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  1. #1

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    Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    The following article can be found at BBC NEWS | Technology | New tricks for Magic Kingdom . It's a interesting article about how Disney has captured the next generation of rides for the theme parks, and how well it is working.


    New tricks for Magic Kingdom



    By Heather Alexander
    BBC News, Disney World, Florida





    Once upon a time the rides in Disney World's Magic Kingdom provided thrills aplenty, promising tales of pirates and the chance to dive 20,000 leagues under the sea.



    But today's children, weaned on the Wii, Second Life and DVD "Easter eggs", look for more than the roller coasters and jerky automatons that entertained the youth of the 1970s.

    "The emerging generation expects more immersive, personal and interactive experiences in every facet of their lives," says Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering.

    It's a fact Disney had to face when it created its newest attractions for the Florida theme park.

    To demonstrate how the company is adapting to the era of interactivity I was shown around two new rides: Kim Possible (currently in testing) and Toy Story Mania, which opened last year.

    Toy Story Mania is basically a giant 3D video game. Riders board a car and are driven through and parked in front of a series of video screens. The task: to shoot objects as they fall or fly out of the screen.

    The 3D glasses mean objects do seem to come right out at you, and are sometimes accompanied by a fourth dimension: a blast of wind in your face or, in the case of water balloons, riders actually get wet.

    Many elements of a traditional video game have been deliberately incorporated - particularly incentives to try again - although the hour-long queue might put visitors off. There is also a highest score board so people can compete through the day against everyone in the park.




    It is also designed so no two games are the same - firing at certain spots on the screen causes different scenarios to play out.

    Just like Super Mario, in Bo Peep's Balloon Pop you can set off a whole raft of new high scoring targets by hitting specific spots in the sky. This opens the door for players to trade secrets as they do for other games.

    Kim Possible is an even more personal experience.
    Designed for "tweens" and early teens, it is based on the Disney Channel's Emmy award-winning cartoon about th eponymous crime-fighting teenager.

    Players report to a booth and are handed a fake mobile phone. When they switch it on characters from the cartoon appear to tell them they have been recruited for Kim's latest mission.

    As they navigate through, prompts tell visitors to go to certain spots in the park where the signal from the phone makes messages appear to help them with the quest. At one point a stuffed parrot comes to life to give players the latest clue. The idea is to have different missions to play in seven of the countries of Disney's Epcot Center.

    Kim Possible is due to launch early 2009 and more interactivity will follow - the next addition will be an American Idol-type karaoke attraction.

    They have definitely come a long way since Disneyland's first rides; there were gas-powered cars that all broke by the end of the first day and donkey rides through Frontierland.

    This adaptation is impressive and perhaps does herald a significant change.

    Disney led the way in animation for decades giving it the material to fill its parks with fantastic characters but with the dawn of computers the company lagged behind. But in 2006 the old stalwart bought hot digital imaging studio Pixar, creators of Toy Story.





    So is the young technology-savvy upstart dragging the old classic into the new world? The new rides at Disney World would suggest so.

    When Walt Disney pioneered the way to colour animation he did it because he wanted to make cartoons more real. Now with the company increasing production of 3D films, it seems that is the way forward in that quest.

    Bolt was the first film to be made from the start for 3D and a deal has been signed with Imax for a Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge which is scheduled for release at the end of this year.

    3D versions of Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story 1 and 2 are in the pipeline as well.

    As for the theme parks, the imagineers are well known for saying that by the time we see a technology in their rides, they have already taken it even further behind the scenes in development.
    Maybe the next decade will see total immersion Disney. For the meantime I just hope someone comes up with an alternative to those less than stylish 3D glasses...
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  2. #2

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    This is such a dumb excuse not to build expensive rides with audio animatronics.

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    I liked TSMM, but after riding, the thought came to my mind, what's going to happen when you can use 3D glasses on the next generation video game console? The technology will soon lose its uniqueness. AA figures may sometimes look crude, but the all-immersive rides like POTC, HM and IASW are the ones that last.
    Last edited by Disneykin Kid; 01-30-2009 at 11:54 AM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    I really enjoyed Kim Possible. I think its a great new idea and can't wait to see what else they'll come up with this.

