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Object of Intrigue: Disneyland’s Flirty, Talking Trash Can

An animatronic trash can named PUSH eventually got the shove.

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PUSH hanging out with some of the more well known Disneyland characters. He was a friend to all. (Photo: Lucky 6.9/CC BY-SA 3.0)
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There’s a Disneyland sweetheart you may never have heard of, though if you were hoping to meet him, you’re out of luck—PUSH the Talking Trash Can retired two years ago.

PUSH, a radio-controlled robot, was a highly beloved garbage receptacle. Over the course of his 19 years of service at the theme park, PUSH drew many fans and admirers at home in California, as well as in Florida, Hong Kong, Paris, and Tokyo.

The rubbish-focused robot looked nearly identical to his fellow Disneyland trash cans; his distinguishing attributes were his blue “PUSH” flaps–and of course, his ability to speak.

PUSH busy making friends with Disneyland guests. (Photo: screenshot/Astrosms/YouTube)

PUSH rolled around, told jokes, and chatted with guests. The robot’s speech and movements were controlled by one or two nearby operators, dressed in plainclothes and situated within 20 feet of the bot. The controller’s words went through a voice processor to come out with a quirky robotic tenor, enabling PUSH to tease and flirt with guests, its preference in humans more indicative of the gender of the operator than anything else.

Invented by Daniel Deutsch (who owns multiple patents for gadgets such as an ultraviolet illuminated fluorescent drinking vessel), PUSH was quite the performer, often posing for the camera, humming the Jaws theme song, and trying to rouse the crowd. PUSH was particularly popular among kids, and often asked to try on their hats and sunglasses.

The robot trash can would also convince guests to walk around with him, give him hugs, and even marry him. Once, he even facilitated an actual marriage proposal, captured on video. (Watch a few other videos and you’ll see that PUSH could get downright pushy, especially with young ladies. A common refrain: “Give me a hug! I said one more hug!”)

PUSH appeared well over a decade before another, better known trash-related robot, WALL-E, the protagonist of the 2008 Disney-Pixar animated box office hit. WALL-E (which stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter—Earth-class) is a mobile compactor box known for his friendliness and curiosity. In addition to being responsible for waste management, PUSH and WALL-E also share the desire for romantic companionship.

WALL-E developed fast feelings for a comely robot named EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), while PUSH was known for having a soft spot for Pipa, his bright yellow recycling bin counterpart. Pipa, whose name means “container” in Swahili, was known to roam Disneyland’s Animal Kingdom and encourage good recycling habits. Some places cite Pipa as PUSH’s cousin, but their relationship is open to speculation.

Pipa the recycling bin was also popular among the kiddos. (Photo: screenshot/George Taylor/YouTube)

PUSH disappeared for good from Disneyland in February of 2014. It was initially unclear whether PUSH got canned or whether the robot was just taking a leave of absence.

Daniel Deutsch said he wished that PUSH could stick around, but there was ambiguity in the contract between Disney and Real Simple Ideas LLC, the company that owned PUSH. Sadly, even #SavePush and #BringBackPush Twitter campaigns weren’t able to turn things around. 

Always trying to get hugs from the ladies. (Photo: screenshot/Astrosms/YouTube)

All things considered, 19 years is an impressive legacy for a Disney entertainer neither owned by Disney nor belonging to any of its films or franchises. And just last month, PUSH’s Facebook page posted a message wishing the beloved bot a happy 21st birthday.

No matter where PUSH is now, the animatronic gizmo will forever serve as a reminder that our kindly trash cans deserve just as much appreciation as they do gobs of garbage.