)



  11. #11

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    Nah. I still need 'em for my television remote.





    Oh.





    Wait.





    You're not talking about batteries.
    *People JUDGE me too quickly...

  12. #12

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    I think Disney's living character initiative will have a huge impact on AAs, maybe even spur a second golden age of AAs. They've only started to scratch the surface on what can eventually be accomplished with interactivity and AA's or screen based characters. I think the cost is the one thing really holding them back, which seems strange in that I would think many of the parts could be found much cheaper these days then in the past when I'm sure they had to make more themselves. I guess the maintenance is still very expensive even if they are able to use more off the shelf parts. Anyway, the DCA projects do suggest that Disney is recognizing how important AA attractions are to the Disney theme park experience, so that's a positive sign that we haven't had in a while.
    The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
    -Walt Disney

  13. #13

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    Look at the structure of the company that gave us the golden age of AA's -- that innovative melding of showmanship and technology that set the bar sky-high for theme park entertainment and won Disneyland worldwide fame.

    You had the visionary Walt saying go for it, the budget savvy brother Roy saying it costs too much, and the visionary Walt saying go for it anyway. And so the company went for it -- with a highly trained in-house team of the best and the brightest, who'd worked with Walt for decades, executing his vision and plussing it every step of the way.

    Today you have corporate beancounters approving everything and no Walt to say go for it, much less to lend a vision to the company. And even if you did, the highly trained in-house team is no more.

    End of story.
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  14. #14

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    Cool Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    You bring up a good point. I think that some AAs are outdated, but they are still something that is only used effectively in Disney parks. Some AAs should be switched out to have better effect. Just imagine Disneyland if every AA was like Mr. Potato Head.

  15. #15

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    Re: Are AA's Antiques?

    I don't think all hope is lost. The "big evil corporation" has actually done some cool things since Walt's passing. I would venture a guess that a new golden age of AAs would actually be much easier to create than a third golden age of hand drawn animation, but that's not stopping them from trying. Like with everything AAs just need to find the right advocate who has a huge hit with them and suddenly Disney will realize they're not antiques and be asking for more AA attractions again. People can still be amazed by AA's if they're top of the line but people can also tell when Disney does things at a level that's less than their best, and that's just disappointing.
    The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
    -Walt Disney

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