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Behind the Scenes

Page Last Updated

30th January 2010

Animation within Miniland

Animation within Miniland

Miniland contains a large number of animated models, many of which interact with each other. Controlling these, along with the sound and lighting effects, are 14 computers. These computers are connected to the various models, speakers and other effects using 300 kilometres of underground cabling.

Models of buildings provide a great hiding place for equipment!

Below are brief descriptions of how some of these models work.

Road Vehicles

A London cab just leaving a charging point

The cars, lorries and buses all appear to move and steer on their own, never leaving their set paths, yet not using any rails. How on Earth do they manage that? Beneath these paths are cables that emit a low-level radio wave specific to each vehicle - the vehicle picks up this signal, and uses it to steer. When the vehicle reaches one of the charging points dotted around it's track, it stops. One of the computers registers this, and a timer is started. When the timer reaches zero, the power to the charger is cut, and this signals the vehicle to continue along it's path. Outside park opening hours, the vehicles stop on the charging points and recharge fully overnight.


A South West Train arrives at Waterloo Station,
with a Duck Tours amphibious landing craft in the background, and TARDIS, Doctor and K9 behind that!

The trains work in a similar fashion to the road vehicles, but follow tracks instead of radio signals. When a train approaches a station, the train passes over 'slow down bars', which tell the onboard microprocessor to slow the motor. When it reaches a charging point, one of which is located at each station, a signal is sent to the control room, at which point a timer is started both in the control centre and in the train's microprocessor. Unlike the road vehicles, which can only go forward at a certain speed, the trains can go forwards, backwards, and vary their speed.


A boat, with the green rubber loop visible

The boats are attached to rubber loops, which can clearly be seen under the water. These are driven by motors controlled by the computers in the control centre. A piece of metal on the hull of the boat allow sensors along the boat's track to detect the boat, and let the computer know where the boat is. The computer then uses this information to initiate various sequences, such as raising bridges, or opening and closing locks and powering water pumps.