In an appearance at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, on March 10, 2023, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro presented “Creating Happiness: The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling,” and it was certainly eye opening.
SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals celebrating the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture.
D’Amaro’s presentation showcased Disney’s long-time commitment to innovation by pulling back the curtain on ways Disney creates intentional environments envisioned and built for happiness.
“Disney’s 100-year legacy is built on the intersection of creativity, innovation, and storytelling,” D’Amaro said in the presentation. “We’re humbled by the fact that millions of people choose Disney as their vacation destination every year to escape into our beloved stories. To our guests around the world, I want to tell you that we’ve only just begun.”
He brought out some Disney Imagineers to share some of the unique and ambitious ideas that bring Disney stories to life and spark happiness for millions worldwide.
D’Amaro and the Imagineers shared insights about how creating immersive environments, sensory-provoking food and music, visual effects, interactions with favorite Disney characters, and world-class service from Disney cast members are all designed to bring people together to create their own stories again and again.
“We create our experiences because we know that when people spend time together and have real carefree fun together, that’s when they really connect.” Josh D’Amaro told the audience at SXSW.
The “Creating Happiness” presentation included the unveiling of a brand-new prototype robot.
The dynamic robot incorporates motion-capture data to create performances that evoke emotion, giving Disney Imagineers a new way to bring out a characters’ personality.
Pushing boundaries of what characters can do in Disney experiences, the new robot demonstrated its ability to make dynamic maneuvers, including falling down and getting back up, as well as a somersault.
Featuring bunny ears, many in attendance speculated this might be a prototype of Judy Hopps that may debut at the upcoming Zootopia land at Shanghai Disney.
Take a look:
@disneyparks Disney Imagineers showing their prototype robot has us like 🤖👀🛼 #SXSW #Disney #DisneyParks #Imagineers #Rollerskates #Robot #RobotTok #New #Technology ♬ original sound – Disney Parks
The presentation also included a behind-the-scenes look at another blue-sky concept (a play on the term “the sky’s the limit”) from Disney Imagineers that lets fans have a live conversation with pixie-sized Tinker Bell.
Take a look at Tink in action as she’s asked about that “rabbit” D’Amaro showed off earlier:
@disneyparks Replying to @orangebird98 Tinker Bell shared her thoughts about todays news from South by South West 🧚 💫 #SXSW #Austin #Disney #Imagineers #DisneyParks #Happiness #Storytelling #Announcement #Tinkerbell #Tinkerbelledit #Pixiedust ♬ original sound – Disney Parks
The Hulk character who debuted at D23 Expo 2023 and then appeared at Disney California Adventure Park in 2022 was also on display for the audience at SXSW.
This unique exoskeleton used in the costume allows performers to operate large, non-human characters, and has its origins in the Project EXO technology D’Amaro talked about at Destination D23 2021.
Looking to the Future
These creations are the latest in innovations from Disney Imagineers to bring Disney characters, both big and small, to life in new ways…and create the happiness for Guests that D’Amaro touched on at the beginning of the presentation.
“We want to invent the future once again – together – drawing on a range of voices and perspectives that will help us continue to create even more happiness around the world,” D’Amaro shared.
You can watch more of the robot and Tinker Bell parts of SXSW presentation here:
What do you think of this new technology? Let us know in the comments.
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