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Providing the building blocks of animatronics at a UK-based theme park

An internationally recognised Theme-park brand has partnered with Underwoods on a series of bespoke automation projects to improve the appeal of a number of their parks. Their first project involved the construction of miniature model scenes at their flagship park in the south of England, featuring some of Europe’s and America’s most iconic cities.

Creating the perfect model

These model ‘villages’ contain some of the world’s most famous landmarks as well as a series of life-size, interactive animatronic models. But at the heart of these animatronic models is a bespoke control system that Underwoods helped to configure, and this is what brought this adventurous engineering project to life.

The individual animatronics were controlled by a series of relays and motor controllers that were housed in numerous ‘slave’ cabinets that sit under podiums at various points throughout the attraction. MP3 audio repeaters were also integrated into the control system to create the audio effects for each animatronic model.

All of the slave cabinets were connected via a comprehensive network to the master cabinet that included an OMRON NJ Series PLC which combines Vision, Motion and Logic control into a single device and is programmed on a single comprehensive software package.

International deployment

These model villages soon became very popular and as they were being rapidly deployed in other theme parks within the company’s global network, Underwoods organised a specially designed training course for several members of the company’s global engineering team to learn all of the intricate details of OMRON’s PLC software. This meant that engineers from California, Denmark, Germany and the UK could establish PLC programming best practise and achieve uniformity across all of their global network.

As the popularity of these model villages started to increase even further, it was no longer cost effective for the theme parks to build their own control systems. So, in order to keep up with demand, Underwoods collaborated with a series of UK-based panel builders to streamline the construction of the control systems that these animatronic model villages operated on.

The final word

"Underwoods prides itself on the service it provides to all of its customers. We don’t just provide the world’s best automation technology products, we also develop long lasting partnerships with our customers and actively seek to help them with any and all of their engineering challenges including; helping them to outsource the construction of their control panels.

This is why Underwoods provides an unrivalled level of support that other typical industrial distributors simply cannot and do not do."

Peter Fuller - UK Sales Manager

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