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Archive for March, 2010

Patent Pending

March 31, 2010 2 comments

I started my blog with the intent of providing a public forum in which I could publish and share my ideas and market my own inventions to the Disney community. However, that’s not to say that I won’t talk about other’s ideas, especially if they’re Disney-related.

As an inventor, I like to keep up with other inventors and inventions that have recently been patented. Occasionally I will see something that strikes my own creativity. Recently, while reading thru some patent news, I stumbled across a few interesting patents possibly relating to the parks that Disney has been granted.

Standalone flame simulator – March 30, 2010 – Patent: 7686471

This one isn’t all that significant as far as the parks and a noticeable impact on guests go, but I do find it interesting in that it’s a new, high tech approach on a theater lighting effect that’s been around for many many years. You’ve probably seen the old version of this where there is a colored light hidden out of sight with a fan blowing upward on some colored strips of fabric to simulate fire. It’s used quite a bit in a few scenes of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

Well, Disney has apparently figured out a way to improve on the old design. The new design they have patented, uses multiple LED bulbs in different colors plus smart programming to vary the intensity of the lights, plus the fabric as before and of course fans to blow the fabric. I haven’t see one outside of the drawings, but I would guess to say that it makes for a much more realistic effect since they’re using multiple colors in their design. I would also venture to guess that because it uses LED bulbs it’s going to use less energy to power and require less maintenance to change bulbs and the fabric due to heat scorching. Hopefully this will make it to the parks in the near future. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

07686471-007

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an operating standalone flame simulator of the present invention including an outer housing or shell and installed flame elements with the housing partially cutaway to show the fan, the chimney or air manifold, and the flame elements and the associated method of mounting;

Cable tow whip ride – March 30, 2010 –  Patent: 7685944

If you’re a theme park junky like me, you’ve probably seen the old “Whip” amusement park ride. If not, take a look at the video below.

The concept, and patent for this version debuted in 1914.

Disney appears to have improved on this concept in a way where the cars are able to be “whipped” both left and right in a less predictable manner than the original which pretty much just went around in an elongated circle.

Here’s how the patent describes it:

Briefly, embodiments of the present invention are directed to ride designs and systems for use in amusement parks and similar settings to provide an enhanced and unique whip ride experience. The conventional whip ride has remained unchanged over its long history, and, while popular for some park guests, the above-ground and one-sided attachment features have resulted in a ride in which only outside turns or curves are possible, which severely limits its design with most classic whip rides being a simple oval shaped course or path. In contrast, ride systems or whip rides of the invention provide a drive system that allows inside and outside curves for whip effects in both directions (e.g., a whip vehicle that may be spun or rotated clockwise and counterclockwise about a pivot point or pivotable attachment).

The interesting part of Disney’s design, is they use a familiar looking image in the sketch. 07685944-007

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the tractor in this image resembles the tractors from CARS. Judge for yourself.

Cars-tractor

Vehicle and track system for flying corner amusement park ridesMarch 16, 2010 –  Patent: 7677179

This one is a bit more complicated, but interesting. It’s a new concept for a flying turns/bobsled type of coaster. Basically the coaster car rides on a train and traditional styled tubular steel (assumed) track, but the train itself pivots left and right to simulate the motion of riding in a bobsled-like pipe. The sketch below shows an example, but it’s a little bit hard to make out what it does. If you look at item 750 in the drawing there is an arrow that rocks left and right.

Photo courtesy USPTO.govNow, is it just me, or does that train have a familiar look to it, or what? I know I’ve seen a train that looks like that somewhere in a Disney park.

MatterhornBobsled2000_wbMaybe it’s just me, but I think it looks a LOT like Disneyland’s bobsled train. But, wouldn’t that make sense? I mean, if you’re going to create a design for a new styled bobsled coaster train, wouldn’t you put it on the Matterhorn? So, could a new train design be in the works for Disneyland and this 51-year old rollercoaster?  This would add a whole other dimension and new experience for this classic Grandfather of the modern steel rollercoaster.

Here’s some more details on the drawing.

