Disney’s new re-creation of Walt Disney has some people feeling ‘uncomfortable’

A man wearing a suit and tie and gesturing with his hands.
A lifelike projection of the late Walt Disney will greet visitors in a new exhibit.

The Disney company is turning 100 this year, and its late founder, Walt Disney, is joining the festivities.

The studio recently teased a video of a lifelike projection of what it calls “an authentic re-creation of Walt Disney,” who died in 1966. The projection will greet visitors to its “Disney 100: The Exhibition,” which opens this week at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia before embarking on an international tour.

In the video, Mickey Mouse is seen shooting a sparkling spell to conjure Disney, who suddenly appears, smiling and dusting off his gray suit, before launching into a speech about the “satisfaction” of “developing ideas into reality.”


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“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps us leading down new paths — we’re always exploring and experimenting,” the projection of Disney says before snapping his fingers and vanishing in a mist of stars.

To create the human-like avatar, the company, which recently laid off 7,000 employees, used archival footage from the 1960s, two separate audio recordings and a “super-resolution A.I. upscaler” to convert the old footage to high definition, according to the Franklin Institute.

Disney fans are already sounding off about the projection, with some celebrating the achievement and others finding it unsettling.

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“This is incredible,” wrote lawyer and Disney podcaster Sean Nyberg on Twitter. “Is it slightly *off*? Of course, it’s an homage presented through tech and art, just like the Lincoln animatronic. Impossible to be a perfect replica, but definitely a perfect homage that Walt Disney himself would’ve found mind blowing.”

Some commented about how the projection’s hair and mouth movements felt off, or how its spirited mannerisms betrayed the real recordings of Disney. Others found the projection a bit too lifelike.

“I don’t think you can get any more uncanny valley than this,” said one user.


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“This made me uncomfortable,” another said.

One user joked about its haunting presence, calling on Disney to “add him to the Haunted Mansion when the exhibit is over.”

The exhibit will tour the world until 2028, according to the New York Times. It will be in Philadelphia until August, with other exhibits opening later this year in Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Munich, Germany; and London.

The 15,000-square-foot exhibit will showcase original artworks and artifacts, costumes, props and other memorabilia from Disney’s storied vault.