09 April 2010

97th Annual Inventor Of The Year Award

97th Annual Inventor Of The Year Award
Ryan P. Wilson

There is a lot of Disney history and clever hints tied up in the single picture to the left.

The robot’s name is Weebo, and she is the Flying Lab Assistant Robot to Professor Phillip Brainard. If that name sounds familiar, it should, Brainard is the creator of Flubber in the movie of the same name, which is itself a remake of the 1961 picture The Absent-Minded Professor. Getting back to Weebo, this little gal was created to assist Brainard in his experiments and over the course of their time together fell in love with him. That’s the end of my Flubber spoilers, but not the end of Weebo’s Disney connection. The voice of Weebo is none other than Jodi Benson. In case you are not up on your Disney talent, Benson is the voice of not only Weebo, but also voices Barbie in Toy Story 2 and 3, plays Sam in Enchanted, and is the heart and soul of underwater royalty, Ariel, The Little Mermaid.

Back to the display in the entrance to Journey Into Imagination with Figment, the small plaque at the bottom of Weebo states that Weebo was the reason Professor Brainard received the Imagination Institute’s Inventor of the Year Award. This award is the same one that is to be presented to Wayne Szalinski next door as a part of Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. The other nuanced piece of this notice is that Brainard is the 97th recipient of the award, oddly enough, Flubber was released in 1997.

There is a wealth of film and theme park history tied up in this one little robot and her display. It just goes to show that there is no detail too small to not be done right, at least not in Walt Disney World.

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