Dispatch From Disneyland - Feb 2, 2000

Dispatch From Disneyland
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Dispatch From the Future

Anniversaries are a time to look backward and forward. If you can't learn from where you've been, then there is little hope the future will turn out right. If you can't envision a bright future, then all your past efforts will go to waste. Walt knew this and the various lands of Disneyland (and his vision of EPCOT) all pertain to this philosophy.

Disneyland is approaching it's 45th Anniversary on July 17th (should be a national holiday if you ask me) and I have been consulting my crystal ball for a vision of what the park might look like 45 years from now.

Chances are it will be much the same as it is now. Main Street will have a few new tenants, I'm sure. Sleeping Beauty Castle will still anchor the guest's walk toward the hub, and the Train Station will still be the focus for those approaching Town Square. Many new attractions will dot the landscape and plenty of old favorites will continue to entertain beyond their billionth guest.

Yes. It will look familiar to my then 75 year old eyes.

However, there is a buzzword being passed around the hallways of Walt Disney Imagineering even now that will change all that-Total Immersion Environments. TIE worlds are the ultimate experience in themed entertainment. Low-tech versions of this exist today with fantasy role-playing games and events, such as murder mysteries, Sunset Blvd characters in MGM-Disney Studios, etc.. The first of the high-tech TIE worlds might be said to exist in Universal's Islands of Adventure Amazing Spiderman ride. But well before 45 years arrives, things will be totally different.

It's likely that TIE worlds will exist both as overlays to existing environments and as stand alone attractions. Stand alone attractions will be more structured and heavily scripted like today's experiences. In an overlay, each participant will choose 'skins' that will help customize the experience for them. That skin will then be planted on top of the existing world to augment the experience. At Disneyland it might work something like this...

"Hello and welcome to Disneyland. Guests wishing to purchase passports please proceed to a yellow guest services station. Guests who need to rent our TIE visor please check in at the main entrance. Thank you for visiting Disneyland. We hope your stay here is a pleasant one."

The deep and rich voice of the Disneyland announcer fills your ears as you approach the Disneyland Entrance Plaza. This is your first trip in over a year and the lushness of the spring plants and the beautiful flower arrangements are overwhelming. Still you and your family manage to make your way to the main entrance and pick up your Disney TIE visors.

The visor interfaces with your personal iNet even as your pre-purchased passport is being verified through the Disneyland Entrance network. A quick smile for the biometrics face scan and you're through the gates and in front of that famous floral Mickey.

That friendly voice fills your head again. "Hello. Through these gates you'll find worlds of the past, fantasy, and tomorrow as presented to you by the minds and talents of the Walt Disney Company. Please don your Disney TIE visor now. "

Sliding the visor into place and selecting the on button results in a small green light telling you everything is working. You look around and see a few Cast Members helping guests configure the visor to more difficult iNET models. Quickly everyone in your party is ready to go.

In a few seconds another Disney Cast Member approaches your group. She is about 5 foot 8 inches tall and has a peppy cheerful look about her. She is a little on the fair skinned side, with blonde hair that falls past her shoulders, the Southern California woman prototype. Her costume is the traditional Disneyland Guest Relations plaid that you remember seeing on every visit.

Addressing your family she says "Hi. I'm Tour Guide TIAA. TIAA stands for Total Immersion Assistance Avatar, but you can just call me Tia. If you need my help at anytime call for me and I'll be right there to aid you. In the meantime, please stand still while I activate your preferences menu."

A hover screen appears about 5 feet in front of you. And lists a menu of choices that will help shape your visit today.

"A few minutes of preparation can save endless hours of waiting inside the park," continues Tia. "So please be patient while we get you set up. If you plan to return tomorrow, these settings will be saved and available to you."

"Please choose an Avatar now," states Tia. "My sister Tour Guide Tanya is our most popular avatar and is our default selection. Our second most popular avatar is Mickey Mouse. He's perfect for the young and the young at heart. Please make your choice now, or select 'List Avatars' for more options."

"Thank you for choosing Tour Guide Tanya. Remember if you need assistance you can either ask Tanya or call for me, Tia, at any time." With that Tia waves good-bye and walks off into the distance, disappearing behind another family.

Seconds later another Guest Relations tour guide approaches. She could be Tia's twin except for the name badge that reads Tanya. "Hi everyone," she says. After a pause she says, "it's okay. You can say hi to me. I'm very interactive and can answer nearly any question you have."

"Hi Tanya." You all reply in unison.

"Alright let's get on with the show." She says. "Follow me underneath the train tracks and onto Disneyland's Main Street USA."

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