#1- Audio Animatronic Awkward

There’s nothing quite as awkward as mistaking a real person for an audio animatronic.

It was our first night in Anaheim and we were kicking things off with a bang at the Haunted Mansion dinner. The lights dimmed and I was giddy with excitement as I hurried to finish my crab cocktail before the program began. When I looked up, a very tall, polished looking man had appeared on the stage. (I’d missed his entrance and was guessing he traveled in via platform from below the stage or maybe came in on some sort of track system.) However he got there, he looked amazing! So tall, so life like, and completely worthy of the Imagineering Stamp of Approval.

At first, I was really impressed. His movements and overall appearance were quite life like. While his bald head picked up a bit of a glare, the texture of his skin looked very realistic. (And really, you can’t fault the Imagineers for a balding glare – it’s a hazard in real life too.) His gestures were somewhat stiff, and while his arms were locked into a 90 degree angle, remarkably, he was able to lift one foot from the ground and take a step backwards and forwards. The few moments he had been on stage were quite enjoyable and he hadn’t even said a word yet.

Then, the moment we had been waiting for – he began to speak. “On be-half of every-one at Dis-ney (insert 2 second pause) Land, wel-come.” Domo arigato! This Mr. Robato made a Texas Instruments Speak & Spell sound like beautiful angel music. That’s when I leaned over and whispered to Jeff “I didn’t know there was going to be audio animatronics at this thing. Is it because they’re re-releasing Mr. Lincoln?”

Jeff’s reply – “That’s not robot. That’s Ed Grier.”

Yikes. I had just mistook the President of Disneyland for the newest addition to Great Moment’s with Mr. Lincoln. And not even a new and improved version, but the 1964 model. Double yikes. I had previously wondered why I had never seen the President of Disneyland at anything, and now I know why.

For some reason, Disney had decided to dust off President Grier and bring him out for a little show and tell. Maybe they thought we would still be eating our crab cocktail and not notice him up on the stage. Or maybe they thought he would blend in with the rest of the 999 Happy Haunts. Most likely, it was the scheduled time in Ed’s contract for him to make his yearly appearance. Regardless of Disney’s reasoning, he was a little bit of additional entertainment, the pure essence of Audio Animatronic Awkward and the perfect ending to the Expo’s Top 10 Awkward Moments.

Kristen

Mousetalgia Kristen may be best known for her color commentary, but she also brings her inquiring mind and insatiable appetite for new and exciting Disney-related experiences to the podcast.

In addition to her on-the-scene reports, Kristen is also the Mousetalgia house musician, and often records various themes and tunes for the show on her accordion (or her concertina, her piano, her banjo, or some other various rhythm instrument she finds laying around her home), putting her degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to good use.

After having spent a season in sub-Saharan Africa as a professional storyteller reporting on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Kristen has a special insight into the value of humor and perspective, and Kristen brings this joie de vivre to Mousetalgia. As a member of D23, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the Walt Disney Family Museum, Kristen rarely misses an opportunity to report on West Coast-based Disney happenings.

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