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Duke Weaselton Makes Surprise Appearance at Zootopia Grand Opening in Shanghai Disney Resort

Frank Reifsnyder

by , Sr. Publicist & Communications Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering

During one of the grand opening events for Zootopia at Shanghai Disney Resort earlier today, Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro was interrupted by a surprise appearance from Duke Weaselton, the mischievous weasel guests may remember from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film, “Zootopia.”

Duke Weaselton from Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Zootopia” on stage with Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro for one of the grand opening ceremonies celebrating Zootopia at Shanghai Disney Resort

Duke rolled across the stage pushing a purple kiosk and blasting pop music, hopped on top of the kiosk and then tried to persuade Josh to make him an honorary ambassador of Zootopia … along with a few extra perks. Of course, Josh didn’t fall for his scheme!

@disneyparks Breaking news from Zootopia 👀🦊 #Disney #DisneyParks #ShanghaiDisneyland #Zootopia #DukeWeaselton #Technology #Imagineers #STEM #Robotics ♬ original sound – Disney Parks

Duke is a demonstration of the next iteration of robotic technology, which Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development (R&D) and Disney Research first displayed earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference. At SXSW, Disney Imagineers unveiled an untethered, dynamic robotic character on skates that could steady itself and even perform a somersault — movements humans can relate to that generate emotional connections with the bunny character.

Duke Weaselton from Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Zootopia” on stage for one of the grand opening ceremonies celebrating Zootopia at Shanghai Disney Resort

With Duke, Imagineers have combined the ability to do all kinds of dynamic maneuvers, with our expertise in building expressive, animated faces. Now that Duke can speak, naturally he’s weaseled his way into a stage show! This is just another example of how Disney is taking creativity to new heights through technological breakthroughs in storytelling.

While we can’t tell you many of the details of how Imagineers brought Duke to life, or where you might see similar robotic technology in the future, we can share with you one secret: to pull off this achievement required not one, but two robots working together in sync. Not only was Duke a robotic figure, but so was the kiosk itself!

Duke was definitely a surprise and delight moment for those who attended the beautiful opening event for the newest land at Shanghai Disney Resort.

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