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  1. #1

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    Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Interactivity has played an important part in Disneyland since it opened its gates in 1955. From the exhibits in Tomorrowland'55 to the Frontierland Shootin' Exposition.


    50cents and empty the gun!

    In recent years WDI has added interactive components to more attractions. Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters and its soon to be opened younger brother Midway Mania have taken a dark ride and combined it with the Shootin' Expo to make a new kind of attraction. CMs used to dress in theme and interact with guests, is this seen as passe' these days?


    Toontown is one big interactive and real experience.

    Innoventions has been with us for a while and interactivity is a large part of that show. Now over in that lesser resort (you know, that little one over in Florida ) Epcot's updated Spaceship Earth has seen an entire portion of the omnimover darkride reduced to a black tunnel while the guest's attention is focused on a puny touchscreen to produce a short animation with the guest's face superimposed - the kind of activity normally reserved for Innoventions or an attraction's after show - where previously a surreal light show surrounded and wowed guests.


    Shoot em before they ... um do very little the poor things.

    WDI seem to have it in their minds that guests crave this video game like kind of interactivity. It has the potential to enhance some attractions when integrated well. But where does it work and where does it fail? Guests can watch TV and play games in the comfort of their own homes, so perhaps touch screens are a mistake in dark rides? Is BLAB still popular? Will Midway Mania make BLAB redundant?


    Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse was a plethora of interactivity to clamber over.

    How much interactivity is too much? What kinds of interactivity complement Disneyland's attractions? What kinds do not? And of these new interactive attractions, when does the interactivity stop adding to the ride experience and become the whole experience?

    What's your answers to the many questions above? What's your view of interactivity in the Parks, both virtual and real?

    This forum is interactive, please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle and type your answers NOW!
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

  2. #2

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    It really depends on your definition of interactivity. Interaction happens in most attractions and lands because you are being transported to that other time/place... That was the purpose from the start - putting you into the experience. New technologies come out all the time and they always try to stay ahead of it, and find ways to best use it - including plussing on existing attractions.
    There can never be too much interaction. (You can usually decide on your level of participation, too)
    Hopefully, all interaction complements, instead of distracts.
    You decide if it enhances or distracts as well as if it is all there is vs. being a part of it - even on BLAB you can shoot (a little or a lot), spin (a little or a lot), or just sit and watch it all go be (and still be entertained) - with a combination of these things or just one. It's left up to each guest as to what they want the experience to be, and how involved.
    Same with the Treehouse (Swiss or Tarzan versions), or anything else, really. Most guests choose to get past Main Street as quickly as possible, to get to wherever they are focused on, while others slowly stroll and notice the endless details and become lost in that other time.
    Just my 2 centavos.


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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    I'm a big fan of Buzz and I think Midway Mania will be great too. It'll be interesting to see what kind of interactivity they can do that's not like a shooting gallery, though. I think whatever replaces the Peoplemover could use a lot of interactivity, like a screen that you can play with to find out about Tomorrowland's attractions or a way to spin the car around so you can see certain things.

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Interactivity should never be the focus. Making a great attraction should be the focus. If some form of interactivity furthers the storyline or the enjoyability of the experience, by all means, do it. The Indy queue perfectly exemplifies this. But when interactivity is WDI's main goal and aspiration with the attraction--as seems to be the case with BLAB and, quite possibly, Midway Mania--I'm afraid the result will be an attraction that's rather fun for a few years, until the next big thing comes out. Then the interactivity has been one-upped, and since the attraction offers little else besides interactivity, it doesn't have a leg to stand on.

    Disney's big defense for the increasing focus on interactivity is, "Well, how else do you address the thousands of kids entering the park with Gameboys, looking down the whole day, focused on the one place they can get interactivity?" When I first heard this argument, I felt like maybe my objections really weren't all that reasonable. Sound argument, right? But then I thought about it, and I realized that I don't see that happening. Honestly, all the kids I see are enjoying being at Disneyland. (Or being brats, occasionally...but what are you gonna do.) Maybe I just haven't noticed, or maybe I've been there on all the wrong days...but I still see people being pretty engaged with the park. Especially with the attractions that have legs other than (or in addition to) interactivity to stand on. You think the line for BLAB ever matches the line for Indy? Tell you what--check back in ten years, and observe how much the gap has widened.


  5. #5

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    I think Data's right, you have to judge interactivity by how it improves the attraction and not as an end in itself. As some have also said on simmilar threads, a better buzz-word to describe what WDI has traditionally done best is immersion not interaction. They are certainly related, but you do not need interaction necessarily to produce immersion. I like interactive elements often, but I think it's a dangerous path for WDI to follow as it seems to often result in less overall immersion, as is the case with BLAB. I enjoy the ride but I don't feel like it offers sufficient emersion such that it would still be enjoyable without participating in the "shooting gallery" aspect. Just riding through the ride is pretty boring IMO.