FIG. 7 illustrates another embodiment of a track and vehicle assembly 700 of the invention. As shown, a track assembly 730 is provided that includes a track 733 with a curved, upward facing contact surface (e.g., a circle segment with a particular arc or segment length). The track 733 is supported on or protrudes from support member 736. The assembly 700 further includes the vehicle or car 710 mounted to ride upon the track 733 such as with skids or wheels that ride upon the contact surface of track 733. The vehicle 710 has seats 712 for passengers or guests (e.g., 2 to 6 or more guests). The vehicle 710 has a body 711 than has a length, L.sub.car, and during operation the vehicle 710 travels along the track 733 in the direction shown with arrow 751 (i.e., the direction of travel). The vehicle 710 may be a powered vehicle or may move based on gravity (e.g., as is the case with many roller coaster-type rides).

Although shown in a straight, non-banked form, the track assembly 730 may have sections where the track 733 is provided in banked curves with a substantial portion of the contact surface of the track 733 provided at an angle relative to a horizontal plane. In such banked portions of the ride assembly 700, the vehicle 710 is able to move transversely relative to the direction of travel 751 as shown with arrow 750. To allow this to occur safely, the vehicle 710 includes arms 714, 716 that extend over and capture or enclose the tips or ends 732 of the track 733. The arms 714, 716 define a guide slot or groove shaped to receive the track 733 and with a width and thickness (or height) greater than the width and thickness of the track 733. In some cases, the width of the guide slot may only be a few inches greater but in other applications the width of the guide slot may be several feet greater to allow the vehicle 710 a significant amount of travel transverse to the direction of travel 751 or longitudinal axis of track 733 such as 0 to 3 feet or more in either direction. In the embodiment shown, the arms 714, 716 each extend all or substantially all of the length of the car, L.sub.car (i.e., L.sub.car is approximately equal to or equal to the length of the arms, L.sub.arm).

Categories: Imagineering Tags: , ,

Camp Minnie-Mickey

March 22, 2010 3 comments

I was reading Sam Gennawey’s blog today at SamLand and he had an article talking about some of the details behind the idea for Camp Minnie-Mickey, and it made me stop and think how lacking this area is and how much it’s missing. Truth be told, I find the idea for Camp Minnie-Mickey to be a bit odd at a park that is supposed  to be themed around animals. From what I’ve read, the idea for the camp theme came about at the last minute as a placeholder for the land that was intended to be utilized for Beastly Kingdom when the park was being built and the budget ran out. And while I would like to see them fully realize the area into something more along the lines of what was originally planned, I had a few more ideas about what could be done with the area under the existing theme.

I think if the camp theme were to be fully utilized there are several ways they could expand and greatly improve on it.  I think back to my youth and experiences of going to camp and remember several things that I think the imagineers missed in creating their “camp”.

Picture if you will, as you come into the area there is a big chalk activity board that highlights the activities (attractions) taking place for the day just like you might see at camp.

Even though, the area is named for Minnie and Mickey, they are pretty absent from here for the most part, except for their appearances on the “trails” for meet and greets. Why don’t they create a camp show featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip & Dale, and their other friends? The Pocahontas stage show closed in Oct of 2008, and has sat vacant ever since. Why not use this theater to host a variety type show with the characters and some guests from the audience? It just seems this would be the perfect environment for some cheesy show (pardon the pun), like the kind you might have seen while away at summer camp.

This is a camp, right? So, shouldn’t there be cabins? Since Toontown is certain to be headed for the wrecking ball in the near future, why not take the concept for Mickey and Minnie’s houses at Magic Kingdom, and create something similar here in the camp. Build a real-looking camp with walk-thru cabins for the characters. There could be a guys cabin which would pretty much be a disaster similar to Mickey’s house, and would have clothes and sleeping bags strewn everywhere as well as other messes for Mickey, Goofy and Donald. Then there could be the girls cabin which would be clean and pristine kind of like Minnie’s house and girly of course for Minnie and Daisy. The place could be decorated inside and out with their crafts and artwork created from previous years. They could even bring over some of the artwork from the existing houses in Toontown. Another idea might be tents. Setup some tents for Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald with views of their stuff inside their tents. Of course Goofy and Donald’s tents would be somewhat of a mess.

Donald’s boat races. Almost every camp has some kind of water attraction, whether it’s a lake a pool or some other kind of water play area. I could visualize a medium thrill, racing water coaster type attraction somewhere in the area that would feature two side-by-side tracks with 4-person “boats” racing and ending up at the finish line with a splash. Not to mention the fact that Animal Kingdom could definitely benefit from another water ride to cool off guests in the hot Florida summer’s.

