by Robin Redon, Walt Disney Imagineering
At Walt Disney Imagineering Paris, embracing technology to transport Guests to the new worlds we create is key to keeping the magic alive in theme parks.
When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, it was the first of its kind in Europe. Today it remains Disney’s flagship brand in this region. It’s the home of princes and princesses, heroes and villains, Jedis and soon to be the Avengers. A day with Disney is to escape from everyday life and share magical moments with the people you love.
In the 30 years since, the world has changed in ways even the best Disney Imagineer could not have foreseen. Storytelling is an integral part of human nature and the experiences we create. We use technology to tell our stories better and also to tell better stories.
New Layers of Disney Storytelling
Beyond any ride or attraction, the role of theme parks now is to continue to find new ways to make most beloved characters and awesome worlds a reality, with guests at the center.
So we’re always looking for new, innovative ways to unlock new layers of Disney storytelling for our guests. It’s a welcome challenge that drives every engineer and designer forward: our raison d’être.
I will always remember after working on the opening of Star Wars: At the Edge of the Galaxy at the Disneyland Resort, I visited as a guest with a friend and her seven year old son. Seeing him fully immersed in the story that was evolving across the land, told through the characters and actors that populated the world was priceless. And it was so much more than going to attractions: it was about being in the story.
Today, the power of technology to shape and enhance reality enables new ways to connect and inspire customers. Walt Disney Imagineering Paris implements the latest digital technologies and capabilities to not only meet, but exceed customer expectations.
Campus Avengers at Disneyland Paris
In Avengers Campusit means we must inspire recruits to train with the Avengers and their allies to become the next generation of superheroes.
The opening of Avengers Campus is a proud moment for us. Earth represents the best of Imagineering and pushes the boundaries of technology and innovation. It includes several firsts for Disneyland Paris.
When developing Avengers Campus, Imagineers relied on core philosophies as the territory’s key themes: power, sharing, diversity, and teamwork. And just like the Avengers, the Imagineers have brought together a wide range of talent and expertise to create something inspiring. Using tools, technologies and techniques that bring extraordinary characters and experiences to life, we’ll put rookies in the heart of the action.
Innovative technology makes storytelling easier at Disney
For the new attraction, Spider-Man WEB Adventure, Imagineers has set up Technology this allows rookies to launch webs like Spider-Man, so they can experience what it’s like to have superpowers. The rookies team up with Spidey to fire virtual webs from their wrists using natural motions. There’s no need for wearable technology, other than 3D glasses.
The system that powers our Spider-Man WEB Adventure is very sophisticated. This involves machine learning that continuously refines our gesture recognition algorithm, so web-slinging is accurate and done in real time with interactive scenes in the attraction. Recruits can also customize their experience with additional powers using WEB Tech accessories – another first for Disneyland Paris.
The integration of history and technology is the hallmark of Imagineering. One of my favorite examples in Avengers Campus is Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence. FRIDAY It plays a central role in the running of the campus.
FRIDAY is the first virtual character to take center stage at Disneyland Paris; it was “downloaded” onto the facade of Avengers Assemble: Flight Force thanks to an innovative integrated lighting and sound system based on parametric 3D modelling. This is a first for the Disney Parks. It is also a rare example of this system on this scale in the entertainment industry worldwide.
New York to Paris
Avengers Campus is just one aspect of a multi-year expansion plan for Walt Disney Studios Park, with approximately $2 billion currently invested in products and experiences. Every detail, every technological choice must add to the story and, more importantly, keep the guests IN the story.
And it goes beyond the Parks. Disney Village and the Disneyland Hotel are also undergoing a transformation. We are reimagining Disney Village with a progressive approach. The result will be a fresh new dining and shopping environment for our customers. The Disneyland Hotel will be transformed into the kingdom of Disney princes and princesses, with rooms inspired by stories old and new, “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty” at “Entangled” and “Frozen.”
A tech upgrade also complements the sleek decor, from online check-in to in-room connectivity. Our goal is to transform the way our guests interact with our hotels and truly offer something for everyone.
Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel is a perfect example. The theme of a New York art gallery celebrating Marvel artwork creates an elegant, upscale hotel experience for all Marvel fans.
Meanwhile, as a New Yorker, my favorite place is the Skyline Bar with its spectacular view from a New York skyscraper. Imagineers worked with Marvel partners to deliver over 1.2 million images in 4K resolution. These are displayed on the nine 86-inch monitors to create a seamless view day or night. I feel like I’m back in New York – but this New York includes the Avengers!
Storytelling puts guests at the heart of every Disney experience
The success of Disneyland Paris over the past 30 years has undoubtedly been driven by our continued mission to put customers at the heart of every experience – from the thrilling 3D journey inside Star Tours: The Adventures Continue to train alongside Iron Man at the upcoming Avengers Campus.
When you bring together incredible, immersive spaces, characters and stories that only Disney can share with our guests, and cutting-edge technology and innovation, the possibilities are virtually endless.
A lot has changed since 1992. But one thing that will stay with us for the next thirty years and beyond is the commitment to put our customers at the heart of every experience, innovation and new idea. This is how we continue to make Disney magic happen.