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    I'm sorry but Bruce Vaughn must be smoking the crack.

    <Dusty steps on his soap box>

    He starts by saying that the Wii generation expects "immersive" experiences in every facet of their lives. The article talks about Disney cornering the "Next Generation" of theme park attractions. But the examples that they give are pathetic. Yes, Toy Story Mania is a good ride, but it isn't as "immersive" as Pirates or Haunted Mansion. It may be interactive, but it sure doesn't set the bar at a whole new level or give Disney the rights to brag about cornering the market.

    For goodness sake, Universal trumped Disney YEARS ago with the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure. Disney STILL hasn't attempted to match Universal's lead.

    You want "Immersive" and "Next Generation" Mr. Vaughn? Why don't you build some of the technologies that Imagineering has been working on since way before the Wii. What about a robo-coaster based ride vehicle in a black box setting using 3D technology and real set pieces (not just projections)? What about doing something of REAL Disney quality with a great story line as well as ground-breaking technology?

    Your audience is getting a bit tired of "Attractions" which don't deliver the big bang and Marketing which over-hypes minor attractions like American Idol and Kim Possible.

    If your release was intended to make people Ooooooh and Ahhhhhh, you have only succeded in confirming that Disney underestimates its audience and thinks they'll buy cheap PR like this. NO ONE is going to book a vacation to Orlando to see your American Idol "attraction."

    We aren't that stupid Mr. Vaughn! Build some REAL rides for goodness sake, that's what the kids today want (and have always wanted), if they want to play the Wii they'll do that at home!

    <Dusty steps off his soap box>
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  6. #6

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    So how do you really feel Dusty?
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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    For all of you complainers about Toy Story Midway Mania and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters, the thing that makes Disney unique is the variety of theme park experiences.
    Most parks have roller coasters and lame flat rides, but Disney has roller coasters, trains, log rides, movies, shows, immerisive rides like Pirates, dark rides, AND interactive rides like TSMM.
    It is the constant variety that keeps Disney fresh. Interactive rides might not be your "thing", but they are someone's "thing". And your "thing" might not be their "thing". That is what makes Disney unique in Theme/Amusement parks. Most parks appeal to ONLY young people and teens, but Disney appeals to the whole family.
    The great part about these kinds of attractions is they don't have height limits, so the whole family can ride together.

  8. #8

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    Quote Originally Posted by jedited View Post
    For all of you complainers about Toy Story Midway Mania and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters, the thing that makes Disney unique is the variety of theme park experiences.
    Most parks have roller coasters and lame flat rides, but Disney has roller coasters, trains, log rides, movies, shows, immerisive rides like Pirates, dark rides, AND interactive rides like TSMM.
    It is the constant variety that keeps Disney fresh. Interactive rides might not be your "thing", but they are someone's "thing". And your "thing" might not be their "thing". That is what makes Disney unique in Theme/Amusement parks. Most parks appeal to ONLY young people and teens, but Disney appeals to the whole family.
    The great part about these kinds of attractions is they don't have height limits, so the whole family can ride together.
    I agree with you 100% - I LOVE both Buzz and Midway Mania. They are so much better than your run of the mill dark ride. But that's not really what the press release in the first post is all about. I'm merely complaining about Disney over-hyping minor attractions and entertainment and making false claims about cornering the "Next Generation" of theme park attractions. If all we have to look forward to are more dark rides with guns, and low budget stage shows and gimmicks, then it will be a very sad decade for Disney. Let's hope they have more in store for us.
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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    If all we have to look forward to are more dark rides with guns, and low budget stage shows and gimmicks, then it will be a very sad decade for Disney. Let's hope they have more in store for us.
    Well, we already know there are two, large-scale, E-ticket attractions in the works with The Little Mermaid and Cars, and that they won't resemble 3-D dark rides with guns. So I'd say, for now at least, the future looks pretty bright.

