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Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

13 ways Disney could use drones at its parks

Compiled by Herb Scribner, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Fri, Aug. 29 9:22 p.m. MDT

Disney just made a bold move.

The family friendly entertainment company announced Thursday that it's filing for three patents that will bring the company into the drone industry, according to Stitch Kingdom, which broke the news.

The three patents filed are as follows, according to Stitch Kingdom:

“Aerial Display System with Floating Pixels.”

“Aerial Display System with Floating Projection Screens.”

“Aerial Display System with Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices.”

Building a drone can cost between $4.5 and $11 million, so that’s a hefty amount of cash to fork over for these devices. But that’s not necessarily too surprising when you consider that Disney invested $1 billion into technology that can track your moves at its parks, Businessweek reported.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t allow the use of drone technology for commercial use yet, which will stall these high fliers from taking over the Magic Kingdom for the time being.

Still, Disney’s move to file for patents on drones is intriguing. After all, what use could an amusement park have for these airborne vehicles that are more prominently used in the military?

To get an idea of what you could see at Disney with this technology, here are 14 ways the company could use drones:

Giant-size character shows

Want to see Pinocchio literally held by string? Or how about Jack Skellington stomp across the park? Well, drones can certainly help with that. The Daily Dot’s article on Disney’s early foray into the drone world hosts images of planned demonstrations that Disney submitted with its patents. One included a character being operated like a puppet, and another showed Skellington walking by a crowd of people.

Fireworks

Disney’s got some fancy fireworks shows. In fact, there are at least seven shows every day that exclusively include either fireworks or a parade, according to Walt Disney World’s information website. Now imagine drones setting the fireworks off in the sky instead of people or machines down below. More so, drones could even shoot smoke or special effects.

The wedding

Disney offers a variety of different places for couples to get married — Florida, California, Hawaii and on a cruise, according to Disney Weddings. So imagine a drone flying over the ceremony to take photos of the wedding, or even set off some fireworks or other effects. As The New York Times reported earlier this month, people are using drones to snap photos of their weddings. Disney could easily use drones to help its nuptial events add another level of entertainment and sophistication.

Keep things safe

One of the benefits of drones, according to SRI International, a nonprofit research organization, is that they promote safety and help with law enforcement. Drones “can be used to search for lost children, provide tactical surveillance and suspect tracking, assist in accident investigations and monitor large crowds,” the SRI explained. For a park that has a hefty amount of different crimes, drones can help cut down on those issues and keep people safe.

Special delivery

Amazon has been rumored to use drones to deliver packages, and recently those rumors have picked up a lot of steam and support. This is something Disney could get onboard with, too, offering packages to people who are staying at the park for a while.

Keep an eye on everyone

We know Disney believes in using technology to keep track of people's movements in parks, and drones would only add to that. But maybe this can be done in a positive way. Like Instagram did with its recent Hyperlapse app, Disney could offer you a more visual experience. After all, many people leave Disney with photos of their dive down Splash Mountain — some are hilarious, while others are just staged. Aerial drones with the ability to snap a shot of you and your family acting out could give you more memories to bring home.

Search and rescue

Walt Disney World’s parks don’t shy away from the fact that there are plenty of dangers on their properties. But what if drones could help spot those? BBC News reported in April that scientists were using drones to help research tornadoes and organize rescue efforts. Given all the situations that can pop up at Disney, having some air assistance wouldn’t be the worst form of help.

Easier parking

Drones have helped improve city parking before, according to The Times-Picayune. And that can surely come into play at Disney parks. It costs $17 for a car, taxi, limo or motorcycle to park at Disney, and prices only go up from there — $18 for a camper, trailer or RV, and $21 for a bus or tractor-trailer, according to Disney. With those fees, the added stress of finding a spot could be cut down with the assistance of drones.

Play some music

There are drones that can play some pretty good music, according to The Verge. Now imagine those frisky fliers playing their own tunes in the sky and making things a little more musical for all the parkgoers.

The drone show

It’s possible for drones to have their own little battles. One online website offers a look at a battle series between different drones, which could be something Disney brings to its parks. After all, some of the attractions at the park include the “Indiana Jones Adventure” and “Star Tours,” the Star Wars ride. A little drone battle isn’t too far-fetched.

Better Internet access

Remember when Facebook and Google battled over buying Titan Aerospace, a drone maker? Well, it’s all about bringing the Internet to places it may not be very popular. Some drones in the air with Wi-Fi routers attached would help Disney bring better Wi-Fi to its parks.

More characters

All the Disney characters pop up now and again in the different theme parks. From Mickey Mouse to even the “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast, any character with a Disney label can appear in the park to spend some time with the people. The drones could act as smaller characters, like those from “Cars,” “Planes,” or even "Star Wars," which may have more of a presence in Disney theme parks in the coming years, according to The Huffington Post.

Keeping track of wildlife

Disney’s Animal Kingdom could always use some help in the air. With giraffes, rhinos and lions spread throughout, the drones could keep an eye on the animals and make sure they’re healthy and safe in their environments. After all, drones have been known to help animals in the past, both for tracking and protecting them, according to CBS.

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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1. RG
Buena Vista, VA,
Aug. 29, 2014

Drones are very cool and useful but I'm scratching my head at yet another article in the DN about Disney!! I need to go back and count how many Disney articles the DN has published in the last year or so.

2. Dr. Thom
Long Beach, CA,
Sept. 1, 2014

I worked in the Park as a "Kid of the Kingdom" for four years while going to college and if any place or people can make it a success, its Disney