Bluetooth brings Disney park revolution to the Studios

Monday, 9th June 2008 at 21:16

ImageCutting-edge Bluetooth technology has merged with the big ears of Mickey Mouse for the first time at Walt Disney Studios, delivering show times, wait times and more direct to your mobile phone across the park.,

In the evolution of the Disney theme park, this could be as big as Fastpass. You’re used to checking the latest wait times on the park information board before heading off to your first destination, but imagine being able to see them, live, across the park — on your mobile phone.

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Now, at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, you can. Grabbing the latest show times for CinéMagique whilst enjoying a bite to eat inside Disney Studio 1 might not be exactly revolutionary — what’s wrong with picking up a Programme leaflet, afterall — but it’s with the live, constantly updated attraction wait times where this system is truly exciting.

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Stand by Crush’s Coaster in Toon Studio and you can see the exact wait time of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith right across the park. Near The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, you could suddenly spot the queue time for Crush’s Coaster drop to 30 minutes and be able to make a quick dash for a quicker entry to the park favourite.

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Whereas the times on the central tips board would previously be out of reach to anyone stood more than 10ft away, and generally only used to plan your first attraction of the day, Disneyland Resort Paris has experimented with Bluetooth technology to give a park the biggest shake-up since Fastpass ticketing, distributing guests to the attractions with smaller queues throughout the day.

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Advertisement sent via Walt Disney Studios Park’s Bluetooth.

How does it work?

Most modern mobile phones come equipped with Bluetooth as standard, a short-range wireless feature that lets you exchange photos, messages and more between two handsets. You might use it for a wireless headset or linking to your car stereo, for example.day.

Turn Bluetooth on in your phone’s settings, and when walking into one of these “Bluetooth hotspots”, you’ll get a request to receive data. Accept, and the latest show times, wait times and more will be sent to your phone in the form of small images (see above). These cycle through the latest park information, which is updated in synchronisation with the main park information board, constantly updated with the latest times.

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Where does it work?

At present, the system is not available in every corner of the park. The Bluetooth standard only allows for a short-range frequency and so transmitters must be installed across the park to create the “hotspots”, much like the Wi-Fi internet you might use at cafés or in your own home. So far, the service will activate at Disney Studio 1, the Information Board, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Crush’s Coaster.

The park’s Entertainment Programme has advertised the feature since the end of May and the old information board (now placed at the end of Hollywood Boulevard) explains the system (see below). It is not known, however, whether this trial period could result in more transmitters being installed in the long term. Certainly, an additional hotspot in Backlot or the park’s restaurants would be very useful.

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What is expected, though, is that should the Walt Disney Studios Park trial be proven worthwhile and well-received (forgive the pun), the system will — in time — debut at Disneyland Park. Which, given that this park contains considerably more real “rides” than its cousin, could be where the new Disney theme park age really dawns.

The stepping stone to this ambitious project was the introduction of a new information board at Walt Disney Studios Park late last year, fully integrated into the new Hollywood Boulevard. Like the board at Disneyland Park which was refurbished back in 2006, this uses bright LCD screens behind the board to display the times, which the computer collects automatically from the electronic turnstiles at each of the park’s attractions.

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Bluetooth zones explained.

Disneyland Park was the first Disney theme park in the world to introduce this system, and remained the only park with such a “Tips Board” until Walt Disney Studios Park followed suit as the second. At the Studios, the concept was taken even further with small screens displaying clips from CinéMagique, Animagique and Moteurs… Action! on a loop, to entice guests to these shows.

So, next time you visit the Studios, you don’t need big eyes — or ears — to keep track of the latest wait times. Just a little mobile phone magic.

The Bluetooth Disney park revolution has begun!

[Images: DLRP Today; Joel’s Photo Hunt; Melroy, Disney Gazette]

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