Goofy’s Zip-line. This is an idea for a thrill ride begging to be built. Most everybody is familiar with the zip line, but what about a ride that was based on this popular camp ride. It could be a lie down, forward facing  type of roller coaster involving speed and height to simulate a zip line. Or, they could build a few actual lines that would allow guests to zoom down from a high point somewhere in the area like a tower, or even a hill/mountain added somewhere.  This would be a popular attraction with long lines, so they would have to build several zip lines at varying heights to improve the flow. They could also build a dual purpose hill/mountain that would feature the aforementioned Donald’s boat races, as well as the zip lines. Alternatively, and not really a favored idea, they could build another spinner (Dumbo), but with riders lying down, in a forward facing position. I don’t really like this idea because it’s the type of ride you might see at your local fair/carnival, but then the same might be said for Astro Orbiter, Dumbo, Aladdin, etc.

Pooh’s Playful spot.  The Fantasyland expansion is about to kick into high gear any day now, which will also mean the end of Pooh’s playground and meet and greet.  I’m not crazy about this area because I don’t have any kids young enough to enjoy it at MK, but I understand the need and the attraction of it, so why not re-build it here at camp Minnie-Mickey?

Activity Hall.  large camp dining facility featuring camp foods, sandwiches, burgers, ice cream, etc.

So, what do you think, is it starting to feel like camp yet?

Pride lands

March 19, 2010 1 comment

Even though it’s been out since 1994, Disney’s, The Lion King, still remains one of the most successful animated movies of all time, and its characters are some of the favorites in and outside of the parks. So, why not take advantage of this? Why not remodel Camp Minnie Mickey at Animal Kingdom into Simba (and Mufasa’s) “home”, the Pride Lands.  Of course, they would have to keep the ever popular Festival of the Lion King show, but the entire area around there would be made into a mockup of different scenes and features from this popular movie.

The way I figure it, they could do this two different ways. 1) It could be a re-creation of several of the different scenes and attractions from the original movie and feature the characters from the movie at those attractions. 2) It could be a zoo type exhibit with Lions, Meer cats and Warthogs. Optionally, they could have hyenas too. Either way, they really couldn’t go wrong here.

Here are a few ideas I came up with for a remodel of Camp Minnie-Mickey into The Pride Lands.

Pride Rock – Rock-work featured in the movie could serve as the “weenie” or as the entrance to this area. It could serve as a platform where guests could go onto and look out over a big, real-life lion exhibit. If used as the “weenie”, it could serve as a building to host the following attraction.

priderock4

Mufasa’s Theater  – dark ride, or circle vision dome type theater with a view of the stars where Mufasa is your guide and points out different features and past leaders of the Pride Lands.

The Badlands/Elephant Grave Yard– Rollercoaster/dark ride thru the bone yard with laughing hyenas, stampeding wildebeest and of course Scar.

elephantgraveyard

Pumba The Flying warthog – Traditional flying spinner featuring Pumbaa

Timone’s Meerkat Mayhem - Tunnels, maze and playground area resembling meerkat environments but big enough for kids and adults to run around and play in.

Hakuna Matata – Restaurant featuring Timon and Pumba and some of their “creative” foods and flavors.

Lion exhibit – this could be added with real life lions, and their cubs too.

Meerkat, Warthog & Hyena exhibits – meerkats are such funny little critters that are interesting to watch, warthogs, well… not sure

The one thing I don’t like about this idea is the fact that it would devote an entire land/section to one particular movie. I know it’s been done in other sections in Disney parks, like The Living Seas with the Nemo overlay, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a great idea. I think a land/section should, when possible,  have multiple influences in determining what attractions are hosted there. I think this just adds to the variety and flexibility for future design changes. Even so, the Lion King is rich enough in story and characters and has remained popular over time and I believe it would lend well to this area of the park.

Update: 8/10/12 – It’s been rumored that James Cameron’s Avatar/Pandora “land” will be built in the area of Camp Minnie Mickey, and that The Festival of the Lion King theater will move to the area of Harambe in Africa. With the success of Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure and the highly immerse attractions they built for this, I think a similar, highly themed mini-land/area with attractions dedicated to The Lion King would fit well in Animal Kingdom and be a big draw.

Re-visiting this post, I noticed I made a terrible mistake in that I made no mention of Festival of the Lion King (FOTLK). This show would indubitably be kept. Perhaps in lieu of Mufasa’s show mentioned above, the Pride Rock theater would most likely house this ever-popular show. 

