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.
Fuel for this speculation can also be found in this Inside Walt Disney Imagineering video released by Disney Parks back in August. You’ll find the element in question in the 2:16 – 2:22 range in which Tink herself makes an appearance.
So what is it? Thanks to newly granted US patent #7652824, we may just have been provided the answer.
The patent, titled System and/or method for combining images, looks at ways to ‘plus’ a very aged but still convincing theatrical effect known as Pepper’s ghost, which is often used in existing Disney attractions, most notably the Haunted Mansion. However, the patented system takes Pepper’s ghost well into the 21st century making use of computers to dynamically generate the interactive images and backgrounds that can be superimposed onto the reflective surface the guest is viewing, which also undoubtedly builds on existing technology used for Stitch and Crush interactive interactions already in the parks.
Essentionally this means that the next time you see Tinker Bell, she may literally appear right before your eyes. Allowing the physical elements to be dynamically moved, Tink can appear to be flying next to you or even in front and behind you. And that’s just the tip of the virtual iceberg.
Not only will you be able to vocally interact with Tink, but sophisticated sensors and technology will allow Tink to be able to dynamically determine how many guests are in the room with you, focus on various physical aspects of yours and follow your movements. She’ll literally be able to look you (or another member in your group) in the eye. She’ll be able to appear to touch you, interact in different ways such as visually appearing to place virtual Mouse Ears on your head (if you aren’t wearing them already) and more. She can even grow or shrink dynamically to be more suitable to your own (automatically determined) height. She may also be able to dynamically interact with physical objects such as laser pointers or bluetooth enabled devices.
Of course this is just one possible implementation of the patent. It can easily be adapted to shows or attractions, so there’s no telling where this technology may dynamically appear.
No, this isn’t one of those reports talking about the online petition going around to coerce Disney Parks into transforming Tom Sawyer’s Island into a LOST attraction. This is a report on a report from Movie|Line which claims to have a source that reveals that there is in fact an attraction based on the popular ABC series in the works at Walt Disney Imagineering. Along with the disclaimer that everything is subject to change, the report goes as far as to say that Imagineering ‘insiders’ had been caught talking about the project at the International Associations of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAPPA) show in Las Vegas.
The article then goes on to explain that the attraction is set to use the same KUKA robotic arm that’s being used by fellow Disney attraction ‘The Sum of All Thrills’ in Epcot’s Innoventions and will be also used by Universal Studios Orlando.
You can read the report here.
After Harriet Burns — the first female Walt Disney Imagineer — passed away in July 2008, daughter Pam Burns-Clair received such an outpouring of love complete with colorful stories of her mother from family and friends, both personal and professional, that she decided to create a tribute book. Together with co-author Don Peri, they solicited and received many more stories about Harriet and they all are gathered in Walt Disney’s First Lady of Imagineering, Harriet Burns along with many photos of Harriet not yet seen by the public.
Through this limited edition hard cover, coffee-table style book, you will discover the range and depth of Harriet’s impact on those lives she touched whether as a mother, grandmother, relative, mentor, co-worker or friend. The stories will bring a smile or a tear (or more likely both) and will contribute to an understanding and appreciation of this tiny woman with a heart as big as her native Texas.
You can take the boy out of the Osborne Lights, but you can’t take the Osborne Lights out of former Walt Disney Imagineer Ric Turner who has made it a tradition to turn his home into a lights and musical spectacle for the Christmas season as well as Halloween. (Turner now operates as a consultant for WDI).
Below is a video of Ric’s 2009 holiday display which scales up the popular video game Guitar Hero.
Be sure to check out Ric’s other YouTube videos including his 2009 Halloween spectacle in which onlookers were serenaded by a 12 foot tall jack’o'lantern (face).
Hosted by Imagineer Diego Parras, the documentary uses historical and rare film footage to show the story of the transformation of swampland in central Florida to the most visited theme park in the world today through the stories and direct recollections of respected Imagineers such as Tom Fitzgerald, Tony Baxter, Kathy Rogers, Eric Jacobson, Kevin Rafferty and — of course — Marty Sklar, the only individual to open all 11 Disney parks.
