Fringe 2019 Review: 'The Animatronicans: Under New Management'

Usually, when a beloved theme park attraction undergoes a major update, it emerges from refurbishment with the spark that once made it special ripped away (think the Enchanted Tiki Room, or Epcot’s original Imagination pavilion.) But The Animatronicans are the exception that proves the rule, because the runaway stars of 2016’s Fringe are now “Under New Management” but funnier than ever before.

The first installment of Animatronicans was like a pilot episode, establishing how four outdated robotic entertainers – Dreamfinder (Jeff Jones), Abe Lincoln (Josh Siniscalco), the Father from Carousel of Progress (Doug Ba’aser), and Maelstrom’s Polar Bear (James Keaton) – came to live together Golden Girls-style off Disney property. Now that the exposition is out of the way, they can dive right into a new wacky adventure with their technician pal Charlie (Brett Waldon); he introduces them to their latest roommate, the recently removed Redhead (Erin Cline) from Pirates of the Caribbean, then falls for their oversexed cat-loving neighbor, Susan (Janine Klein), in true sitcom style.

At this point, The Animatronicans are Orlando Fringe celebrities, receiving Fonzie-style ovations for every entrance and catchphrase utterance, from an audience that rolls in the aisles at every obscure ride reference. But the creative team isn't resting on their laurels, but rather has returned with a follow-up that improves and expands on the original in nearly every way. Jeff Jones’ knowing jabs – targeting Distwitter scandals, self-important vloggers, and rides that are neither Fast nor Furious – are sharper than ever, and Michael Wazine’s well-timed direction has the polished precision of a classic TV comedy. The ensemble is once again outstanding, and with the addition of Cline – whose mechanical mannerisms are even more hysterical here than in her award-winning robotic role last Fringe – this series should be renewed for several more seasons to come.

Grab your E-Ticket (no FastPasses required) and please keep your hands and arms inside the theater at all times, because whether you’ve got a “Where's Buzzy?” wanted poster on your wall, or simply don’t give a shit about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, The Animatronicans will take you on the wildest ride at the Fringe Festival.

[Full disclosure: This show is sponsored in part by Attractions Magazine, which I write freelance articles for.]

Animatronicans: Under New Management
Mo Laughs Comedy
Orlando FL
Ages 18 and up
Friday, May 17th 9:15 PM
Sunday, May 19th 10:45 PM
Monday, May 20th 7:45 PM
Thursday, May 23rd 6:45 PM
Saturday, May 25th 10:45 PM
Sunday, May 26th 3:15 PM  

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