Destini Wows the Crowd at D23 Expo

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Destini at the Parks & Resorts Pavilion at the D23 Expo in Anaheim

Something mystical was happening in a corner of the Parks & Resorts Pavilion at the D23 Expo in Anaheim last month. Guests gathered throughout the weekend to see Destini – fortune teller and Audio-Animatronics marvel.

“Many Audio-Animatronics characters appear in Disney Parks but they don’t really pay attention to guests,” said Scott Trowbridge, VP of Creative at Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development. “This will change that.”

Destini uses new technology developed by WDI. He’s the latest and most advanced fully autonomous, interactive Audio-Animatronics figure – he can see you, hear you and even think for himself. Using sensors to observe and interact, he can see the guests in front of him – groups or individuals – and read their expressions. He can see whether you’re smiling or frowning, and adjust his interaction accordingly.

“We’re experimenting with technology to make our characters more aware and responsive,” said Scott, who went on to say that what WDI is really experimenting with is the larger idea of awareness.

This technology would be used “anywhere we want characters to be more aware,” Scott said, but it is not meant to replace performers. Rather, it would allow WDI to bring characters to life that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. At the D23 Expo, guests got an exclusive peek behind the curtain to see how Destini works, but in the parks the technology will not be center-stage.

“We want guests to have the sense that they’re actually meeting a living, breathing character,” said Scott. “We hope that in the parks, guests will never know what is going on behind the scenes. They will just be having a wonderful moment, not thinking about the technology.”


  • They should build a Disney Parks museum in Disney World and put in a bunch of things like this and models and stuff… that would be cool.

  • looks cool but kinda creepy at the same time 🙂

  • It was a long wait, but it was well worth it to get a fortune read by The Great Destini! I hope to see more Audio-Animatronics like this in the future!

  • I have always thought and mentioned to Imagineering friends that it would be great if the Penny Arcades Esmeralda could interact with guests and really tell fortunes. More so than in the Tom Hanks movie Big and his fortune teller, which is a favorite with some Disney management. Maybe they can put Destini’s soul within her now? We always joked about the movie West World and how it was modeled after Disney World and segments looked like MAPO when they showed all the anamtronic figures being built or repaired. I can “Imagine” Pirates or the Haunted Mansion with these new class of figures, like West World, that would interact with guests. If in Fronteirland I will watch out for Yul Brynner.

  • That is AWESOME!

    I am so going next year!

  • Where is Destini Now? Will he be included in one of the parks soon? Or was that kind of a sneak peek of the new Technology?

  • #5 – That’s interesting that you gave Destini wrong answers on purpose, Peter. My husband did the same thing! When he asked what color the ball was, he said green, tho the ball was purple and some other answers that Destini didn’t even know were totally wrong. I wish I could’ve been able to see what the monitors were doing when I was visiting with him, but unfortunately, I was looking at him and not at the monitors.

  • Uh…don’t Crush and Mr. Potato Head already do this? I’m quite sure they do.

  • I couldn’t make it to the Expo, but I would love to see the on-stage presence and behind the scenes part of Destini and other next generation characters. I think that could be a great addition to and/or separate “Backstage Magic” type tour!!!

  • My hubby and I didn’t want to wait in line to actually meet Destini, but we were able to hang out and observe him. I have to say we must have spent 20 minutes just engrossed in the monitors showing how the computer was analyzing all of the persons biometrics. This is some of the coolest and most fascinating technology I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see how the Imagineers apply it in the parks!

  • #1 – Even tho there was a very long wait to get to visit with Destini, my husband and I enjoyed our time with him. He sounded a lot like Pepe the Prawn from the Muppets, the cast member said his voice was done by an Imagineer, but wouldn’t tell us which one! For my quarter (you had to give him a coin for your fortune and the cast member said a coin worth more would get a better fortune, but we didn’t find it to be so!), he said I was going to be in LOVE and then the machine printed out a sticker that had my photo (really bad resolution) with angels and hearts over the top of it. For my husband’s dime, he said he would be super famous and loved by all, with his photo as tho it was on a page of “The Disneyland News”. The large stickers are a fun memento of our time spent with Destini!!

  • I was at the Expo and saw Destini. He is awesome!

    He even knows what kind of coin you put in his machine, and he could take a picture of guests for them to keep as a souvenir.

    I LOVE the living characters!

    Keep it up WDI! 🙂

  • When we saw him, the great part was that the monitors showed that he can detect things like your facial expressions and can even estimate how old you are. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with his interaction with us. He asked us closed-ended questions, and when we answered him incorrectly, he responded as if we said the correct answer to the pre-programmed question. It’s kind of like when children’s programming like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse asks the viewers a question and assumes the viewer will respond the right way. Hopefully the Imagineers will find a way to have this animatronic TRULY interact with guests. Now that will be a more magical experience.

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