Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has out and out rejected Virtual Reality (VR) as a component of any Disney Theme park. While Knott's Berry Farm, why-hasn't-this-chain-shut-down-yet Sea World (seriously, RIP Tillikum), and Six Flags have all invested in VR to help spice up their parks in this theme park depression period, Iger has "ordered his team not to even think about it." Iger instead is very much onboard the Augmented Reality (AR) train.
Thursday, Iger spoke at a USC Marashall and Annenberg event, and sounded excited about the possibility of AR within ride attraction. While a headset would still be required, these attractions would focus on the blend of the physical and digital, rather than creating a virtual world. AR is more in line with the experience Disney aims to give to customers at their park, as Iger explained:
What we create is an experience that is real. When you walk into Cars Land, you feel you're in Radiator Springs because of what we've built — not only the attention to the detail, but the scale.
It's also on-brand in terms of the current rides at the park, which include a Toy Story ride through game that veers into the mixed reality category, which you can check out in the video below:
He seems to be on the same page as park-goers, as management professor Martin Lewison pointed out to the LA Times, as a "park purist," he said he would "much rather go on a $250-million ride at Disneyland than throw a mask strapped to a Samsung smartphone over my eyes."
Iger did let one other detail slip, saying that every Tuesday afternoon he spends time "Disney engineering lab sporting a head-worn device that enables him to hold a light-saber and duel with a stormtrooper." Every Tuesday? Seems like the dedication of a true Jedi. We're wondering what that appointment looks like in his planner.
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