    I also agree that immersion can so completely thrill all the senses and that a Gameboy offers little competition for most people. (Though if kids are using them in the often rediculous lines, who could blame them for that? Which might be where the perception Dis has mentioned above comes from.)

    Obviously the higher ups think it's important for Dis to tap into this 'gamer Market' which really is not a bad idea at all. The problem is how to do this. I think ideally they'd be bringing successful gaming franchises into the parks and offering immersive experiences within those worlds. The problem with this, is that they would have to find appropriate source material, which there is little of. They would have to buy the rights to most games, and the most popular games are violent and not appropriate to the Disney brand anyway. So ideally, Disney needs to develop their own original source materials ie new video games that appeal to all ages.

    Since this would be difficult, and require some really creative and visionary people, and cost a lot of money, it's easier for Dis to just try and capture some of this market by offering interactivity within the confines of properties they already own in attraction form. It's far from ideal but it's an understandable outcome of the desire to connect to this market without really holding many significant properties with which to make this connection.

  6. #6

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    Interactivity should never be the focus. Making a great attraction should be the focus. If some form of interactivity furthers the storyline or the enjoyability of the experience, by all means, do it. The Indy queue perfectly exemplifies this. But when interactivity is WDI's main goal and aspiration with the attraction--as seems to be the case with BLAB and, quite possibly, Midway Mania--I'm afraid the result will be an attraction that's rather fun for a few years, until the next big thing comes out. Then the interactivity has been one-upped, and since the attraction offers little else besides interactivity, it doesn't have a leg to stand on.
    Great point. Star Tours suffers from this same concept. When it first debuted the idea of a "motion simulator" was the hottest thing going. Then everyone else realized it was the hottest thing going and installed one in malls across the country. Today Star Tours is nothing more than an uncrowded distraction to the overall Tomorrowland experience.

    Disney's big defense for the increasing focus on interactivity is, "Well, how else do you address the thousands of kids entering the park with Gameboys, looking down the whole day, focused on the one place they can get interactivity?" When I first heard this argument, I felt like maybe my objections really weren't all that reasonable. Sound argument, right? But then I thought about it, and I realized that I don't see that happening. Honestly, all the kids I see are enjoying being at Disneyland. (Or being brats, occasionally...but what are you gonna do.) Maybe I just haven't noticed, or maybe I've been there on all the wrong days...but I still see people being pretty engaged with the park. Especially with the attractions that have legs other than (or in addition to) interactivity to stand on. You think the line for BLAB ever matches the line for Indy? Tell you what--check back in ten years, and observe how much the gap has widened.
    I think Disney should be including a variety of both physical interactivity and virtual interactivity. If they can find a healthy balance between the two, one or the other won't stick out much. I have seen plenty of people playing their PSP's or DS's while waiting in line, but as for just experiencing Disneyland as a whole, or experiencing an attraction, most people don't whip out their portable device so they can get their interactivity fix.

    It is wise that Disney chooses interactivity avenues, but it is a balance that needs to be constantly tweaked.
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  7. #7

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    To me there are two different things here. Interactivity IMO is the CM in costume doing M & G, exploring the caves of Tom SayerPirates Lair, the que for Indy or Haunted Mansion, and Billy Hill coming off stage to "flirt" with grandma in the front row seats.

    And then there is Virtual Interaction...BLAB, HISTA, ect...

    I believe the first is an important core entertainment that made DL great and separates it from amusement parks. The latter is interesting but easily reproduced in other forms (like home video games) and so not something that should be a "core concept" for DL attractions.

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Star Tours suffers from this same concept. When it first debuted the idea of a "motion simulator" was the hottest thing going. Then everyone else realized it was the hottest thing going and installed one in malls across the country. Today Star Tours is nothing more than an uncrowded distraction to the overall Tomorrowland experience.
    Well, I think that last sentence is pushing it a little, but you're right that Star Tours definitely has a LOT less of a leg to stand on now than it did then. (Doesn't help that the attraction itself is aging rather more than it should be allowed to...but that's another story.)


  9. #9

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Everyone's made some great points so far. Some of the stand outs I think have been:
    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    Interactivity should never be the focus. Making a great attraction should be the focus. If some form of interactivity furthers the storyline or the enjoyability of the experience, by all means, do it ... and since the attraction offers little else besides interactivity, it doesn't have a leg to stand on ... Tell you what--check back in ten years, and observe how much the gap has widened.
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
    ...you have to judge interactivity by how it improves the attraction and not as an end in itself ... a better buzz-word to describe what WDI has traditionally done best is immersion not interaction. They are certainly related, but you do not need interaction necessarily to produce immersion ... immersion can so completely thrill all the senses and that a Gameboy offers little competition for most people. (Though if kids are using them in the often rediculous lines, who could blame them for that? ...
    Quote Originally Posted by mainstreetcm View Post
    ... I think Disney should be including a variety of both physical interactivity and virtual interactivity. If they can find a healthy balance between the two, one or the other won't stick out much ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Goofy Daddy View Post
    To me there are two different things here. Interactivity IMO is the CM in costume doing M & G, exploring the caves of Tom SayerPirates Lair, the que for Indy or Haunted Mansion, and Billy Hill coming off stage to "flirt" with grandma in the front row seats ... And then there is Virtual Interaction...BLAB, HISTA, ect...

