We recently looked at seven attractions that Disney will likely never build again in their theme parks, everybody told me that while the list was accurate, it was also depressing. Today I want to offer a little more hope (in most cases) with ten technologies I expect to see in Disney use in its resorts and attractions soon.
I wrote about some of these in my book “Dispatch from Disneyland” back in 1999 by extrapolating from some very early experiments Walt Disney Imagineering was doing a the time. It’s great to see some of these becoming less speculative fiction and more non-fiction.
1. Increased personalization – This is one of the true promises of MyMagic+ and the RFID and NFC chips that make it possible. As a guest, you won’t just just hear or see your name or image in an attraction, but attractions will change their environment around you based on your preferences. For instance it could adjust sound level, brightness, scariness factor, etc.. Disney can analyze your shopping, dining, and attraction patterns and make suggestions on merchandise, food locations, and attractions may have have missed or when a short line is available for a suitable attraction. The list is pretty much endless and the technology to do most of this is here today.
2. Augmented reality – We’ve seen limited use of virtual reality in Disney Quest, but AR is more about laying facts, data, experiences on top of our existing reality resulting in a more immersive, connected experience. Aurasma is just a parlor trick compared to what we could see here. 3D Augmented Reality is in the near future. There are any number of demo videos out there, here’s a semi-recent one where it’s easy to see some of these ideas translated into theme park experiences.
3. Self-driving Podcars – Yes, it’s the future WALL-E warned us about, but just like the Monorail was the future of transportation back in 1959, the autonomous self-driving podcar is the future of all transportation. Walt Disney World is the perfect place to model this. I wrote a little about this before. The technology has become much more advanced in the last 18 months and Google even has a prototype vehicle which would work perfectly within the confines of Walt Disney World. Come on Bob Chapek, make it happen as your first big move as new Disney Parks & Resorts Chair.
4. Minority Report / Corning Glass – In the not too distant future any surface can be made interactive. Remember this video from Corning?
Yeah, that was 2011. They’re getting a lot closer to making it ready for retail. But first, it needs to show up in a showcase location, and really what better location that Disney, right? I mean you could redo EPCOT’s FutureWorld in this stuff and really blow everyone away.
5. Drones – The burrito drone may seem like a practical joke, but in a resort setting like Walt Disney World, having delivery to your room or spot at a water park by drone is a real possibility. Doesn’t have to be food either, could be lost magic bands, a toothbrush, a special gift from Mickey Mouse. Not sure how this would work inside an attraction, but I trust Disney’s Imagineers to figure it out.
6. Haptic feedback / ultrasonics – This technology will allow what you see in the virtual / augmented reality space to feel real to the touch. Disney Research has been doing a lot of work in this area and I expect to see it brought to theme park attractions in the not too distant future (maybe even in Avatar).
Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts are Disney’s timeshare properties. They’re basically very nice condos attached to Disney deluxe properties and while booking priority is given to DVC owners, non-owners can also enjoy these properties if they book far enough in advance. These one, two and three bedroom properties feature multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a washer and dryer, and full kitchens. The downside, of course, is the price. But the upside is all the comforts of home.
Of course, not everyone thinks that having to cook on vacation is a great deal, but for those who want to cook or, for those that need to cook due to food allergies, having a kitchen can be a great bonus. So what’s available in these kitchens? Obviously, they’re not as well equipped as your kitchen at home. You’ll find an electric range with a ceramic cooktop, a microwave, full-size refrigerator, toaster, and dishwasher.
A family of five isn’t a “big” family by any means, but it is by Disney standards, where most rooms sleep four people. Because of this, many families mistakenly believe they won’t fit in a standard room, much less in a value room, when in reality there are some attractive options for “larger” families. Even better, these options don’t have to break the bank.
Value Resort Options:
Disney value resorts are the gold standard for guests looking to economize on vacation. The good news is that a value room gives you all the benefits of staying on property at a great price. The no-so-good news is that a standard room in a value resort can be a tight fit, with just two double beds and a small bathroom, and since these rooms only sleep four (plus one child under the age of three), they’re unsuitable for larger families. Fortunately, almost all Disney resort rooms connect, so you can book two rooms for up to eight people. Depending on the ages of the children, parents can have one room to themselves and the kids can share the other room, with the door open between them. This is by far the most economical option for most larger families. When you make your reservation, ask to book your rooms under one reservation number and one deposit.
Okay, so it’s painfully obvious that I love Disney World, but even a diehard fan like me has the occasional head-scratching moment over some things that achieve cult status among Disney fans. Whether it’s food, a certain restaurant, or even a resort, I just don’t get it and I think I’m not the only one. Or at least I hope not.
Here are my top five overrated Disney things.
5. The Polynesian.
For years I’ve wondered why the Polynesian, which essentially looks like the hotel the Brady Bunch would have stayed in during their family trip to Hawaii if Mr. Brady wasn’t still paying alimony to his first wife, has such a cult following. Sure, it’s got a great pool and gorgeous landscaping. The way they light the grounds at night is breathtaking and, dare I say it, romantic. And you can’t beat the location on the Magic Kingdom monorail. Beyond that, however, it’s kind of underwhelming: Dark rooms, dated furniture, and a small lobby. And I’m pretty sure that 90% of the plugs in the rooms don’t even work.