All of the Disney parks are currently closed worldwide, meaning we’re ALL itching to get our Disney fix in from home.
But, even though Disney has shared a ton of content from the parks, there’s a seemingly obvious move that we wonder why Disney hasn’t made!
What ISN’T Disney Doing? VIRTUAL REALITY!
What the heck Disney?? This is a burning question in our minds! With guests locked out of all of the parks worldwide, why hasn’t Disney released virtual reality ride-throughs of its attractions?
What Do We Mean By Virtual Reality?
The future is now! It might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but virtual reality technology has come a long way in recent years. Virtual reality (or “VR”) uses computer technology to create a simulated full 360 degree environment that puts the user inside the experience. So, the user can interact with the VR environment — just like you’re actually there! The Void at Disney Springs and Downtown Disney is a great example of how this technology can be used.
But you don’t need a specialty entertainment venue to experience VR! You can buy a VR headset for at-home use (and MANY consumers are!).
Check out these 5 hidden things you didn’t know you could do in Disney World (but you definitely should)!
VR is More Common Than You Might Think!
Speaking of a VR headset you can buy for your home, enter the Oculus Quest. There are multiple options out there for users at a variety of price-points, but the Oculus Quest is quickly becoming the most popular. This all-in-one VR headset was released in May 2019, and has been a hot commodity ever since! In fact, they’ve been hard to procure since the release and they’re currently sold out at all major retailers across the country, so clearly there’s a strong interest in home VR.
In other words, VR isn’t just a novelty for a small group of people. It’s popular enough to earn some MAJOR attention, especially from a company as large as Disney.
Disney Is No Stranger To VR
In addition to the demand for VR content, here’s another reason we’re especially confused about Disney’s lack of action here — Disney has a history of creating VR attractions. We’ve already referenced The Void in Disney Springs and Downtown Disney. But there’s another huge project that also comes to mind — DisneyQuest.
The original DisneyQuest location was opened at Walt Disney World in what was then known as Downtown Disney (now, Disney Springs). It occupied that space that now houses the NBA Experience.
DisneyQuest was billed as an “indoor interactive theme park,” and it contained some of Disney’s earliest VR projects. Many of the experiences were VR games based on popular Disney attractions and characters like Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride, and Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlaster.
DisneyQuest was permanently closed in 2017, but the technology developed for attractions here would provide ground-work for VR content meant to be enjoyed at home.
If Disney started offering at-home VR experiences, it would eliminate one of the problems faced by DisneyQuest as stated by Polygon — the cost of maintaining the VR equipment wouldn’t fall to Disney.
Is Disney Just Slow to Get Started?
VR park experiences have been on Disney’s radar for years. In a 2015 interview with Venture Beat, Disney Imagineer Bei Yang said that Disney was in the process of showcasing its parks in head-mounted VR displays (like the Oculus mentioned above). But five years later, we still haven’t seen anything come of this. So, what happened?
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve seen Disney be slow to adopt a popular new technology! For example, let’s look at Google Street View. The earliest version of Google Street View was launched in 2007, and for years guests had asked Disney to add the parks to the maps so they could take a virtual visit. But Disney was slow on the uptake here, as they didn’t add 360-degree panoramas of the parks until 2018.
When the images were finally added, it was a huge hit with guests! They raved about the ability to navigate through the parks and search for Easter eggs (like all the awesome hidden Pixar references in Toy Story Land!). So, is Disney just lagging behind the VR-times, like they did with Google Street View?
Check out our suggestions for what to watch on Disney+ if you want to feel like you’re in the parks!
What Would It Take to Make It Happen?
This is by no means an impossible task. In fact, there are a number of guests who have recorded their own 360-degree versions of ride-throughs. But there are no official versions of ride-throughs from Disney available.
Basically, it’s as easy as mounting a 360 camera rig and riding the attraction! The camera captures the footage and stitches the image together, creating the full 360-degree video. It pretty much just comes down to getting the right equipment and pressing play! In other words, this could be done in a very short timeframe!
With how easy the footage would be to capture, Disney could do this for all of the parks, including the international locations! Think about how cool it would be to have a library of ride content to look back on once an attraction is closed! Or a chance to experience rides in parks across the globe!
What Could a Disney VR Release Look Like?
There are a few routes Disney could take to release this content. They could opt to post the videos on their YouTube channel, as they have with previous content. Or, if they wanted to monetize the ride-throughs, Disney could create a paid service to house the videos.
By creating a paid service, Disney could also turn this into a true “park experience,” by allowing people to buy a one-day pass, or a multi-day deal to get access for a longer period. They could even allow Annual Passholders free or discounted access, to further incentivize guests retaining an Annual Pass. This would allow Disney to rely less heavily on in-park traffic for revenue, especially during this time.
What IS Disney Doing?
It’s not like Disney has totally left us out to dry! In fact, they HAVE shared a few ride-throughs of popular Disney Park rides. They’re not full 360 videos, but they are still fun to watch along with all the other fun content they’ve been sharing. We’re glad that Disney has been sharing a ton of great stuff for us to watch while we’re stuck at home. Here are a few of the highlights!
Ride & Learn Attraction Ride-Throughs
Disney recently shared 2 ride-throughs of beloved attractions. These are called “Ride & Learn” videos because they share fun facts about the rides throughout the videos. So far Disney shared with us a ride-through of the Incredicoaster in Disney California Adventure and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom.
These are closer than we’ve previously seen to what we’re looking for with 360-degree ride-throughs, but it doesn’t really put you IN the action of riding these rides. They’re still really fun to watch!
Performances By Disney Celebrities
We’ve been lucky enough to experience live performances from Disney celebrities! This includes both “in-park” favorites like Yehaa Bob Jackson and the Dapper Dans as well as on-screen celebs like Jeff Goldblum and Daisy Ridley.
These performances have given us a mini-escape, and brightened our days!
Releases on Disney+
Another way we’ve been passing the time is with endless Disney+ marathons! And Disney has even released two major movies on the streaming platform EARLY! They released Frozen 2 on March 14th and Onward on April 3rd. These two releases were both ahead of schedule, which made for an awesome surprise for families stuck home!
Check-In With Your Favorite Animal Kingdom Residents
Disney also provided some much-needed relief for those of us having Animal Kingdom withdrawals! They released Disney Animals, a series of short educational (and adorable!) videos that both kids and adults can enjoy!
And you won’t even need Disney+ for this one — the series is available FOR FREE on Disney NOW!
But even though Disney is spending a lot of time producing at-home experiences for potential guests, there’s still no substantive VR. With how easy it would be for Disney to implement an in-park VR experience, it’s hard to see why they haven’t jumped on this opportunity. It would allow guests to bring some of the magic of a Disney park home with them and would create an even stronger connection with Disney fans. Plus, they have the opportunity to monetize the content if they choose! C’mon Disney, we’re keeping our fingers crossed!
Would you like to see VR ride-throughs from Disney? Let us know in the comments!