To me the real promise of the next-generation technology Walt Disney World reportedly spent northwards of $1.6 billion installing in its parks has always been to augment the guest experience with even more magic. Disney chose to start with a different set of items; such as how you can use it to pay for items without cash, identify your party for Photopass, or activate a Fastpass+ reservation. But the technology really does have the potential to revolutionize theme parks as we know them.
A program called StoryMaker lets Disney start exploring these augmented experiences for guests. This week Disney finally turned on the screens it installed at the end of the “it’s a small world” boat ride and now guests get a custom farewell message.
If you’ve used Photopass and saw a surprise photo from on board an attraction, you’ve actually had a taste of how it works. Disney’s MagicBands actually have two RFID chips inside, one that only works at touch points like you use when entering the park or at the entrance to the Fastpass+ queue, the other that can be read by Disney at a distance with scanners. This lets Disney know, for instance, what row of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train you’re on for that special ride photo. They use the same tech to know which boat you’re on in IASW and then put your name, and the names of other people in your row, up on those screens.
It’s a cute experience. Alas, it wasn’t working consistently for the boats I went on. One time through only one name was shown on the screens and the rest of the boat got nothing.
In other areas of Walt Disney World, there are reportedly already tests at meet and greets. For instance in EPCOT, the voice of The Genie might echo out of Aladdin’s Lamp greeting you not just by name, but your city and/or country of origin.
The technology is expected to be used heavily in Pandora: World’s of Avatar. It’s the first entire land to be constructed post invention of MyMagic+ and the use of MagicBands.
Yes, this same technology can be used to track you through the parks and in the shops. You might get a coupon for that Dooney and Bourke purse you spent 5 minutes looking at but decided not to buy on your visit.
The potential is endless. Personally, I hope we start seeing StoryMaker adding new levels of magic around the resort real soon. How about you?