The Disney theme parks tend to stay on the cutting edge of technology in more ways than one.
Sure, we’re always keeping up with Disney patents for their latest innovations and we’ve experienced some of the CRAZIEST tech firsthand like on Disney World’s Rise of the Resistance. But that tech does need a defining thread to keep moving forward and Imagineers find that thread in the Disney Theme Park Metaverse.
In a segment titled “Digital + Physical + Data + Story = Theme Park Metaverse” during the IAAPA Expo, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Digital and Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President Tilak Mandadi spoke about the concept of the Disney Metaverse. But…what exactly is it?
The official definition of The Disney Theme Park Metaverse is: “A shared magical world, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space.” Or, as Mandadi puts it, “converged experiences” created through the combination of technological and physical experiences.
We see much of the Metaverse existing in the theme parks already. The way that guests interact with the Play Disney Parks app is a great example. The location services aspect of this app lets guests explore the park in a physical way while enhancing the experience (making it more fun!) with technology.
But the Play Disney Parks app is only the beginning for the Metaverse. In fact, this concept is a major driver in evolving storytelling as innovation progresses. Mandadi noted that the Disney parks started with linear storytelling (like you’d see at The Enchanted Tiki Room), then moved to interactive storytelling (like you’d see on Toy Story Mania).
The current phase of innovation has enabled immersive storytelling (we see it in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge), and Mandadi explains that the next level, PERSONALIZED storytelling, is just on the horizon. Personalized storytelling will be seen in the Galactic Starcruiser, the Star Wars hotel, as guests come together to experience personalized and social storytelling.
As the Metaverse grows into itself, we can expect to see it as a part of the guest experience for years to come. Mandadi said that the experiences created as a part of the Metaverse will be able to stand alone as attractions soon.
Some examples of what this could look like include the potential for artificially intelligent virtual characters to interact with guests as personalized interactions — providing the same experience we might see at Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor or Turtle Talk with Crush on a MUCH more personal level.
Plus, Mandadi went on to discuss the Windows to the Wild program that is currently in development. This program will let guests experience animal interactions like those that are popular in Animal Kingdom through augmented reality.
So what the Metaverse gives us are experiences that are physical and digital converged, perennial, personalized and social, in-park and beyond-the-berm, and fresh and evolving. Whether we’re experiencing the Metaverse in the parks or at home, Mandadi notes this path allows the technology to always enhance and experience without being in the way.
We’re dissecting everything we learned from the IAAPA Expo this morning so keep an eye on DFB for all the latest news and information!
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What do you think of the metaverse? Are you excited about the future of the parks? Tell us in the comments!