Insider's Update: Look, up in the sky! It's the Disney drones!
Published: August 28, 2014 at 2:17 PM
First, if you're a Jungle Cruise fan, just stop what you're doing and watch this video right now:
It's Tokyo Disney's delightfully cheesy promo video for its Jungle Cruise reboot, which debuts Sept. 8.
The revamped version of the attraction will have new lighting effects and other special show effects. In addition, a specially written musical sound track will be heard throughout the attraction for the first time in any Jungle Cruise. Also, an after-dark only “night cruise” will provide a unique take on the jungle adventure.
A spruced-up Jungle Cruise isn't the only new Disney project capturing attention this week. Disney's Imagineers have filed three applications for patents for using aerial drones in its theme parks. No, it's not a new, high-tech way to shoot the hippos (as awesome as that might be). Disney's patent applications describe the use of drones to hold up floating characters, projection screens, and light displays. Here are links to the applications:
- Aerial display system with Marionettes articulated and supported by airborne devices
- Aerial display system with floating projection screens
- Aerial display system with floating pixels
Images from Disney' patent applications
For the "marionette," think of Universal's Macy's parade balloons, but instead of people carrying ropes to hold down helium-filled balloons, you'd have remote-controlled mini-helicopters holding up the giant characters. Same concept for the projection screens and light displays.
Theme parks have found a wide variety of surfaces upon which to project show images, from the clunky traditional screens used by Universal Orlando's Cinematic Spectacular, to the water screens used in Disney's Fantasmic! and World of Color, to projecting on the castles themselves in the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland for various nighttime shows. Disney's patent plan would give its parks additional flexibility, in allowing Disney to place temporary, moving projection screens anywhere in its parks. Not only that, by putting screens in the sky, Disney could position them to allow more viewers to see the screens without the expense of creating terraced viewing areas or dedicated show stadia.
Check out this patent application drawing for a drone-driven castle reveal!
More Disney news: The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Disney's Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World is celebrating its 40th birthday on Sept. 5. And Disneyland has a new mobile website that allows visitors to buy tickets and pay for parking, in addition to making restaurant reservations and checking park schedules. Finally, Disney's announced changes to the live entertainment line-up at Epcot's World Showcase, with Mo'Rockin', Off Kilter, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, and the World Showcase Players going away at the end of September, in favor of new acts.
Speaking of closures, the Flintstones Bar-B-Q is closing at Universal Studios Hollywood on Sept. 1, according to one report. If you've been in the park lately, you've seen The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rising behind the Flintstones' shack, and have known that the end was near.
Last item: As I suggested above, we've got some changes coming here at Theme Park Insider. I've been working on a site redesign, which we will be launching in early September. We're wrapping up template creation and testing now, and I think you'll like the new look we'll have soon. It retains our basic functionality, while freshening the overall look. Plus, we'll have a fun, new "Insiders" subscription option that will allow participants access to some new Insiders-only bonus features on the site, as well as to in-park events we'll be planning in the months to come. Keep reading!