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When was the last Imagineer "break-through?"

docandsix

Active Member
Original Poster
For consideration of everyone, but especially those close to the parks' histories and the industry's inside secrets, I offer this question. What I'm asking specifically is when Disney last rolled out cutting edge technology and led the field in creating a new attraction, rather than simply following someone else's (e.g., Universal's) example in responding with similar attraction using comparable engineering.

I'm no expert in the history or the mechanics, but it seems to me, for instance, that "Expedition Everest" amounted to a sort of recapitulation of "Revenge of the Mummy," in terms of ride type and design.

So what was the last, huge, Imagineering break-through?

Was it "Mission: Space" or "Soarin'?" Or do we have to go further back to the EMV? Do the "living characters" count, or were they also done first somewhere else? What about "Toy Story Mania" and its technology?

And finally, and this is perhaps what prompted my question in the first place, what's on the horizon in terms of creating a never-before-imagined theme park experience?
 

ChrisFL

Premium Member
I'd say the local positioning system in TDL and TDS rides. For the states, I'd say the living character initiative has brought some good things and I'm looking forward to see how well it's used in the future.

I mean it's possible that we could eventually see an attraction where the living characters are all throughout a ride and change their "lines" every time you're on it...perhaps even changing the story of the ride as well.
 

jakeman

Well-Known Member
I'd say the local positioning system in TDL and TDS rides. For the states, I'd say the living character initiative has brought some good things and I'm looking forward to see how well it's used in the future.

I mean it's possible that we could eventually see an attraction where the living characters are all throughout a ride and change their "lines" every time you're on it...perhaps even changing the story of the ride as well.
Agreed, for all the complaining around here about screen based attractions, the living character initiative on a whole seems to be a huge breakthrough in character interactivity.
 

marni1971

WDW History nut
Premium Member
As much as we knock WDI for what they`ve turned out over the past years (they only work to a budget afterall) when you look at the bigger picture they still rank up there with the best. The competition may be closer than in the past, and in some cases overtaken by them, and as discussed elsewhere a lot of work is outsourced, but there are quite a lot of innovations WDI should be proud of.

Attraction wise, for me, I`d list Animatronics compliance (limb movement that counteracts the force it creates on the torso) the EMV ride system (Indys and Dinosaur) and the ride vehicles/systems of Test Track, Poohs Honey Hunt and Orlandos Autonomous Guided Vehicle from the ToT.

Hmmm.... they are a decade or so old.... I can`t class Soarin' as technically amazing - Omnimax's used to be on the other side of the park in 1983 and the ride system, despite what Discovery Specials and Mouse PR try to tell us, isn`t stunning. Yes, clever. A leader? No.

Everest is nothing special overall - a stunningly themed normal coaster that does nothing new. However, the inride track switching is very clever, and the quiet high speed lifts are a great innovation. As for the Yeti - once they can keep him in A Mode I`ll let you know :(

For me, it`s the little things that keeps WDI ahead of the game right now. The new audio system in the Haunted Mansion. The syncronisation of HKDLs Disney in the Stars show to the musical score (it makes RoE seem hours out of time). The proof the CircleVision*360 format is very much alive and so well executed in Reflections of China. The fact 20 bucket-loads of computers and associated tech can withstand a sustained 3.5g - and the parallax more-than-2D-but-not-actually-3D vision system that spins with it. The so simple but so safe and cleverly designed system in the last 3 ToTs for moving what is a dumb ride vehicle into and out of the VVC. The ride polling system in SSE to Project Tomorrow and the data processing and transmission. This is perhaps more a sign of affordable computing power, but WDI used it as a means to an end. The same with TSM - having each car run its own game, irrespective of other cars, and the graphics processing needed in real time for each car, all of the time. And if the R&D works out the on board Space Mountain audio system that erradicates all the flaws of the Soundtracker system.
 

tigfan

New Member
Everest is nothing special overall - a stunningly themed normal coaster that does nothing new. However, the inride track switching is very clever, and the quiet high speed lifts are a great innovation. As for the Yeti - once they can keep him in A Mode I`ll let you know :(

I actually wouldn't even go so far as to describe Everest as "stunningly themed". I think it's a somewhat overrated attraction on almost every level...The coaster is nothing spectacular, the "theming" is actually pretty sparse when you think about (really, how much is there truly to look at on this ride?), and even the yeti is not really what people make it out to be.
 

