Recapping the 4 Big Disney Reveals at the 2018 IAAPA
The Walt Disney Company is only days away from their 90th anniversary celebration of Mickey Mouse. On this date, they’re expected to announce a few new takeaways about their upcoming theme park plans. Before that event, however, they had another doozy, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). At this event, Disney revealed three exciting new things about Disney theme parks while hinting at others. Here’s what we just learned.
The Future of Audio-Animatronics
Buddy Ebsen aka Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies may not be someone whom you associate with Disney, but he should be. For starters, he co-starred in Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett, the seminal 1950s mini-series whose popularity financially sustained Disneyland during its early days.
Ebsen played the sidekick in that program, and he befriended several early Imagineers. They admired the actor for his many attributes, one of which was dancing. I’ll quote this straight from Ebsen’s D23 page: “Buddy’s tap dancing moves also served as a prototype for Walt Disney’s earliest experiments in Audio-Animatronics® technology.”
Yes, Jed Clampett was the father of the Audio-Animatronic (AA).
Why am I mentioning this? During the 2018 IAAPA event, Bob Chapek, chairman of Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, discussed the future of AAs. Suffice to say that neither Ebsen nor Walt Disney would believe what’s in store for the technology.
Disney’s latest line is the A1000, and it’s capable of more than any AA ever before. In fact, Chapek stated that these animatronics will operate flawlessly for 20 years of uninterrupted service! That’s two decades wherein park officials don’t have to worry about serious maintenance.
For park visitors, the new AAs are revolutionary in a different way. According to Chapek, they’re “most lifelike, expressive and engaging animatronic yet.” It’s a remarkable boast given the detail and realism of the current titleholder as best AA, the Shaman of Songs on Na’Vi River Journey.
Chapek’s most tantalizing statement wasn’t about the A1000 model, though. He stated, “The one thing A1000s can’t do is fly through the air. We’ve been working on that too.” Is an AA drone in Disney’s near-future? The answer is apparently yes.
During the presentation, Disney boasted about a new invention , the Stuntronic. This is a specialized kind of AA, one capable of flight. Oddly, Chapek was reticent to reveal a lot about it. All he would verify is that these Stuntronics have the ability to flip in the air.
More importantly, they can also strike what is best described as a Superman Pose, arms outstretched as they fly through the air. Marvel fans should be salivating right now at the thought of this. I’ve just described the classic superhero action shot from comics and movies. Yes, the Stuntronic is feasibly a superhero Audio-Animatronic!
You’ll have to excuse MickeyBlog for taking a victory lap here, but we called something a while back that’s proven true. Chapek went into some detail about the Disney Skyliner, discussing all of the ways that this new transportation option will improve traffic congestion in the Walt Disney World area.
During these comments, the Disney executive confirmed what we have mentioned on several occasions. The Disney Skyliner will open next Fall, just in time for the opening of Star Wars Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Chapek stated, “Riding the Disney Skyliner system will provide guest a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World, with unique vistas only available from the sky.”
The chairman also excitedly revealed that the final support tower is already in place at Walt Disney World. All that’s left is to connect the support cables throughout the structures. Once that happens, the testing phase can begin. Disney has some of the gondola units ready. In fact, they have two of them on display at IAAPA right now! These units don’t have Disney theming yet, but they’re otherwise structurally ready for operation.
The Disney Skyliner is almost here!
A Roller Coaster Different from Any You’ve Ever Seen
We’ve known for a while that the former Universe of Energy pavilion space would host a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster. While there were some early questions about where the building would start and end, those are no longer in doubt. Guests at Epcot can’t help but notice the gigantic structure under construction in that area of the park.
During his IAAPA speech, Chapek provided an update and some exciting details about the upcoming roller coaster. One of the most impressive ones doesn’t have anything to do with the ride itself. To build it, Imagineers needed plenty of space. After all, Disney’s already promised it will be one of the longest indoor roller coasters ever. Due to this need, the Guardians of the Galaxy building is historically huge. Apparently, four different Spaceship Earths would fit inside it! I struggle to grasp how that’s even possible.
The other huge reveal about Guardians of the Galaxy involves its ride cart. Chapek brought video demonstrating the odd nature of this coaster. It won’t be like the ones you’ve ridden in the past. Those attractions highlight the sensation of twisting and turning at dramatic speeds. This ride will tell a story!
To facilitate this unusual move, a section of the coaster cart is capable of independent movement. The idea is akin to Primeval Whirl, only the movements won’t be erratic. To the contrary, the cart will rotate as appropriate to keep the viewer’s eyes focused on the storytelling elements. Chapek explicitly referred to Guardians of the Galaxy as “a storytelling coaster” due to its design.
Disney will program each cart so that it turns in time with the story. In this way, it’s akin to a dark ride in that ride cart will control the line of sight. The difference is the velocity. Most dark rides are slow by design. Guardians of the Galaxy will deliver the speed you’d expect from a Disney roller coaster. It will require an impressive feat of Imagineering to tell the story in a way that’s intelligible as a person experiences the dizzying sensations of a roller coaster.
Don’t worry, though! It’s not THAT much different from what Disney did with Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – BREAKOUT! If Disney can turn Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into an in-ride storytelling attraction, why can’t they do the same with a roller coaster?
Okay, that’s the four big items from IAAPA…but stay tuned! Disney’s got more up its collective sleeve in another few days!