Archive for the ‘Theme Parks’ Category

Disney’s next “E ticket”? Star Wars Merged Reality

August 5, 2017

Disney’s next “E ticket”? Star Wars Merged Reality

Up until the early 1980s (and starting in 1959), the “E” ticket (or coupon) was the latest and greatest ride: the Submarine Voyage, the Matterhorn…the top of the line.

Even though Disney officially did away with the letter tickets thirty-five years ago, people still use the term. Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones…those would all be considered E tickets.

These are the buzzy rides…the ones people would talk about when they got home, brag about, and say, “You gotta ride…”

While Disney works on its Star Wars lands for 2019, this holiday season will bring a different kind of attraction…merged reality.

While that’s not the term that the company making it uses for it, it’s one of my four “flavors” as I defined in my first VAMM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality…which I’m tending to simplify to VAM) post:

Welcome, vammers! Our Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality coverage starts here

This is what I said:

“Merged Reality: this is new, and is a term used by Intel for its Alloy headset (YouTube videos). This is essentially the opposite of Mixed Reality. The headset maps the actual location (say, the furniture in a room), and then masks it with a story-appropriate appearance: a table might “change into” a control panel on a spaceship, or into a rock in a haunted forest”

What The VOID calls it is “Hyper-Reality”. They’ve been doing some really interesting things. You do wear a VR headset, and you don’t see the actual environment…but you are in a dedicated space for this particular experience.

If you pick up a light saber, the hilt can actually be a physical object…and then you would see and hear the “blade”, which would react appropriately as it fought another player. The hilt could even be made to vibrate with a hit. I don’t know that these are part of this actual experience…just giving you the idea.

It’s also social…you play with your family or your friends. As they move, you see their avatars move in VR. When I’ve been socially with people in VR, seeing their avatars’ heads move when they look at something makes it feel very real.

You could be interacting with actors or CGI…or a mix. You won’t really have a way to tell…until an actor does something physical.

In this

The VOID post

they point out that it could even involve smells!

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will open in Downtown Disney at Disneyland (in California) and Disney Springs at Disneyworld (in Florida).

This will be judged on a number of things:

  • How does it feel?
  • How immersive is it?
  • How Disney is it?
  • How Star Wars is it?

On the last one, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) is involved, so that’s a good sign.

We also don’t know enough about the logistics yet…is it a separate charge? It certainly could be…you pay for things in Downtown Disney. How long will the wait be (only so many people can be in there at a time)? How long will you get in the experience (again, it can’t be that long, since people are waiting)?

My guess? People will talk about it…it will be an E ticket. 🙂

Oh, one other thing: this is not going to be dependent on the Disney infrastructure, meaning that they could hypothetically open it in other places across the country…and around the globe.

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A trip to Disneyland 2013

April 30, 2013

A trip to Disneyland 2013

My Significant Other and I just got back from a trip to Disneyland, where we celebrated a 25th anniversary.

I thought I’d give you some impressions of it.

I’m a Disney fan from way back, and have been there many times…including with my SO before.

I continue to be amazed (every time) at how good their Customer Service is.

We did have a problem before we even got to the park. We had booked a hotel through Disney travel, and when we got the confirmation, I didn’t realize it was for another hotel.

When we got down there (we drove for about 6 1/2 hours), and walked to the hotel, we realized it was the wrong one.

That was an issue, because we have special dietary needs, so we bring our own food…we really need a kitchen.

I called Disney Travel, and they got us into another hotel with a kitchen smoothly and efficiently. It was a bit funny when they offered us a food credit in the park (after I’d explained the food issue)…so instead, they just waived the change fee (making an exception for us).

One really cool thing they did was give us buttons to wear that said it was our anniversary. What was nice was that so many of the park cast members (employees) would yell, “Happy anniversary!” as we walked past…even people selling popcorn and such. That sounds hokey, but it really did make us feel special. They also have buttons if it’s your birthday…if you go, check in at Town Hall about getting them.

We got in on an Early Morning, and Tomorrowland and Fantasyland were open.

