|by Anthony Falcone||Amusement and Theme Parks, Disney||1|
It looks like WALL•E, the pint-sized star of Disney-Pixar's newest computer-animated feature, may be coming to theme parks as part of Disney's "Living Character Initiative." Lou Mongello of disneyworldtrivia.com first reported the rumors of the "live" interactive character on his Disney World podcast, and he recently posted some video to back up his claims.
The video, shot by a /film.com contributor, shows a Disney employee on the streets of Los Angeles with a rolling, talking—well, beeping anyway—and very real WALL•E.
WALL•E appears to be the latest in Disney's "Living Character Initiative." The bold project by Disney Imagineering has the goal of creating "living" characters who can actually interact with theme park guests. It's been rolled out in phases. It started with a talking garbage can at Tomorrowland, and advanced to the far more sophisticated "Turtle Talk with Crush," where youngsters in a theater can actually talk to (and get answers from) a high-quality computer rendition of Crush in his tank. The kids eat it up, and as an adult, you'll not only be floored by the "cute" factor, but your inner geek will wonder just how they do that!
I was actually able to see first-hand how a talking garbage can at Disney's Animal Kingdom was operated. But I won't ruin the magic for you!