Updates On The Stolen Disney World Animatronic Saga
Last May we wrote about the stolen Epcot animatronic Buzzy, who was part of several items stolen from Walt Disney World. There are now new developments in the ongoing story, including an unexpected cameo by an NBA player.
The animatronic went missing sometime between August and November of 2018, with urban explorers confirming the that Buzzy was gone in December (see: The Strange Tale of the Stolen Epcot Animatronic). It seems his clothes were the first thing to go missing in early August, then the rest of him vanished sometime in the following couple of months. A Twitter user known as @BackDoorDisney posted photos of Buzzy’s head on Twitter in May, confirming that Buzzy had met a terrible fate somewhere in late 2018 and Disney was no longer in possession of the robot.
The man behind the Backdoor Disney account, Patrick Allen Spikes, has maintained his innocence even after having been arrested for theft of Disney costumes and props. The props included Buzzy’s clothing and clothes from the Haunted Mansion, but not the animatronic himself. Though Spikes has never been officially linked to the theft of Buzzy, it’s not hard to connect the dots. The police just happened to confirm that Buzzy was officially missing at the same time they arrested Spikes for the theft of other props. In the court of public opinion, he’s guilty. It’s way too coincidental for most to assume he’s not somehow involved. I tend to agree with this assumption.
Here we are almost a year after local authorities first investigated the missing animatronic, and we have some interesting updates about the whole affair.
Animatronic Theft feat. NBA Player Robin Lopez
NBA player Robin Lopez purchased some of the props from Spikes, including Buzzy’s clothing that were first noted as missing by urban explorers in early August of 2018. Lopez, an avid Disney fan who owns a home near Walt Disney World, seems to be a victim in this whole ordeal. The man just really loves Disney and was probably too excited to vet this purchase properly. My heart goes out to the guy. Truly.
Walt Disney World Today lays out the following series of events regarding the transaction:
According to interviews, Lopez purchased Buzzy’s clothes after getting in contact with [Spikes] via eBay. While Buzzy’s complete outfit included a bomber jacket, headphones and green hat, it is still unknown what clothes specifically Lopez had. Lopez claims to have spoken with Spikes over the telephone before the purchase was finalized, and asked if the items were stolen. Spikes assured him that the clothes had not been stolen. Orange County Authorities side with Lopez as having been victimized by the perpetrators, and he is “100% cooperating” with the investigation.
Spikes Arrested. Again.
Just a few days ago Spikes was arrested yet again, this time getting into a scuffle with officers and hyperventilating while being questioned about the whole ordeal. The video of the incident shows Spikes asking for an attorney, being told he could get one but he had to leave his phone behind, then attempting to wrestle his phone away from the police.
Once handcuffed, Spikes asks to call his mom, which leads to this awkward and unintentionally hilarious quote from the detective:
“You’re an adult correct? You’re not calling your mom. Stay there.”
The whole encounter between Spikes and detectives is weird and uncomfortable. I would laugh at it if it wasn’t quite so sad.
The estimated value of the stolen props (not including Buzzy) is around $14,000. He’s facing numerous charges including
burglary, grand theft, and trafficking in stolen property. Spikes and his cousin, Blaytin Taunton, a former Walt Disney World employee who may also be complicit, are scheduled for trial in January.
We also have a bunch of pictures of Spikes with the stolen Haunted Mansion clothes, providing further evidence that he’s not as innocent in the whole affair as he claims. There are also tons of pictures floating around of other stolen props, and friends of his modeling them for the camera. If him posting pictures and coordinating the sale of Buzzy’s clothing to Lopez wasn’t enough to convince you he was involved in all this, we now have pictures of him wearing some of the Haunted Mansion clothing.
Maybe this is why he wanted to get his phone back from detectives so bad. The evidence is pretty clear cut. The trial in January will be interesting to follow because the evidence is pretty damning.
Updates on Buzzy?
The animatronic is still missing and, besides the picture that Spikes tweeted of our poor decapitated robot last May, nobody has seen him since he was removed from Cranial Command at the end of last year. Some fans speculate the value of Buzzy himself could be around $400,000, which means he’s not included on the list of items that Spikes and Taunton are being charged with stealing from Disney World. I also suspect that if there was a picture of Buzzy on Spikes’ phone, that that would have been released with all the others that have come out since his arrest.
It seems clear that Spikes was ready to delete evidence off his phone when he tried to wrestle it back from detectives, so perhaps he already did that with the photos of Buzzy. The animatronic’s theft has been the headline news, with the other props often a footnote to the story. Once the Internet started buzzing (heh) about Buzzy’s theft, he may have realized he was going to draw too much heat and deleted all the photos as a precaution.
But then what of Buzzy himself? Spikes – genius that he is- has been using eBay to offload his stolen merchandise. That’s how Robin Lopez purchased Buzzy’s clothes. But Buzzy hasn’t turned up on eBay as far as we can tell. And it can’t be easy to offload an item estimated at $400,000, so I’m fairly certain people would have noticed any sort of public auction somewhere for him.
If Spikes had some sort of back channel method to sell the stolen merch, I wonder why he didn’t use it to offload the rest of his items? It would surely have been the safest route in the first place. Though I suppose it’s possible that Buzzy had a private buyer while all the other stuff was just thrown onto eBay. That feels weird to me, though, but I guess not impossible.
It’s safe to assume at this point that his property is going to be searched thoroughly by detectives, so if Buzzy is hiding out in his garage or something he’ll be found fairly soon. But Spikes has to know this, too. And if he did have him and thought about deleting the photographic evidence, he may have dumped the actual robot somewhere too. Could Buzzy be in a landfill somewhere?! The horror! Not our boy!
January couldn’t get here soon enough. I need resolution.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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