Disney Animatronics Are Catching On Fire And Shutting Rides Down

The Maleficent animatronic at Disneyland's Fantasmic show caught on fire on Saturday.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated


A Disney park robot malfunctioned recently, turning Disneyland from the most magical place on earth into the next installment of Five Nights at Freddie’s. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Maleficent dragon animatronic caught fire during an after-dark performance of Fantasmic at Disney’s California theme park on Saturday night. The big lizard caught fire during the final Fantasmic show of the night, and luckily no injuries were reported.

Part of Fantasmic, a show starring Mickey Mouse, involves a 45-foot fire-breathing animatronic, Maleficent, in her dragon form from the end of Sleeping Beauty. The show usually goes off without a hitch several times a day, but for some reason, on Saturday night Maleficent’s head was set ablaze, and the fire quickly consumed the whole dragon. Disney officials issued a statement declaring that “All castmembers were safely evacuated from Tom Sawyer Island” and that all guests were safely evacuated from attractions near the conflagration.

Several Disney cast members were treated for smoke inhalation just in case, but all of them were given a clean bill of health and released the same night. Luckily, Several Anaheim Fire and Rescue engines teamed up with an engine from Orange County Fire Authority and Disneyland’s own fire team to combat the blaze. No firefighters or other first responders were injured, according to the Anaheim Police Department.

While the cause of the fire is still being investigated, Disney decided to be proactive and suspend all pyrotechnics across their many parks just to be safe. “We are temporarily suspending fire effects similar to those used at Disneyland Park’s Fantasmic at select shows and entertainment experiences globally out of an abundance of caution.” Disney officials said. Disney sighted the importance of cast and guest safety as the reason for the suspension.

It didn’t take long for video of the incident to start popping up on social media. Not long after the Maleficent dragon burst into flames, parkgoers posted footage of the animatronic malfunction online. The fire is currently being investigated by arson investigators, according to Anaheim Police Sergeant John McClintock.

Malfunctioning animatronics have become something of their own genre lately thanks to the Five Nights At Freddy’s series of survival horror games and movies like the Nicolas Cage horror-comedy Willy’s Wonderland and the low-budget SyFy channel Banana Splits reimagining. With the amount of animatronics at Disney theme parks, it’s something that happens more than one would expect. Usually, the malfunctions are harmless in nature, glitches in a robot’s speech or movement, but occasionally it’s a bigger deal like Saturday’s dragon immolation.

As most D&D aficionados can attest, most dragons are either immune or resistant to fire–especially their own–making the incident with Maleficent particularly puzzling. All joking aside, it is definitely alarming that a Disney animatronic could go up in flames so easily. One would think a fire-based attraction would have several safeguards in place to prevent such a catastrophe.

Luckily malfunctioning animatronics–even ones shooting flames–very seldomly result in human injury. The closest thing to a real-life FNAF maiming in recent memory was when a Russian chess robot broke a 7-year-old player’s finger. While a finger-breaking robot is certainly alarming, it’s a far cry from an animatronic murder spree.

No word yet on when Disney plans to resume its pyrotechnic attractions.