Long-rumored refreshed monorails could be coming to Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort — and they might use projection mapping and augmented reality to recreate scenes from the Star Wars saga, Orlando Weekly reports.
In new episodes of Disney news podcast The Disney Dish with Jim Hill, Touring Plans founder and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World author Len Testa and Disney historian and industry insider Jim Hill have worked to uncover a “highly confidential plan within Disney” that sees the company aiming to develop augmented reality windows for the transit system, which shepherds more than 150,000 daily guests through Walt Disney World’s numerous theme parks and resorts.
The tech is described as “piggybacking” on recent patents by Walt Disney Imagineers, which plans to use projection mapping in upcoming Star Wars-themed resort hotel rooms that would give guests a view of outer space.
Citing a “Disney insider,” Testa claims that immersive technology will be coming to the monorails, bringing the world of Star Wars into real life.
Testa pointed to an example using Spaceship Earth, the iconic geodesic sphere famously associated with Epcot: as the trains pass the structure, Spaceship Earth would be transformed into the Empire’s Death Star, complete with accompanying Rebel X-Wings in flight.
He goes on to mention the technology is so advanced it could even recognize the weather, which would be reflected in the augmented scenes: if it was a cloudy day, the Star Wars theme would similarly include clouds.
Disney Legend and retired Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr — who has developed more than 100 designs for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, including the monorails for both destinations — revealed last month new monorails are coming to the sprawling Florida resort, which is expected to open its major Star Wars addition, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, sometime in 2019.
Orlando Weekly says in addition to the AR windows, the trains could include LED-themed lighting that was shown off at a previous D23 convention.
Disney exhibited the technology on a prototype “Sorcerer Class Concept Bus,” which was created “to explore new ways to differentiate the Disney Transport experience.”
A video from Inside the Magic shows the prototype in action, which employs rapidly changing LED lights synced to songs, quotes, and sounds from Disney films, including samples from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“There has been an awakening,” says the villain Snoke (voice of Andy Serkis) at 1:06 minutes into the video, as the LED tubes glow a deathly red.
The familiar labored breathing of half-man, half-machine Sith Lord Darth Vader kicks in as the LED tubes flash various lightsaber colors — blue, green, purple, red — as John Williams’ Star Wars theme comes to life, accompanied by the roars of Chewbacca and the beeps of droid R2-D2.
The video further sees Star Wars transition into Marvel Studios’ Avengers franchise, with the lights glowing red, white, and blue as Captain America calls for the assemblage of Earth’s mightiest heroes. The lights then turn green as the Hulk roars over Alan Silvestri’s heroic Avengers theme.
If rumors prove true, the new monorails could be announced within the next two years and the first fleet going into operation by Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
The Walt Disney Company announced the Star Wars-themed lands at D23 Expo 2017, to be added at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Bay Lake, Florida.2comments
Disney’s biggest park expansions ever, the 14 acre lands will be highly immersive with every restaurant, shop, and building inhabited by Star Wars droids and aliens.
The immersion won’t stop at the parks: guests boarding in Walt Disney World’s Star Wars-inspired hotel, seamlessly connected to the Galaxy’s Edge theme park, will “board a starship alive with characters and stories that unfold all around them during their voyage through the galaxy,” with every window offering a view of space.