Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Technology udpates at Walt Disney World

As a lover of Disney World and a lover of technology, I am always excited to see updates in unexpected ways at my favorite park.  Below are three items that impressed me, then a bit of a rant about what didn't meet the Disney criteria.  When writing this article and looking for references to the features on Disney’s website, I came up short.  I find it interesting that Disney doesn't promote these things more than they do.

Here is what impressed me:

Star Tours – this ride now offers 54 variations because the ‘show’ is in three sections, and the beginning has two options, the middle has three and the ending has three.  Put them all together to get 54, although we only had to ride 12 times to see each of the 8 videos.  The beauty of this is that more ‘options’ can be added creating a new experience every year or so.  I also liked that the ride featured a member of the audience as the ‘rebel spy’ by showing their ‘wanted’ picture to Darth Vader!

Fastpass+ – Disney is trying out a new fastpass+ system where you can choose what rides you want to ride online ahead of time.  This will save you from having to go to the ride to get a fastpass, which is really a teaser since rides like Arrowsmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster had a 90 minute wait when I was there, so there was no way I was going on without a fastpass, but I had to go all the way to the ride to get that fastpass, then leave.  The new fastpass+ card uses RFID technology, eliminating the paper slips that are used for each ride today. There is more information on the fastpass here.

Disney app – On the Magical Express bus ride from the airport to Disney, you will learn about the new Disney app showing maps, show times and park hours.  This app also shows ride wait times.  We had varied success with this, where it should not always be the same as the wait time listed on the ride, but it was usually in the ball park.  This was helpful when planning where to go once in the park.  One downside is that the wait times have to be ‘unlocked’ by entering the park, which means we couldn't look ahead on the bus or while in our room. 

Here is where I was disappointed:

Room Key - I really like that our room key is also our ticket to the parks, but it would be better if it was also our PhotoPass, Fastpass+ and Disney Attractions+ photo card too so we didn't have to carry all of those around.

Traffic flow - There were a ton of people on scooters at the parks!  I don’t mean any disrespect to people who need these, but loading them on and off the bus takes a long time, and it is problematic in some of the tighter walkways.  I saw a lot of kids riding them while the adults walked.

Beer - Disney is a family destination and therefore not known for its beer, but where there is beer, it was coors and bud. The BigRiver Grille Brewpub is good, but can't somebody make a good Disney Brown to have in the parks?

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