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhantomBlot View Post
    Well, we already know there are two, large-scale, E-ticket attractions in the works with The Little Mermaid and Cars, and that they won't resemble 3-D dark rides with guns. So I'd say, for now at least, the future looks pretty bright.
    At DCA at least. I'm just riffing on Mr. Vaughn's ridiculous comments (and/or the stupid reporter from the BBC)
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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    At DCA at least. I'm just riffing on Mr. Vaughn's ridiculous comments (and/or the stupid reporter from the BBC)
    Yeah, I hear you. It's always disappointing to see expectations (or integrity) being lowered, especially when you consider what Walt would be doing with the talent and technology available today. There's nothing to say that some attractions can't be a little more video game than immersive experience (I'm also a fan of Buzz and Mania), but lately the company line seems to be focused on that approach and it can make me uncomfortable as well. Still, Anaheim seems to be getting all kinds of love right now, and hopefully the success of attractions like The Little Mermaid will drive home the point that not all rides need come equipped with a scoreboard.

    You can't fault Disney for trying to drum up business by manufacturing hype when it can't be found organically, but one would like to think (against one's better judgment) that the press would keep an impartial distance and report objectively.

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    Dusty, you said everything I wanted to say, but with more (and appropriate) fervor! I agree that the Imagineers are somehow looking at the world through (pun intended) 3D video game glasses! Yes, today's video games make kids expect immersive, interactive, action-packed experiences, but still, look at what has lasting value at the Disney parks. POTC, HM and IASW are not interactive in the video game sense, but crowds still flock to them. I think the Little Mermaid ride is a great chance at showing what the Imagineers can still do, and I hope they make the most of it, hopefully at Lasseter's urging, they will.

    'Interactive' is a great catch word, but I think they're too paranoid about it. Just make a great ride that totally transports you to another world and don't worry so much about interactivity. My suggestion? A great, immersive, AA-filled ride based on Star Wars for Tomorrowland! Star Tours is great, but I think the next step is to build a POTC-type attraction based on Star Wars! I predict that Star Wars is going to last, it has seared a fond memory (despite the recent films) in the mind of the American audience. So don't worry about it losing popularity. Maybe this idea is already in the works, I hope so, if it's not already, please put in my fervent vote. Thanks for listening.
    Last edited by Disneykin Kid; 01-30-2009 at 12:18 PM.

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    Also, consider this about interactivity - do people really want to be interactive when on vacation? It's kind of like asking whether people want to cook their own meals or eat out when on vacation. Yes, some people like to cook their own meals to save money. Yes, some people will definitely want the interactivity because of being used to video games, but some (or most) may just be content with just losing themselves in a totally immersive environment like POTC.

    Especially with the expectation of spending the whole tiring day (or many days) at a theme park(s), people may just want to chill and absorb the experience, rather than work for it (assuming you want to think of interactivity as work, it's at least more physical and mental than sitting in a ride vehicle and looking around). Just a thought.

    Also, I realize some people like the latest thing in interactive vacations - the adventure vacation where you go swimming with dolphins, riding a zip line, rock climbing etc. - the market that Disney is trying to capture in the 5th WDW park. But some of those things still kind of sound like work, so I don't think they're for the vacationer that wants to just enjoy the experience and not have to exert himself (except for walking the park all day long).

    As was said, it's great to have a variety of experiences at the parks, but I don't think that every ride from here on out has to be interactive to be great.
    Last edited by Disneykin Kid; 01-30-2009 at 09:43 PM.

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    This got me going - Look at the list of 'interactive' attractions
    Turtle Talk with Crush - Nice but not spectacular
    Monsters Laugh Floor - Heard it's not great
    Buzz Lightyear - Pretty good but still just a C or D ticket
    TSMM - Again pretty good, but will the technology remain unique? D Ticket, for now.
    American Idol - To be seen, but definitely won't last tooo long after the show goes off the air.
    Kim Possible - Sounds like fun, but based on a minor show.
    Adventures of Spider Man at Uni FL - Haven't seen it, but have heard it called the best theme park attraction ever.
    What's Disney missing in the ones listed here? Could it be 'total immersiveness'?
    Last edited by Disneykin Kid; 01-30-2009 at 01:16 PM.

  15. #15

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    Re: Has Disney got the next gen of theme park rides?

    I wonder if there is a way to meld some of this new technology into old rides like the matterhorn?
    Dave

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