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Talking Mickey and the 'Next-Gen' project - the future of your Disney theme park experience

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Yesterday’s introduction of a talking Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom’s Town Square Theater marks a potentially game changing shift for character meet and greets at Walt Disney World.  As we saw in the video, this new technological magic lets Mickey engage in conversation with guests, listening, seeing, and responding to guest interactions.  Impressive as this is, Disney could be going much further with this, something that will truly make guest’s jaws drop.

How about if Mickey greeted you by name when you walked into Town Square Theater? Or asked how you enjoyed Space Mountain when you rode earlier in the day. Or even reminded you of your upcoming FASTPASS for Splash Mountain?  Walt Disney Imagineering has been hard at work for the last couple of years on designing and building an entire “Next-Gen” infrastructure around Walt Disney World.  Tied into nearly every aspect of the park and resort experience, the rumored $2 billion technological powerhouse will give Disney the ability to manage and track guests experience to the tiniest detail.  By means of Radio Frequency ID bracelets and various web and smartphone applications, individual guests can be identified and located by the system, allowing things such as ticketless park entry, ticketless FASTPASS, cash and credit card-less payments, and coming right back to Mickey and his interactive appearance yesterday - personalized attractions.

With the RFID system, a guest entering an attraction could be identified, and their entire trip profile accessed to personalize that experience.  For example, Mickey at Town Square Theater could know that it’s your birthday, what your name is, and where you are staying.  Imagine how personalized these experiences could become.  It doesn’t stop with meet and greets though.  We’ve seen over the past few years that more and more interactive queues are being integrated into attractions, such as Winnie the Pooh and the Haunted Mansion. These queues are packed with interactive elements that could be tied into the Next-Gen system to allow the attraction to interact with you on a personal level.  It isn’t hard to believe that these levels of interaction will also move from the queue to the actual attraction show, with personalization of the experience flowing all the way from the queue to the ride itself.  Disney currently have plenty of attractions in the works that could be designed from the ground up to be part of this, including elements of the new Fantasyland, and the recently announced AVATAR-land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

It seems we are on the verge of attraction experiences being taken to new levels, in ways that could not have been envisioned even a few years ago. Disney is not aiming to win the theme park wars with the fastest or highest, but by separating themselves from the competition with immersive personalized experiences that can only be found at Disney.

More on the Next-Gen Project
- Jim MacPhee takes on new role of 'Vice President, Next Generation Experience and Walt Disney World Parks'
- Recent Disney guest survey hints at possible first use of Next-Gen technologies
- Tom Staggs – (Chairman, Parks and Resorts) updates investors on Fantasyland expansion and 'NextGen' experiences coming to Walt Disney World


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