Disney Connects with Adorable Robots at SXSW

At South by Southwest, a Disney product manager showed off robots designed to connect with park visitors.

Rob Spiegel

March 24, 2023

2 Min Read
Disney robots

In recent years we’ve seen a ton of robots designed to fill a wide range of human needs, from factory-line production to service needs at hospitals. Disney has delved into robot technology to enhance the visitor experience at its theme parks.

Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks chairman of experiences and products, attended South by Southwest in Austin to showcase several robots that roam the parks for the delight of visitors. D’Amaro pulled back the curtain on ways Disney uses robots to enhance environments designed and built for “happiness.”


In his presentation, Creating Happiness: The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling, D’Amaro showed off robots from the tiny to the huge, going from Tinkerbell to a roller-skating kid robot. “Disney’s 100-year legacy is built on the intersection of creativity, innovation, and storytelling,” said D’Amaro. “We’re humbled by the fact that millions of people choose Disney as their vacation destination every year to escape into our beloved stories. To our guests around the world, I want to tell you that we’ve only just begun.”

Disney robots

D’Amaro and other “Disney Imagineers” took the stage to share some of the unique and ambitious ideas that bring Disney stories to life. They shared insights about how immersive environments have heightened the experience for park visitors.

Related:Robots Showcase Electrical Engineering Innovations

The Creating Happiness presentation included the unveiling of a brand-new prototype roller-skating robot. The video of the presentation shows the robot’s ability to make dynamic maneuvers, including falling down, getting back up, and somersaults. The dynamic robot incorporates motion-capture data to create performances that evoke emotion, giving Disney Imagineers a new way to bring out a character’s personality.

The presentation also included a behind-the-scenes look at another blue-sky concept from Disney Imagineers that lets fans have a live conversation with the tiny Tinker Bell. The Hulk character robot was also on display. “We want to invent the future once again – together – drawing on a range of voices and perspectives that will help us continue to create even more happiness around the world,” said D’Amaro,

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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