“Our Imagineering the Magic: Disneyland DVD has been one of most successful park DVDs,” commented Betsy Singer, Product Developer for Disney Theme Park Merchandise. “Our guests enjoy the behind the magic stories and inspiration that the Imagineers bring to these videos and we hope they will enjoy Imagineering the Magic: Magic Kingdom as much as they have our first DVD.”
Imagineering the Magic: MagicKingdom has a suggested retail price of $29.95 and is currently available at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts as well as through WDW Merchandising at 407-363-6200.
The Imagineering the Magic series was created by Richard Skillman and co-produced by Richard with Cameron Roberts ,Greg Jones and Mark Rhodes of D7, a Disney production partner.
GLENDALE, Calif., Nov. 17, 2009 – Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was honored today with the top award within the themed entertainment industry.
TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) announced that Toy Story Mania! received the Award for Outstanding Achievement for an Attraction. Toy Story Mania! is a high-energy, immersive, ride-through adventure that invites guests to test their skills at a variety of carnival midway games hosted by the characters from the Disney·Pixar Toy Story films. The attraction is located at both Disney’s California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
TEA announced the 16th Annual Thea Award recipients during the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction’s (IAAPA) annual conference. The Thea Awards recognize achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. Recognized internationally as a symbol of excellence, the Thea Awards consider project submissions from all over the world. TEA praised Toy Story Midway Mania! as follows in their press release:
It’s the eve of D23 Expo and Mickey’s hard at work making sure everything goes off without a hitch. Join Mickey Mouse as he checks out The Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives and all sorts of things going up for the Expo like the 5’3″ Buzz Lightyear made entirely of LEGO bricks and the fully interactive Storytellers’ Sandbox from Walt Disney Imagineering. Footage courtesy of Disney.
ANAHEIM, Callif., July 17, 2009 – Marty Sklar, Executive Vice President and Walt Disney Imagineering Ambassador, spent a lifetime making magic for the Walt Disney Company. After 54 years of service, he was honored with a tribute window at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday, July 17. The celebration coincided with the 54th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland, the place where Sklar began his Disney career.
The tradition of dedicating a second-story window along Main Street, U.S.A., was begun by Walt Disney as a way to pay tribute to the men and women who were instrumental in the creation and operation of Disneyland. Sklar’s window, unveiled on July 17, can be seen above City Hall at Town Square in Disneyland.
Sklar began his Disney career in June 1955 as editor of “The Disneyland News,” just one month before Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. Sklar also worked personally with Walt Disney on several major projects, including the creation of landmark Disney attractions for the 1964 World’s Fair and leading the design of Walt Disney’s final vision, Epcot.
Sklar holds great memories of all 11 Disney parks around the world, but he has a particular fondness for Disneyland.
“Disneyland will always be a special place for me because it’s the only park that Walt Disney walked in,” Sklar said. “For me, retiring on this date is significant, having been here with Walt for the opening of the original Disney park.”
For five days at Epcot in 1999 and for an equally short time in Castaway Cay, guests from around the world had the chance to meet with one of the largest accomplishments in audio animatronic technology: the DRU-1 (Dolphin Robotics Unit). Created by Edge Innovations in partnership with Walt Disney Imagineering, DRU-1 wowed the crowds but was ultimately decided to not have the potential of being an every-day attraction in the theme parks.
Here’s a video of DRU-1 in action courtesy of his WDI show producer:
And for more a lot more great information on the Walt Disney World project told from the perspective of someone who was directly involved, check out DisneyShawn’s blog here.
After many trips to Walt Disney World contemplating the idea, I finally bit the bullet and invested into the Dining with an Imagineer program which takes place during lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby. Offered only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the program which costs $60.99 + tax and 18% gratuity per adult (bringing the per adult total to about $75) and $34.99 (or about $45 total) per child, brings the group (maximum of eight guests) face to face with a bonafide Disney Imagineer at Walt Disney World.
Booking proved to be a bit of a challenge as, if I recall correctly, the 90 + 10 didn’t work too well. After a few days of trying, however, I was able to secure my reservation. A credit card is required at time of booking (there is a 48 hour cancellation policy), but you are not charged. Instead, you are presented a bill at the end of the event as with any dining. For booking purposes, it also appears to help if the Cast Member starts looking at The Hollywood Brown Derby moreso than for the experience itself.