Imagine that -- as you walked through a Disney theme park -- you could carry with you a wireless device that would:
Better yet, what if you could in-put a "wish list" of your favorite rides & shows into this hand-held unit, and it could then tell you the most time-efficient way to experience all of those attractions? Wouldn't that be amazing?
You wanna hear something that's even more amazing? Starting today and the next 10 days, the Imagineers will actually be field testing a device like the one I just described at Walt Disney World. Known as the "Disney Magic Connection," WDI R & D hopes that this hand-held, wireless unit (which runs on a Nintendo DS ) will be the next big technological breakthrough at the Disney theme parks.
As to how these field tests will be conducted ... As I understand it, each day, 60 families who are visiting the Magic Kingdom will be recruited to take part in this pilot program. Those who accept WDI's invitation will be then be able to use the "Disney Magic Connection" unit during the entire time that they're in that theme park (Provided -- of course -- that they're willing to put a credit card deposit down on this device. Which would then result in a $300 charge should they not return this hand-held unit before exiting that theme park).
As to what else the "Disney Magic Connection" can do, I'm told that this wireless device (Which -- according to the literature that I've been shown -- is designed to help " ... Guests make the most of their visit to the Park") will feature:
Copyright 2007 Disney. All Rights Reserved
This "Disney Magic Connection" unit will also reportedly have a feature that will tell guests where their favorite characters are in the park in real time. In addition, this wireless, hand-held device will be able to tell which queue you're standing in at that precise moment. So that it can then offer you the opportunity to play a game that's themed to that particular ride, show or attraction. Or just offer you some ride-specific trivia to read while you wait in that line.
If some of the features included on this Nintendo DS are starting to sound familiar ... Well, there's a reason for that. "Disney Magic Connection" actually builds on a lot of the lessons that WDI learned when they sent "My Pal Mickey" into the parks back in May of 2003.
Speaking of lessons ... The Imagineers hope to learn an awful lot from the over 600 families that they plan on recruiting for this "Disney Magic Connection" field test. Which is why -- as they return these hand-held, wireless units to Town Square Exposition Hall each night -- these WDW guests will be asked to take part in a brief survey which will discuss what they liked (More importantly, what they didn't like) about this device.
Should this test go well ... Well, from what my sources in Glendale tell me, a full-blown version of "Disney Magic Connection" could be up and running at the WDW Resort by the Spring of 2009. And then things get really interesting, as the guests visiting the Florida parks effectively get divided into two classes: The haves (i.e. Those who are armed with up-to-the-minute info thanks to this amazing wireless device) and the have-nots (i.e. Those who couldn't afford "Disney Magic Connection" and thus have to rely on old fashioned information sources like guidemaps and tip boards).
So what do you folks think? Are you aching to head out to the Magic Kingdom right now with the hope that you and your family will then be recruited for the "Disney Magic Connection" field test? Or are you one of those types who actually goes to the theme parks because you want to get away from Crackberry-like hand-held devices?
On the one hand, I can see the advantages this would have for people.
On the other hand, it just seems like another way for Disney to herd people wherever they want them to be.
In either case, I won't be using one.
I took part in a laptop survey at Epcot at about the time Pal Mickey was released. As I recall, my answers generally questioned the usefulness of such a device. (They handed me an envelope with two crisp $10s for my troubles.) One problem with the Mickey was it didn't work everywhere, only near certain sites and it wasn't interactive -- a problem that was echoed at that time with cell phones -- because of all the steel in the buildings, cell phones often didn't work inside or behind the structures (maybe that's a good thing.) Antenna coverage has since improved.
Perhaps they could just spot dozens of hardwired terminals around the parks for those who must be interconnected and leave the frequency spectrum uncluttered.
(Another occasional complaint was that folks who put their annual passes in the same fanny pack or pocket with their cell phones sometimes had the data erased from their APs -- but that's another topic.)
Wescot> As someone who primarily plays DS on longer car rides and flights, I've never run out of battery before charging at night. But to go around with it on during a park visit, yeah, I do have concerns on the battery there. Mostly because I use it during the tour bus ride to and from the Anaheim park.
buttermaker: "What's wrong with being bored sometimes??"
buttermaker: "Is all of this information making people smarter?"
bonk!: do you mean the information presented in this article?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
pickstar: "Maybe they can send one to the jackass I had to sit behind at Candlelight Processional this year who literally spent the ENTIRE SHOW texting on his Treo."
bonk!: nice use of sarcasm, but your sentiment is in league with that of a Luddite.
pickstar: "I'm sure it will be great standing in the dark, dank Pirates queue only to have the illusion shattered by 18 morons standing around me trying to figure out how long the wait time is in Aladdin's Magic Carpets."
bonk!: just one dude with b.o. can spoil the illusion today. no technology required.
mayerobeyer: "I'd be more impressed with this if Universal wasn't already doing it."
bonk!: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, who knows that it fell?
wdwtitan24: "worse than DS's battery life? DS's life in water. One good 'splash mountain' trip and the device may be history..."
bonk!: introducing the official wdw water-resistant ds pouch!
Yes, bonk ... that's me ... a Luddite ... the guy who's been in IT leadership for the past decade ...
