Disney has been approved for a patent that would create personalized interactive attractions for theme park visitors. The technology would facilitate headset-free augmented reality (AR) attractions at Disney theme parks.
The tech would work by tracking visitors using their mobile phones and generating and projecting personalized 3D effects onto nearby physical spaces, walls and objects in the park.
The entertainment giant was approved for a “virtual-world simulator in a real-world venue” patent on Dec. 28, 2021. It was originally filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in July 2020.
The metaverse has largely been imagined as existing on the internet, accessed using virtual reality or AR headsets. However, the technology proposed by Disney would bring the metaverse to the physical world.
This is not the first time Disney has indicated its interest in the metaverse. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in November 2021, CEO Bob Chapek said the firm is preparing to blend physical and digital assets in the metaverse:
“We’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling, without boundaries in our own Disney Metaverse.”
In November 2020, MGM Resorts International chief strategy officer Tilak Mandadi shared in a LinkedIn article that he had his sights set on blending the digital and physical world.
“As we look to the future, connected park experiences that transcend the physical and digital barrier and unlock new layers of storytelling are a very exciting focus of ours,” he wrote at the time.
“These experiences are perennial, and the guest engagement is inside and outside the parks. They are unique to you, but are also social and connected. They are constantly changing, so there is always something new to discover.”
Although Disney told the Los Angeles Times that it had “no current plans” to use the simulator in the near future, the recently approved patent echoes Mandadi’s vision for a “Theme Park Metaverse.”
There are 12 official Disney theme parks worldwide in the United States, Paris, Hong Kong, Japan and China. In 2021, Disney generated a total revenue of nearly $17 billion with its parks, experiences and products segment despite global lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.