Introduction to Imagineering


I’m going to build an animatronic eye mechanism! This project involves using 3D parts that move based on old puppeteering techniques as well as electronic components that will allow for a joystick to move around the eyes to make the eye movements seem very natural, like they would on an animatronic.

I’m excited to build this, because my dream job is to become an Imagineer for Disney. Imagineers are those amazing people who engineer and design the various attractions seen at the Disney parks around the world. One of the main projects that Imagineers are known for though is the detailed animatronics that they build for the rides at the parks. Those animatronics require a lot of machinery, electronics, and design choices in order for the animatronics to function and look appropriate for a specific attraction at the parks. In order to prepare myself for that dream job though, I wanted to try and build some of the components needed for an animatronic!


I am actually going to follow a tutorial, made by a Youtuber named Will Cogley who makes content about cool robotics and animatronics (, in order to build this animatronic eye mechanism. The tutorial is very thorough, and Will has generously provided the 3D printing files as well as what materials are needed for the build. The main point of the project focuses on the 3d printed parts and the servos to work together to make the eyes move both up and down and left and right, and then the electrical components working to control those servos using the joystick.

I plan on 3D printing all the separate parts I need first, and sanding them down as they get printed. This is probably going to be the most time-consuming part of the project, so I estimate that this will take anywhere from 2-5 days. Once all the 3D prints are done and sanded down, I need to make sure that the printed parts have holes big enough for the screws that need to get through them, and if not, drill in a bigger hole with the vice hand drill (1 day max of worktime). Now, I can start the fun assembly part of the components; Because of how small the screws are and how there are multiple that needs to be screwed in for the assmebly, I estimate that this should take me about 1-2 days as well. Similarly, the wiring assembly will also be fun and should only take me about 1-2 days, because Will Cogley has graciously provided a wiring diagram for the different electrical components needed for this project.

Not mentioned above is the process for the actual eyeballs. I have the .stl file for the eyeball adapter, which will hold the eyeball in this specific project, and the .stl file for the eyeball is in another video tutorial of Will’s (also linked below). To get the best results, I would need an airbrush to get the different colored layers that an eye usually has, along with the detailed pupil. However, airbrushes and the paint needed for them are really expensive, so I’m actively working on finding out if an art teacher at my school has one, or alternatives to painting the eyes.

Lastly, I’m still brainstorming ideas for what character/creature I can put this animatronic eye mechanism to work into. My initial thought was creating a Garfield-like face model, since eyes would fully capture Garfield’s laziness and sassiness. I am open to other ideas though, maybe a spooky, Halloween creature?

Video of the tutorial: Making Realistic Eyes:


What materials will you need for your project? Where will you get them? How much does it cost? Please include all materials, including components you already own. Make sure to factor in shipping costs and sales tax.

10 Micro servos$30.99
Various Screws, Botls, etc.$29.99
Arduino Uno$29.95
Servo Driver Board$20.61
5V 4A Power Supply$8.99
Female DC Power Jack$8.99
Jumper Wires$6.98
Momentary Switches$5.49
10k Ohm Resistors$5.38
Vice Hand Drill$14.99
Two PLA 3d printer filament rolls$43.84
3D PrinterI have access to multiplen/a
TotalTotal x 1.0825 tax rate$244.30

Shipping will be free since they are all components from Amazon! NOTE: The prices are the highest-listed price I saw on Amazon… the prices seem to either fluctuate or be on sale on Amazon, but that total cost is an estimated maximum cost for everything.