Being a Luddite and being opposed to people being freakin' rude are two completely different things. I fully support the use of technology in society ... when used with courtesy and respect for those around you. But then again, from the tone of your post, it would seem that the concepts of courtesy and respect are probably lost on you.
Although I have to say ... I am very impressed that someone with your obviously limited thought processes actually knows what the word Luddite means. Wikipedia is an amazing thing.
Social stratification has been invading all aspects of the entertainment industry for decades, and this new device is just another indication that the Disney bean-counters are still in control. There is absolutely no need for something like this Nintendo device, but the marketeers will have you all believe it's necessary, just as they got you all to believe that FastPass is the best thing ever.
Disney Magic Connection, FastPass... what next will they come up with to make us self-involved, impatient, greedy and spoiled baby-boomers happy?
I think it's a terrific idea, and especially if this device will do one specific thing - let folks know when a ride is down for repairs. Last summer I tried to ride on Everest TWICE - and both times it was down, which meant I took a long bus ride for nothing. And Everest is the only thing about AK I actually really like. So if the device could relieve guests of THAT aggravation, I'd gladly use it.
I'm confused... were the park maps not working out for people? Did Disney forbid bringing common sense into the parks?
I'm flabbergasted at this idea. As others have mentioned... all we need are more people walking around with their eyes glued to yet another portable device. Yes, let's give them something else to complain about when it doesn't work, or gives bad information, or they drop it, etc, etc,...
All you need to enjoy a day at Disney is:
3. Park Map
Until they make an electronic device that mutes loud and obnoxious people and turns off people's flashes in dark rides, count me anti-this thing!
That skips over ride closures, tips on lines, etc. Which, as gigglesock just said, is particularly helpful in WDW.
I would keep this to cell phones because they're more universal devices and I think they have the battery life for a whole day. I can't say for certain, since mine's always gets turned off when I'm on rides. Never heard a cell go off on one, but I wouldn't treat a DL attraction less than I would a movie.
I've gotta say I like the idea of Pal Mickey, although it was introduced years after my last WDW visit. But this technology is in its infancy. I really enjoy the navigation program Verizon cellphones have but I'm really looking forward to being able to just ask my Asimo for directions, weather, which rides are working, etc.
Excellent ! Fantastic ! Amazing !
It solves problems I don't have ! Where do I sign up?
If your case of a.d.d. is this bad, you probably won't get past all those long shiny tubes at the airport to actually make it to a Disney Park - Where Dreams Come True (registered).
Stupid. Just another way that you can ignore the person you're on your vacation with... or your family. Leave all your mundane real world devices at home people, and learn to have some fun!
The berm was designed around the park for a reason.
* Never has Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids sounded so potentially expensive.
* arrowyn: "Add "vacation guide" CMs to the resorts to help guests plan their activities before & during their stay. I know th. ere are concierges to book things for you, but this would be a person to help you decide where to go which days, what park to skip if you have to. Maybe a certain amount of time would be free and beyond that youd'd pay an hourly rate. That way you're giving guests personal interaction."
Most CM's are capable of doing that Arrowyn. Just last week I helped a guest choose between DAK and Hollywood Studios and suggested shows and restaurants to check out. But I DO love the idea! Imagine getting paid to do EVERYTHING so you can speak with authority as to what it's like... "Well I suggest the stone massage although shiatsu IS very nice..." AWESOME!
In other news...Jim Hill gets called out for his under researched, uninformed bit on the Russia "news" at Epcot by Screamscape...
A couple of comments:
I'm not sure how this jives with "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy". While I guess it goes okay with the world of tomorrow, I agree that having all these glowing screens popping up in Pirates or HM would distract from the fantasy that I am trying to enjoy. While I find my cell phone invaluable at Disney when my family of 6 splits up, I don't really feel the need to be any more connected than that.
Also, if this service ends up costing, I would definitely grow to hate it, just like I hate the Universal Express over at USF when they stopped making it available to everyone for free. The fact that it costs money to use their "fastpass" system just bugs me to no end. It ends up being cost prohibitive for larger families so we just get to stand in long lines and get annoyed watching the same people pass by in the express line multiple times. The Disney fastpass system is available to anyone in the park, and is quite effective if you use it wisely.
I'd hate to see Disney divide its guests into the have's and the have not's. If you have to rent a device from them, you've automatically excluded those who are doing Disney on a budget because it was all they could do to afford to get into the parks. Even if the service is available on cell phones, believe it or not, there are people out there who don't have them.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the entertainment world is the recent development of making extra content from a tv show (like Lost or Heroes) available to a select group of people (like people with Sprint or something like that).
I was a passholder at WDW for 3-4 years, and am planning on becoming one again this Spring. I know my way around the parks very well, and so a device like this really doesn't interest me in the first place. But even still, I obviously have issues with this idea.
I'm a little unclear on how this is going to work ... some folks seem to be under the impression that you'll have to have your own DS and then just get a cartridge to make this work, but Jim's story specifically mentions Disney giving you the DS for a $300 credit card deposit.
Is Disney going to make this available both ways? Rental and has just a cartridge? Or will it be one way or the other?