Add the cost of the special safety equipment and rigging required for an aerialist, and the cost of keeping it inspected and in good repair, and we're talking about a no-brainer for Disney's beancounters.
Crew to operate a flying rig with a human performer is likely the same as a crew needed to work a flying rig with an animatronic on it. You still need the techs to work the system and hook into the rigging any human or puppet.
This would have to be a rather complex animatronic. It would be self contained and need to have somewhat fluid motion to it that would be controlled wirelessly by the SMPTE running the fireworks show. Yes, she may be far away, but if it moves stiffly like a robot, it will be rather obvious.
I would think the equipment for a human aerialist is about the same as would be needed for an animatronic.
-2 track cables with 2 lighter gauge back ups in case of failure of one of the primary track cables (a la Palm Springs Aerial Tram).
-2 position control cables (like haulage ropes on tramways), active and running back up.
-2 height control cables, active and running back up.
*this is all my conjecture, no fact to back this up. Just taking what I know from the likes of aerial tramways and adding in the height control*
And I would hope they keep the same safety inspections and maintenance if it is a human or animatronic on the rigging.
Again, the biggest cost cut I see here is the lack of a performer and the associated dresser for that performer. And what little savings that provides I see being offset by the extra employees needed to care for and maintain the animatronic puppet.
Well by 2015 Disney might get their wish.
FAA told to make room for drones in U.S. skies – USATODAY.com
I think this would runin tradition. I would be better to keep it a human. Now if she had a jet pack the would be way cooler but that is off topic. I think as Autopia said above that the costs would be the same for a puppet as for a human and the puppet could weigh the same or more than the current actrist. It just matters who Disney is hiring at the moment CMs or Imaginners?
If they succeeded in creating an animatronic Tinkerbell that worked, guess what the next project would be? That's right - animatronic CMs.
While Tink does get payed a nice amount........that doesn't include insurance....ay least I heard that during an audition I did in 2000. Back then I was told the person picked would make 400 a flight.
I don't know if I'd fly something like that that close to fireworks.
Here comes the dragon again. First off that dragon had a shorter life than do most of the Limited Time Magic offerings. I think building the dragon was a proof of concept not for the show. If they were going to fly it more than we would have seen it again. The idea is for Imagineering to building moblie anamatronics and from what I could tell from the video that dragon could have been a gaint kite with a string. Replacing Tinkerbell would be a lot more difficult because you would have to get the imagery just right and do it everynight where having a CM doing it makes for a great show.