It seems there’s no end to the surprises in store from Disney100!
Walter Elias Disney had one foot in the past and the other in the future. As evidenced by Disneyland, the man was heavily influenced by nostalgia but also had a great interest in pushing the boundaries of what people around him said could be done. Tomorrowland was, and is, a testament to that interest, and the entirety of Disney Parks stand as a fulfillment of Walt’s dedication of Tomorrowland when he said it was to be “…a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come.” This latest offering isn’t one step behind!
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Disney has really been pulling out all the stops for the Disney100 celebration. New characters, a new look for the monorail, and even a new attraction at Disneyland: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway! It’s only fitting: that little company that started in 1923 as Disney Brothers Studio has come a long way from its humble beginnings, but Walt was never content to let it stay as small as it started. He was always wanting to go further, do more, and break new ground!
He was an early adopter of the mixed media of using both animation and live-action, not just in Mary Poppins (1964), but decades earlier for the Alice Comedies. These shorts, very loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol, were just one example of Uncle Walt’s desire to do what was deemed by many to be impossible. From the very beginning, his career would be characterized by the concept of doing the impossible, even going so far as to say, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Which is just what he did! On top of building Disneyland, which by itself was deemed impossible, Walt didn’t stop innovating. Shortly after the opening of the Park, the Imagineers introduced audio-animatronics to the world, starting with Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. From there, the technology just got better and better, including the first human audio-animatronic, a lifelike figure of Abraham Lincoln for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. This next innovation is right in line with that first figure.
Journalist Scott Gustin reported on an article from the New York Times in which Disney revealed their next big step in making magic a reality. According to Gustin, Disney has created a life-like hologram of Walt Disney himself, using archival footage and AI tools that will speak with Walt’s voice to be part of the Disney100 exhibition. This is a huge leap forward, not only for Disney but for technology in general!
In true Disney fashion, while this may not be the first, this is sure to be the best of the available technology. Disney has utilized holograms before in attractions like Star Wars Rise of the Resistance and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, so it may well be that they use similar technology for this recreation of Walt. What is even more amazing, though, is the concept that they will be using AI to make the hologram speak in Walt’s voice, meaning that there’s a high possibility that Guests to the exhibit may be able to interact with him!
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Regardless of whether that is the case or not, the fact that they will be bringing Walt back to life in a manner of speaking is very much in line with what the original Imagineer would have wanted. It pushes the boundaries of technology, it’s jaw-dropping, and as Disney CEO Bob Iger put it in The Imagineering Story, people will definitely leave saying, “Wow, only Disney could do that, or asking how did Disney do that?” Currently, the Disney100 exhibit will only be running in Philadelphia, Munich, and London, but hopefully, they take a leaf out of Walt’s book and transfer some pieces from the exhibit to the Parks afterward!
What do you think about the Walt hologram? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!