ChrisFL

Premium Member
I actually wouldn't even go so far as to describe Everest as "stunningly themed". I think it's a somewhat overrated attraction on almost every level...The coaster is nothing spectacular, the "theming" is actually pretty sparse when you think about (really, how much is there truly to look at on this ride?), and even the yeti is not really what people make it out to be.

Well actually EE's theme extends waaay before the ride itself, from the queue, or even before then. I don't see any real lack in theming (except for the bird on a stick) on the ride itself
 

yankspy

Well-Known Member
I was thinking about Lucky the dinosaur. I have never seen him in person but he seems to be an extremely innovative AA. I am not sure if you would consider that a breakthrough. Anyone ever seen him?
 

Rob562

Well-Known Member
Everest is nothing special overall - a stunningly themed normal coaster that does nothing new. However, the inride track switching is very clever, and the quiet high speed lifts are a great innovation. As for the Yeti - once they can keep him in A Mode I`ll let you know :(

Actually, the silent lifthill and in-track switch were Vekoma innovations from over a decade ago, though at least in the track switch's case, this is a new application for it. (And to those who don't know, Vekoma was the manufacturer of the Everest ride track)

I believe the silent lifthill technology is similar (if not the same) as what Vekoma uses for their SLC coasters. Intamin has also come out with its own version of the silent lifthill anti-rollback.

As for the rotating in-line switch-track, the switch between the main track and the storage track on a Vekoma SLC uses a similar rotating piece of track. Though that's only used rather infrequently to remove or add a train. EE was the first installation (that I know of) that uses the track switch on a continuous basis that probably required a lot of additional engineering and computer programming. (My guess is that Disney came to them, said "We need the track to switch FAST", and Vekoma looked at the track switches they already used and improved the existing design.

-Rob
 

Fun2BFree

Active Member
I actually wouldn't even go so far as to describe Everest as "stunningly themed". I think it's a somewhat overrated attraction on almost every level...The coaster is nothing spectacular, the "theming" is actually pretty sparse when you think about (really, how much is there truly to look at on this ride?), and even the yeti is not really what people make it out to be.

I would say it's stunning theming to construct a huge near-200ft mountain around a coaster, and do it so well. Unlike the first version of the Matterhorn, every foot you travel in the mountain is covered in rock and other thematic elements. It amazes me how Disney built something like this in so short a time-span. :D
 

lilclerk

Well-Known Member
I would say it's stunning theming to construct a huge near-200ft mountain around a coaster, and do it so well. Unlike the first version of the Matterhorn, every foot you travel in the mountain is covered in rock and other thematic elements. It amazes me how Disney built something like this in so short a time-span. :D

Nevermind just the mountain, outside of the attraction and the queue are both amazing.
 

Philo

Well-Known Member
Tricky...

I could never class Soarin' as a break through. Whilst I enjoy the ride I cant get over the fact that it just isn't all that immersive. The distortion on the screen is a real spoiler for this effect and a little part of me hates that the scene changes are nothing more that a straight forward cut.

EE is a great ride with a nice trick but again, not really cutting edge.

Mission: Space - probably more innovative than the others but still not cutting edge
 

fyn

Member
IMO, Alien Encounter was the last awesomely innovative WDI attraction. If this exists elsewhere (or did before Disney did it), please correct me.
 

EpcotServo

Well-Known Member
Midway Mania! As much as Everest is the best thing ever, it can still be compared to other rides simply because of the fact that it uses a Roller Coaster ride system.

But Midway Mania really can't be compared to any ride anywhere. I have a hard time explaining it to those people who always sit next to you and RIGHT before you start moving begin to question you non-stop...

Person: Have you been on this before?

Me: Yea, a few times.

Person: What's it like?

Me: Oh, It's great. You'll love it.

Person: Is it like Buzz at Magic Kingdom?

Me: Well...sort of, but not really.

Person: Oh, is it like Philharmagic?

Me: A little, but again...not totally.

Person: So it's a dark ride then.

Me: Oh, yes. But it's MUCH more than that. It's really alot of rides in one, and so much more. It's really great.

Person: Sounds great.

Me: Actually it's over.

Person: What?

Me: You were talking to me the whole time, please exit to the right...

