Disney Accelerator Demo Day 2017

It was a beautiful afternoon on The Walt Disney Studios Lot. After checking in and walking past the Hyperion Bungalow, I noticed the booths that lined the walkway running past Buena Vista Cafe, making a right at Pluto’s Corner, and leading up to The Walt Disney Studios Theatre. These were booths for each of the companies that were participating in the 2017 Disney Accelerator program and who would later be presenting during the event. Imagine the vibe as being similar to that of a very “hip” technology conference in downtown San Francisco with attendees and investors outside mingling before the presentations began.

There were contemporary dance mixes of Disney favorites like “Baroque Hoedown,” “Once Upon A Dream,” and “Let It Go” being played over the speakers as I was taking my seat in The Walt Disney Studios Theatre. It was a fairly full house with a number of Disney Executives – Bob Iger (Chairman and Chief Executive Office, President), Alan Horn (Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios), and Bob Chapek (Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) – in attendance to watch the presentation. As I waited for the event to begin, I could hear some early buzz about The VOID from the people behind me. Having seen the press release of the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire just a few hours earlier, I was interested in learning more about The VOID experience.

The presentation began with an exciting new “sizzle reel” focused on the innovation, both past and present, that has helped The Walt Disney Company become what it is today. Bob Iger then stood up to greet the attendees and made note that, other than Walt Disney, he has had the honor of working with every innovator included in the intro video: Walt Disney (The Walt Disney Company), Stan Lee (Marvel Comics), Leonard Goldenson (Founder of ABC, Inc.), George Lucas (Founder of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic), Scott Rasmussen (Founder of ESPN), and Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple Inc.).

Disney Accelerator began in 2014 and has been helping The Walt Disney Company introduce new technologies, storytelling mediums, and innovative entertainment platforms to its global audience. Key representatives from each of the companies that are participating in the 4th round of Disney Accelerator were given the opportunity to share their story. Think of it as a series of “Shark Tank” presentations. Although Disney has already been investing into these 11 companies, this event provided these entrepreneurs a great platform and perfect setting to share their story with the potential investors and the rest of the world.

The presentations kicked off and took place in the following order:

ProductionPro – http://production.pro
Ambidio – http://www.ambidio.co
Savioke – http://www.savioke.com  As was mentioned during the presentation, Relay – The first autonomous delivery robot – will soon be making it’s “premiere” at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel.
Kahoot! – https://kahoot.it
MessageYes – https://messageyes.com
Hoodline – https://hoodline.com 
Samba TV – https://samba.tv
Brit + Co – https://www.brit.co
The VOID – https://www.thevoid.com
Epic Games – https://www.epicgames.com

After the awesome presentations, it was cocktail and mingling hour, which gave the attendees and potential investors an opportunity to visit the different booths and get to the know the companies a little more. After cocktail hour, we were all invited to Grand Central Creative Campus in Glendale for a sneak peak at The VOID experience that was themed to Ghostbusters.

Having just read about and watched the promo for The VOID’s new experience coming to both Disney Springs in Orlando and Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, I was very interested in learning more. Having not done much in Virtual Reality experiences in the past, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to get excited about. After I put on the laser tag-like gear that was needed for the fully immersive hyper-reality experience, our group of three was ready to begin.

I am not going to summarize each scene for you, but I am going to attempt to put into words how I felt before, during, and after. Again, having not experienced much of this type of entertainment before, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. It was new and different so it piqued my interest but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

While I was experiencing The VOID, my mouth was agape and I was completely enthralled the entire time. I was magically transported to an amazing digital world – a fully immersive environment that I could see, touch, feel, and smell. Stepping into a virtual elevator and looking over the edge of a tall city building while blasting away ghosts with a Ghostbusters Proton Pack was unbelievable and I couldn’t help but laugh in enjoyment the entire time. The Ghostbusters Dimension was a fun storyline to go through and follow but I constantly thought about how incredible this will be with a Star Wars storyline. While I, admittedly, was not an early enthusiast, I can now say that I am a firm believer that the The VOID experience in Anaheim and Orlando are going to be extremely popular and a must-do for anyone planning to vacation with Disney.

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Disney Accelerator participants and thank you for sharing your stories of how you are changing the world. LaughingPlace.com will cover one of these companies each week so you can get to know how each organization seeks to leave their mark on the ever evolving technological landscape.