We went on Star Tours…wow, has that changed! I missed the Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) voiced robot, but it was fun. My SO (like some other people on simulators) has had problems with the ride before, but didn’t have that same effect this time.

We rode the Matterhorn, which we enjoy…it got me wondering as to how many people now think of that as the “Abominable Snowman” ride…I heard a lot of people mentioning that, which is a relatively new addition.

We were able to pretty much walk onto Indiana Jones after the rest of the park opened: that’s our favorite ride! It’s interesting that some of the best rides are not based on strictly Disney characters, but of course, they were also added later.

We continued around to Pirates, which now prominently features Captain Jack Sparrow…even the dialog in the siege scene has changed to relate to the Captain.

There were also some projection effects that were new.

Next up: The Haunted Mansion. While we were on it, there was a delay (that happens), and a new voice was instructing us what to do with our “Doom Buggies”. There were some other changes (fewer “jump scares”), but it was certainly nostalgic to hear the legendary Paul Frees doing the regular narration.

One thing that has improved: more healthy food options. We bought Vegetarian Disneyland – How To Find Great Vegetarian Food at Disneyland before we went, and that did help us find some  tofu. 🙂 We still ate most of our food in the hotel room, but it was good to be able to get something in the middle of the day.

We went to Cars Land: that one was all new to us. It’s actually in Disney California Adventure (DCA to fans).

I had deliberately not read up on the new rides before we went (I like to be surprised), and there was one there that was quite a surprise. It was Luigi’s Flying Tires, and it was very much like the old Flying Saucers ride at Disneyland (although considerably improved).

What happens is that the ride is like a giant air hockey table. You get in a tire (in the old ride, it was a flying saucer), and then airjets blow up out of the ground, making you hover. You can make the tire move in different directions by leaning (two of you are in one tire, typically, so you have to work together). It is also like (gentle) bumper cars…you can careen into other people.

I had read a great article years back about the physics of why the flying saucer ride kept failing: apparently, when visitors bounced up and down at a certain rate, it caused the jets to shut off…and it took some time to power them up again. No problem like that here. We would definitely do that one again…and I think you’d improve over time.

Another major ride there was Radiator Springs Racers. This one was clearly a next generation ride, with a lot of sophistication to it. It’s a bit like Splash Mountain, in the sense that there is a “dark ride” section (where you pass by scenes while you are inside a building), and then a thrill ride part. The movement was a lot of fun: it was not only fast, it was smooth. The cars were like slot cars…you weren’t riding on a track with two rails, but there was a track directly in the middle.

The line was very cleverly designed, weaving you in and out of shelters, and even having the equivalent of rock climbing walls (the “rocks” were bottles in cement) to entertain the kids. That was a good thing, though…I’m sure we were in line for over an hour. When we got out, the “stand by” wait time (that’s for regular riders, not people using Fastpass) was listed as 90 (!) minutes.

It was a great ride, and benefited from a newer technology they are using to make the audi0-animatronic type figures more realistic…using screens to project their eyes (that’s the same thing that they do with the Mr. Potato Head barker outside the Toy Story shooting gallery ride…which is also a lot of fun).

The other new ride we did was Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! in Hollywood Land in DCA. It was a more traditional dark ride…slow moving vehicle going past scenes. It was nice.

The one other big new thing for us was the World of Color. This was a spectacular show, with colored fountains. They projected images onto the water, which was very effective. They used fire jets, and they were hot! I uncomfortably felt the heat from probably fifty yards away.

That was one of the few things where they really need to make some improvements, though. We had a Fastpass for it, but still had to wait on an uncomfortable hard surface for about an hour. It was clear that many people were uncomfortable sitting there, and we were quite crowded. Then, we had to stand up for the show for an hour…still on that hard surface. If you were short, it was definitely hard to see a lot of the show…that was a problem for some kids and shorter adults. I’m sure they’ll figure something out for that eventually…even if they had railings come up out of the floor so you could lean it would be a lot better.

Overall, for us, it was still The Magic Kingdom…the Happiest Place on Earth. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.


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