The official Disney Parks blog today announced that commencing today — and barring any technical issues — Mickey Mouse will not only be meeting and greeting with guests at the Magic Kingdom, but conversing them as well, marking a new major milestone in a very lengthy history of attempting to bring characters to life in all new ways ahead of full NextGen technology implementation.
While the Walt Disney World Resort has had gaming experiences for some time such as Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and soon A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, the Disneyland Resort has appeared to escaped unscathed from the diversions. In truth, the resort has quietly been working on a project called Disney Kudos, which up until now has been mostly a mystery.
While Walt Disney World’s billion-dollar NextGen project has been no secret for quite some time, along with many of its aspects such as extensive use of RFID, the company itself has remained famously mum about the extent of the project, something we have been discussing for well over a year.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: When is a character not a character? When they’re an ‘experience delivery system.’ Get it? Okay, maybe it’s not that funny, or clever, but according to a patent application for a system known as ‘Managing Experience State to Personalize Destination Visits,’ it’s the future truth — and it’s a key element to the MyMagic+/My Disney Experience coming to the Walt Disney World Resort as part of its NextGen experience.
After starting the roll out of FASTPASS+ technology at the Magic Kingdom, which not only included the installation of temporary (and subsequent permanent) RFID readers at return lines at select attractions, along with limited tests, as well as pilot programs to enter the theme parks via RFID and — most recently — pay for purchases and unlock hotel rooms using embedded RFID chips in the Key to the World (KTTW) cards at the Contemporary Resort, it appears Walt Disney World (NYSE:DIS) is steadily pushing on to establish its NextGen technology at the Resort, this time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In its final incarnation, FASTPASS+ — a subset of the MAGIC+ framework and sometimes referred to as XPASS — will allow eligible guests to reserve ride times in advance, using their MAGIC BAND to access the attraction’s queue. The customizable MAGIC BAND wristband will double as what’s currently known as the Key to the World, allowing guests to use the same magnetic stip card for their resort room key as well as park tickets and more.
When Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opens this summer, its guests will be one of the first to experience the driving force behind Walt Disney World’s NextGen project — the room key. Instead of the traditional card key readers that most hotels use, guests at Art of Animation will access their room via RFID. Although some vacation destinations (notably Great Wolf Lodge) have already embraced the magic of RFID for years and have even taken it far beyond the hotel room, this gesture is particularly noteworthy because it signals the start of what we’ve already known to be coming and it’s just the tiniest tip of the largest iceberg this universe has ever seen.
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We have obtained what is essentially concept art for the next generation (NextGen) interactive queue for “it’s a small world” at the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Taking advantage of the NextGen infrastructure in which guests will be able to personalize their experiences at Walt Disney World, the “it’s a small world” interactivity begins at home. Using their computer or smart phone, guests will design their own “it’s a small world doll.” When they visit the attraction at the Magic Kingdom, monitors placed throughout the attraction will virtually ride along with the guest (or the monitors may be installed in the vehicles, this is an unknown at this time). Guests will also be able to send e-cards spotlighting their virtual trip aboard the happiest cruise to have ever sailed the seven seas.
Pages of banter and speculation have arisen from the photo of the model of the new Fantasyland Fantasy Forest expansion at the Magic Kingdom ever since we first brought it to you (incidentally, you can see a close-up of the model’s Sleeping Beauty cottage in the spring 2010 issue of D23 magazine). Much of which has to do with the plans for Pixie Hollow, for which the model shows an attraction similar to a new one coming to Disney’s California Adventure, but some say said plans have since been scrapped in favor of a ‘next generation,’ interactive meet & greet with the Disney fairies.