New Patent: Omnitable Ride System
Maybe it was just too early, or before the caffeine kicked in, but the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the title of this new patent application by Disney, “Omnitable Ride System”, was that it was for a new circular dining restaurant concept, which isn’t actually a bad idea really, but then I saw the first image, and my mind instantly said, “Carousel of Progress”.
I hesitate to even say this, because usually the mere mention of WDI replacing a classic/original attraction such as CoP brings out the “Disney Purists”, who don’t want to see anything that Walt had his hands on to change, especially this one. But, let’s face it, Disney hasn’t exactly done much to this attraction in the last, I don’t know, 20 or so years. Suffice to say, I don’t think they really know what to do with it, and due to the “purists” and how they’ve reacted in the past, are probably afraid to do ANYTHING to it.
Regardless, I present the patent application filed September 6, 2011, but has just surfaced March 7, 2013. (I don’t quite understand why the difference, filing and approval period, perhaps?).
A circular omnimover or omnitable ride system. The ride system includes a stationary, centrally-located platform for loading and unloading passengers. A turntable assembly is provided that includes a turntable with an upper surface substantially coplanar with an upper surface of the platform. The turntable has a centrally-located hole or passageway defined by an inner sidewall to receiving the non-rotating platform. Passenger vehicles are mounted along an outer edge of the turntable via translation mechanisms. A drive mechanism rotates the turntable about a central axis at a constant rate. The vehicles are moved through a station space and a show space during one or two full rotations of the turntable. The passenger vehicles are loaded and unloaded in the station space via the platform and then dispatched by the translation mechanism into the show space, which may involve increasing the vehicle’s radius and changing its vertical position relative to the turntable.
Similar to the Omnimover attractions with vehicles attached to a chain traveling at a constant speed, the main difference here is the fact that this rotates around a circular table in a much smaller space (theoretically) than most of the existing attractions using this ride mechanism.
In the station, the vehicles are positioned to face forward along the ride path (e.g., the vehicle body is orthogonal to the sidewall) to facilitate loading/unloading. As the vehicles pass through an opening in the wall or a “dispatch point,” the vehicles may be rotated to face show elements provided on or near to inner surface of the outer wall or enclosure structure or provided elsewhere in the show space. Then, as the turntable is further rotated, the vehicles may be rotated again such as to face forward again as shown with arrow for vehicle. Next, the vehicles may be rotated from facing forward to face inward toward platform toward show elements provided on the upper surface of rotating turntable (or hanging down from above so as to not move with the turntable). Of course, many other rotation patterns may be used to provide a desired ride profile with ride system, and, as the vehicles return to the station, the vehicles are typically rotated back to face forward and are locked in place to ensure no further movement while in the station for safe and easy unloading and loading. The turntable continues to be rotated about the center rotation axis even as vehicles enter and leave the station.
The application has several variations on the ride vehicles and their orientation, loading/unloading options and even a few different variations where the vehicles have horizontal and vertical movement.
So, is this a potential future for WDW’s Carousel of Progress, or could it be for an entirely new attraction? And, whether you’re a “purist” or not, you must admit, these are some neat looking concepts. Now, the only question is, story. What kind of story would best be suited for this ride? Hopefully they already have something in mind and it’s on its way to the parks.