:lol:

It's true, it's really a ton-of-rides-in-one. And more!
:D
 

Chape19714

Well-Known Member
Midway Mania! As much as Everest is the best thing ever, it can still be compared to other rides simply because of the fact that it uses a Roller Coaster ride system.

But Midway Mania really can't be compared to any ride anywhere. I have a hard time explaining it to those people who always sit next to you and RIGHT before you start moving begin to question you non-stop...

Person: Have you been on this before?

Me: Yea, a few times.

Person: What's it like?

Me: Oh, It's great. You'll love it.

Person: Is it like Buzz at Magic Kingdom?

Me: Well...sort of, but not really.

Person: Oh, is it like Philharmagic?

Me: A little, but again...not totally.

Person: So it's a dark ride then.

Me: Oh, yes. But it's MUCH more than that. It's really alot of rides in one, and so much more. It's really great.

Person: Sounds great.

Me: Actually it's over.

Person: What?

Me: You were talking to me the whole time, please exit to the right...

:lol:

It's true, it's really a ton-of-rides-in-one. And more!
:D
Welcome to my life. :lol:

Toy Story Mania! is a break through on so many levels. It accelarates dark rides, 3D projections and special effects to a new level.
 

KZevchik

New Member
What's interesting about WDI is that they are not coming up with solutions to problems but rather problems to solutions. In a far away land somewhere 100 feet under the earth on the west coast, is a team of the smartest people in the world, just coming up with ideas. Once they come up with it and life test it, WDI then comes up with a way to utilize it in attractions. I can tell you for fact that this is how Laugh Floor/Talkin' Crush, the scrim fog in Pirates (that's not just mist), and RFID fireworks in the Magic Kingdom shows were all done. WDI basically says "Here's your monthly budget, come up with cool stuff", and they do. Look for some new concepts in stage costuming to allow instantaneous costume changes and some new smoke/fog developments.

This isn't to say that this is how all R&D is done, live AA is many years of research before it was released to us hounds.

Not only WDI, but the subs of WDI are coming up with some really neat ideas, your parade synchronization was not WDI but rather a subcontractor of theirs. A lot of developments in wireless technology are also on the scope.
 

fyn

Member
I can tell you for fact that this is how Laugh Floor/Talkin' Crush, the scrim fog in Pirates (that's not just mist), and RFID fireworks in the Magic Kingdom shows were all done.

I was under the impression that Laugh Floor was the winner of the ImagiNATIONS collegiate engineering competition a few years ago.
 

EpcotServo

Well-Known Member
I can tell you for fact that this is how Laugh Floor/Talkin' Crush, the scrim fog in Pirates (that's not just mist), and RFID fireworks in the Magic Kingdom shows were all done.

The "Waterfall" mist effect was actually devolped by a different company (They are able to be installed for parties and conventions and such)

I had their website but I forget what it was called...

And...I'm pretty sure there is no scrim involved, could you explain a little further?
:shrug:
 

ChrisFL

Premium Member
What's interesting about WDI is that they are not coming up with solutions to problems but rather problems to solutions. In a far away land somewhere 100 feet under the earth on the west coast, is a team of the smartest people in the world, just coming up with ideas. Once they come up with it and life test it, WDI then comes up with a way to utilize it in attractions. I can tell you for fact that this is how Laugh Floor/Talkin' Crush, the scrim fog in Pirates (that's not just mist), and RFID fireworks in the Magic Kingdom shows were all done. WDI basically says "Here's your monthly budget, come up with cool stuff", and they do. Look for some new concepts in stage costuming to allow instantaneous costume changes and some new smoke/fog developments.

This isn't to say that this is how all R&D is done, live AA is many years of research before it was released to us hounds.

Not only WDI, but the subs of WDI are coming up with some really neat ideas, your parade synchronization was not WDI but rather a subcontractor of theirs. A lot of developments in wireless technology are also on the scope.

It does seem like they're starting with new technology first, then seeing how to use in an attraction, instead of trying tell a story first, then finding the best technology in how to tell the story.
 

joel_maxwell

Permanent Resident of EPCOT
Does that include the holes and daylight leaks? The inside was such a let down (IMHO)
as far as everest goes... yes, those parts that you see through are a bit problematic for me and a let down... but to the average guest (sam) she didnt even notice it.
 

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