Disney takes the high-tech highway

PART TECHNOLOGY, PART MAGIC: This simulated image shows the Shanghai Disney Resort, which will be opened in 2015. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs said that it will be Disney's most technologically advanced resort.


    Oct 09, 2013

    Disney takes the high-tech highway

    AT FIRST glance, it has the look of a cutting-edge, high-tech exhibition. There's a digital showroom in which viewers can enjoy a 3-D experience, an electronic wristband that can be used as your admission pass and a talking robot that looks like a fortune-teller.

    These exhibits were just a part of the Walt Disney Imagineering open house at the Disney D23 Expo held in August.

    The weekend-long event brought consumers behind the scenes to experience the company's many franchises through a mix of traditional storytelling and new technologies.

    The expo for D23, the official Disney fan club, was the third biannual event held at the Anaheim Convention Centre in Southern California.

    Many of the company's new technologies on display at the D23 Expo might make their way to a Disney resort in Shanghai when it opens in 2015.

    During his frequent trips to China, Mr Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, reiterated that he will give Chinese customers a resort that is "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese".

    The Shanghai resort will be Disney's most technologically advanced resort, said Mr Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

    He said: "We invented a number of ride systems for the park. Some of them will be very obvious. Some of them will be part of the magic."

    Mr Staggs said the resort will largely be based on the tendencies of its customers. For example, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, people stay for at least a week. In Tokyo Disney Resort, people tend to stay for one or two days, he said.

    He said the company will initially consider how visitors will use the resort and its technology and then implement updates later as the resort responds to that customer usage.

    "We want to make sure we leverage technology to the greatest extent possible to make it as easy and fun and convenient and, at the same time, as personalised as possible for each of our guests," Mr Staggs said.

    With the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, major investments in the company's parks and resorts and an expansion into key international markets, Disney has focused its next chapter of growth on technology.

    Mr Iger said: "Technology informs all of our creative businesses. You can't succeed or survive unless you are capable of adapting to new technology and adopting technology in every aspect of how the company runs."

    He added that new technology is creating venues by which Disney can reach consumers and new ways that consumers consume intellectual property.

    In terms of future growth, aside from creating more intellectual properties and growing internationally, it is also important to create new content, he said, citing YouTube as an example.