    I believe the first is an important core entertainment that made DL great and separates it from amusement parks. The latter is interesting but easily reproduced in other forms (like home video games) and so not something that should be a "core concept" for DL attractions.

    Is is just a case of the marketeering types looking at the iPod generation and thinking that they must address that? I agree with those above who view that as a very short sighted opinion. What kid would have their face planted in their DS when they're walking down Main Street for the first time? I think the portable entertainment only comes out when the seasoned guest is failed by the in line entertainment.

    The point about immersion that Uncle Bob made is a fantastic point. Disneyland isn't Six Flags; a series of thrills separated by basic landscaping. Disneyland's greatest feature is that once you enter under the arches you are transported. There's a feast for all the senses at every step.

    Why is it then that WDI are cloning and plusing BLAB in Midway? Are staged darkrides a thing of the past? Will Ariel's Darkride be the last we see?
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Are staged darkrides a thing of the past?
    There are forces at WDI who wholeheartedly believe that they're a beautiful thing of the past. Emphasis on "of the past." It's truly an unfortunate trend.


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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    I would argue that interactivity isn't just for the game boy fans, it's everywhere now. From cell phones with multiple functions, to blogging, to ipods.

    Disney is hoping to tap into a broad based trend.

    Whether they are succesfully doing it or not, is another matter.

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by monotonehell View Post

    Shoot em before they ... um do very little the poor things.


    This sums up exactly what I thought of BLAB.

    I went to lazer tag here in Santa Maria about a week before I first went on BLAB, and I found lazer tag to be a richer interactive experience - targets that can move freely, think for themselves, and blast you back. Where BLAB could have trumped lazer tag was in the theming department - if it had been a really immersive thematic experience with a little basic interactivity as a bonus - but they went for cheap flats and a muddled storyline.

    I think they if they were going to do a ride-through video game, they should have done a ride where you're actually supposed to be going into a video game, like you're being transformed into living data. That would have tied it in a little more Tommorowland's technology theme, anyway. They could have themed it to Tron, or to actual longtime-popular video game franchises like Mario, Zelda, Mega Man and Metroid.

    This thread also made me think of this:

    I'd like to see more figures like the skull in Pirates and the vultures in Splash Mountain that address the rider directly. It's not interactivity, but it does make me feel more involved in the "story" of the ride.
    "Happy Working Song" parody for DCA remodel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-TYESfNTP8&feature=plcp

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    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vea...feature=relmfu


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  13. #13

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anatole69 View Post
    I would argue that interactivity isn't just for the game boy fans, it's everywhere now. From cell phones with multiple functions, to blogging, to ipods...
    I know I am, and I think others are; when we use "gameboy fans" and similar terms we are generally referring to the whole iPod/DS/PSP/Cellphone/Youtube/iPhone/any-thing-else phenomena. Pretty much any personal window into the virtual.

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    ...I'd like to see more figures like the skull in Pirates and the vultures in Splash Mountain that address the rider directly. It's not interactivity, but it does make me feel more involved in the "story" of the ride.
    That I think is the difference between immersion and interaction that was pointed out above. It's like when the actors of a stage play break the fourth wall and address the audience (if that TV term can be extended to the stage?) it makes the audience feel involved through the interaction rather than just interacting.

    It's the difference between a poker game and a poker machine. (maybe)
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    I went to lazer tag here in Santa Maria about a week before I first went on BLAB, and I found lazer tag to be a richer interactive experience - targets that can move freely, think for themselves, and blast you back. Where BLAB could have trumped lazer tag was in the theming department - if it had been a really immersive thematic experience with a little basic interactivity as a bonus - but they went for cheap flats and a muddled storyline.
    make me feel more involved in the "story" of the ride.
    See that's the difference between Interactivity and Virtual Interactivity. BLAB would be truely interactive if the robots and Zurg could shoot back at target areas placed on the vehicles guests ride in. If they hit your vehicle before you can hit them then you lose points or your gun deactivates for a "penalty period" or some other consequence. Instead of sitting and blasting at one target (the triangle or Zurg's "secret" chest target) you'd have to try to blast all the targets before they got you.

    It's still video game mentality, but at least more interactive than BLAB is now.

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    Re: Disney and Interactivity - many questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by monotonehell View Post
    That I think is the difference between immersion and interaction that was pointed out above. It's like when the actors of a stage play break the fourth wall and address the audience (if that TV term can be extended to the stage?) it makes the audience feel involved through the interaction rather than just interacting.

    It's the difference between a poker game and a poker machine. (maybe)
    I agree. That's why I used the Billy Hill example in my first post. The fact that Billy really does interact and talk to specific audience members makes the show truely interactive and adds to the entertainment and atmosphere of the show.

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