Get ready for Walt Disney drones at a park near you

Walt Disney Imagineering team files new patents for drone use

Disney Drone

If you’ve ever been to a Walt Disney park to see a light show, parade or a festival, you know they generally do it right. It’s mesmerizing. In fact, recently on a trip to Disney we saw a light show of animation and colorful video displayed right on the side of the Disney Castle. Add some amazing music and blasts of fireworks – you’re bound to leave satisfied and with a smile on your face. But now it seems Walt Disney Company’s inventors want to step up their game a bit. Enter the Walt Disney Drones.

That’s right, a new, recent patent by the company’s inventors dub the plan: ‘air delivery special effects that seeks to use ‘flight mechanism that propels a discharge platform through the air. The discharge platform also comprises of storage apparatus that stores a special effect devices such as pyrotechnics, confetti and smoke charges.”

Christmas light show at Walt Disney World (via FullDrone)

In layman’s terms – send a drone up and make it do cool stuff.

Here is how Disney explains the plan:

“Typical aerial firework launch systems take up a significant area such that fewer audience members can be included in a show and audience members are positioned at locations that may limit sight lines and the like in a way that limits the excitement of the audience members. A special effects delivery configuration is needed to deliver special effects in a manner that is safe for audience members of an entertainment experience, but also close enough to provide great sight lines and excitement for audience members.”

With these recent patent applications, Walt Disney Imagineering is creating a plan for night-time entertainment to take place over lagoons (which are specifically mentioned in the applications), although the technology can be applied virtually anywhere.

Disney Drone

Current entertainment can be limiting

As we mentioned, ‘Fantasmic!’ at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as Disney California Adventure’s ‘World of Color’ all use fountains to project virtual screens upon which images are projected. That’s great to watch, but as the producers of the show, it can be limiting. You can only project light so far. And you can’t update the production quickly. And with fireworks, comes inconsistencies without razor-sharp results.

Lights illuminating on the castle can do virtually anything, including make ice crystals magically form (Image:
Lights illuminating on the castle can do virtually anything, including make ice crystals magically form (Image:

So what Disney wants to do is used ‘flixels’ or floating pixels. They want to have an army of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to each carry what they mention above or even a projection screen or light diffuser. They could be set to autonomously work together to create a flowing, complete, razor sharp production that needs the push of a button to roll out.

But wait! There’s more!

Other patents filed for the Disney drones

In other patent applications, Disney points to items like this massive Jack Skellington puppet. Disney seems to believe with a few drones, you can make jumbo marionette puppets that streak through the park. We don’t know if that’s pure amazing, or downright terrifying. Imagine walking through the park on Halloween and seeing this thing screaming at you 20-times the size of a human.

Run. Like. Hell.

Disney Drone

But really, the opportunities with drones are endless. Bravo to Disney for taking the next steps and grabbing onto the drone niche while it’s hot.

Patents published by the Imagineering team

Here are the three published applications:

  • Aerial Display System with Floating Pixels
  • Aerial Display System with Floating Projection Screens
  • Aerial Display System with Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices
  • All three filed by Clifford Wong, James Alexander Stark and Robert Scott Trowbridge.

What do you think of this story? Think Disney is on to something? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.