Update: 1/4/13 - Plans have been revealed by The Daily City for re-locating The Festival of the Lion King theater to the area behind Tusker House and Dawa Bar in Harambe Village.  See more at the following link – http://www.thedailycity.com/2013/01/walt-disney-world-animal-kingdom.html?m=1

Update: 3/21/13 - Construction has begun at Animal Kingdom, on the new Festival of the Lion King theater, mentioned above.  You see more about at The Disney BlogConstruction Begins on New Festival of the Lion King Location.

Head for the Mountains

March 8, 2010 1 comment

No, this isn’t about (Busch) beer. It’s about Disney mountains at Walt Disney World. You know, Space, Big Thunder, Splash, and the latest, Forbidden mountain, which is where the legendary Yeti resides. But,  it’s not really about those mountains. It’s about what I think are the missing mountains of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood studios.

Epcot has actually had at least a couple of mountains on the drawing boards at different times over the years, but sadly, that’s as far as they ever got. Once upon a time there were plans for a Swiss pavilion which would include an east coast version of the famous Matterhorn twisting thru it much like the one at Disneyland.

Courtesy of Disney and more

There were also plans and models built that would bring Mount Fuji to the Japan pavilion at Epcot. Jim Hill has more details and some pretty neat photos on his site here.

Courtesy of Jim Hill Media

So, the question comes up, why weren’t either of these built. The short answer is money. The longer answer involves sponsorship, or lack thereof. It’s too bad really that they were never built, as I believe either one or even both of them would still be great additions to Epcot. Perhaps someday these ideas will be resurrected from the Imagineering archives. Until then, we can just drool over the photos and dream.

While I don’t know if a mountain has ever been considered for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, one should be. Think about it, think about Hollywood and what image comes to mind almost immediately?

Look familiar?

Pictured above is Mount Lee and the famous H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D letters overlooking Hollywood, Ca.

You probably weren’t familiar with the name of the hill, until now, but you’ve probably seen it hundreds of times on tv and in movies. It’s an instantly recognizable landmark for the city of Hollywood and the movie business. DHS would seem to be a perfect park to have a replica of this mountain in it. In fact, the park would almost seem to be missing this famous icon. I mean, how can they have a park that is dedicated to movies and even has the name in it, and not feature this hill and those letters?  The imagineers did a fantastic job in theming and building this park, especially in the front of the park on Sunset and Hollywood boulevard’s re-creating the look and feel of California, but in my opinion, this one icon is strangely absent from the park.

I would love to see Mount Lee built-in DHS, in one of 3 possible locations in the park.

  1. The first, which would seem to make the most sense, but be the most complicated would be at the end of Sunset Boulevard behind Tower of Terror and Rock N’ Rollercoaster. This is probably the least advantageous location because most of the view of the mountain would be blocked. However, there would also seem to be lots of room in the area to build it.
  2. The second location would be at the end of Hollywood boulevard in front of, or on top of the Great Movie ride building. I’ve heard various reasons/rumors over the years as to why the sorcerer Mickey hat was built in front the Great Movie ride. Most fans seem to think that it was built to hide the face for Grauman’s Chinese theater due to a licensing issue, however, I don’t know that I agree with that, as I think Disney could have just as easily changed the face of the building if that was the issue. Regardless, most of those fans seem to agree that they dislike the hat and think it should go. Personally, I’m not crazy about it, but I don’t think it belongs there. But, if for some reason they can’t use the Grauman’s image any more, and they were wanting to re-design the theme it would seem to be a great spot to build either a faux backdrop like the one on the streets of New York, or build a full-scale mountain on top of the buildings in this area.
  3. The last thought would be the area currently know as Catastrophe Canyon and is only accessible to guests via the Backlot tour. It’s been a couple of years since I last went on the tour, but I remember thinking that it’s looking pretty rough and has seen it’s better day. I think building Mount Lee in this area would make for a worthy and very suitable replacement. If done right, they could also make it visible enough to be seen from World Drive as well as the entrance for cars to DHS. They could build it so the letters could be seen on both sides from inside the park and on the outside from World Drive. I really like this idea the best. There is lots of space back there and it would seem to be the area for the most potential.

The only thing left would be to figure out what to put inside the mountain. Several ideas come to mind, but none that I feel strong enough at the moment to support a ride or attraction worthy of it’s name and image. However, I would love to hear your ideas as to what kind of attraction could be built into Mount Lee at DHS.

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