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.
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).
Maybe it’s just me, but I think the tractor in this image resembles the tractors from CARS. Judge for yourself.
Vehicle and track system for flying corner amusement park rides – March 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.
Now, 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.
Maybe 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).