Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

The friendly Yeti!

Garner Holt completes giant animatronic

Garner Holt Productions has developed a new animatronic Yeti character, due to be installed at a themed attraction in early 2009. Weighing in at 1,700 pounds and standing 9ft tall, the Yeti is also one of the largest single animated figures ever built, yet incredibly friendly.

“He’s a gentle giant,” says Garner Holt, founder and president of the 30-year-old animatronics company. “He’s superhero sized, but has the heart of a child.”

The initiative to give the Yeti a personality was one of Holt’s prime directives in creating the creature. “In most cases, you only see an animatronic for a few seconds as you pass by on a ride. I wanted the Yeti to be a character the audience could experience for long periods of time and that would have a real sense of spontaneity, as if everything he did was improvised. He uses a variety of facial expressions to suggest a personality.”

Although he lacks a spoken language, the Yeti can communicate in American sign language. His heavily articulated hands are capable of performing any movement achievable by the human hand, while his eyes contain minute cameras linked to a photo-recognition library. Using this stored information, the Yeti will be able to pick out words and phrases.

His facial movements include eye blinks, nostril flaring, and a moving tongue. In total the Yeti boasts 164 individual functions and 46 high-powered micro-processors throughout his body, synched to an Ethernet network to communicate between his interior and exterior computer controllers.

The Yeti’s interior framework, or skeleton, is partially made of titanium. By using electric actuators inside the figure, instead of hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders, the animatronic possesses enormous strength and us able to lift a man weighing 200 pounds!

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