Disney parks have always understood technology as a tool to tell a story. From Walt’s Tiki Birds to the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, technology is treated as a way to do something, not as an end in itself. That attitude is what allows Disney to focus on flexibility and to use technology as a means of creating a constantly improving experience for its guests.
When the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland installed digital projectors around iconic structures – Cinderella Castle in Florida and It’s a Small World in Califorinia – many were initially skeptical. Projections on Cinderella Castle had been a long standing part of the fireworks shows, but they were a small part. The new technology, however, brought an entirely new definition of “projection” to the parks, and “The Magic, the Memories, and You” became an important part of the nightly entertainment slate.
The new digital projection show not only showcased technology with stunning visual effects that allowed viewers to see things that were, logically, impossible (like the bricks in Cinderella Castle rippling as if alive) it also served a purpose – it made Disney entertainment more personal. Seamlessly integrated into the stunning visuals were personal moments, pictures of guests that celebrated the personal mission of the Disney parks. Those who have seen the show know that in the rich flow of imagery and animation, those individual images often fly by too quickly to discern details, but their purpose remains – they share the message that Disney is, for all its size and corporate power, still trying to be about people.
The wonder of that new technology went further than the integration of photographs or the production of stellar effects; it promised the opportunity for constant upgrading and flexibility through the wonder of technology. With the projectors set in place and the 3-D image of the castle over which images could be laid, show creators could constantly add new segments to the existing show. They did exactly that during the holidays when gingerbread and peppermint took over the castle and It’s a Small World, and Disney will be introducing another holiday-themed segment for Valentine’s Day.
The new segment will focus on Disney’s fairy tale films, with a special nod to Tangled, its newest animated feature. During the new projection, climbing roses will cover the castle and stained glass windows representing classic films such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast will appear. Animators will also be integrating the memorable lantern scene from Tangled, with the King and Queen appearing in Cinderella Castle’s central window to release the iconic lantern honoring their lost daughter, an image that will yield to the beautiful images of the lantern release from the film.
The new sequence will appear from Wednesday February 1 through April when, once again using the technology to give guests an ever-changing set of experiences, a new summer-themed segment will be introduced, turning the classic structures into sand castles.
Will you get to see the new segment? Have you seen the show? Is it a worthy addition to the park’s night time lineup? Do you like the way that the technology can be changed to fit the season, or do you prefer to know what’s coming and rely on classics like Wishes?