Guests at two Disneyland Resort Paris eateries recently found themselves dining alongside an unexpected visitor — a life-size, live-action version of Remy, the hero from Disney•Pixar's Ratatouille.
Part of the Walt Disney Imagineering's Living Characters program, the Remy Cart was play-tested at the Rendez-Vous des Stars at Walt Disney Studios Park and California Grill at the Disneyland Hotel earlier this summer. Although rats are usually highly unwelcome in restaurants, diners were captivated by Remy as he greeted guests, interacted with his "chef" sidekick and even boogied to pop music.
"The project started when Phil Jackson of R&D was able to get a 3D version of Remy from Pixar, "said Holger Irmler, Principal Technical Staff at Walt Disney Imagineering R&D, who led the Remy Cart project. "Phil created a highly compliant silicone model that was able to stretch and squish in a natural manner. Todd Camill, also of R&D, created the mechanical structure underneath. Then I got involved and said, 'Hey, I think I can make him dance.'"
The initial process took just six weeks with a small team of material science, creative, engineering and fabrication specialists working on the Remy mockup.
"The real challenge came when we had to create a furry Remy," Holger said. "But luckily we found two consultants who were familiar with hair transfer as it is used in the movies."
Once the figure was ready to meet an audience, the team created a scenario in which Remy is hidden under the lid of a serving tray that's wheeled out by an actor portraying a chef.
"The show is set up as a surprise moment," Holger said. "The chef lifts the lid to offer guests some cheese, but Remy is actually on the tray. The lid blocks the chef's view, so he pretends not to see Remy at first and doesn't understand why guests are getting so excited."
Due to the enthusiastic reception received at Disneyland Resort Paris, Holger says other Disney destinations around the world are interested in hosting the Remy Cart.
"This project has been a great success in creating a fun, family entertainment moment that delights our audience," he said. "I want to thank everybody involved, especially Phil Jackson who came up with this amazing idea."
I am a big Star Wars Disney Geek, and would love to meet some more.