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  • News Disney Teaming with Verizon to enhance guest visits (Merged)

    This was on the LA Times Business page:
    Disney, Verizon to turn the cellphone into a theme-park visitor's tool - Los Angeles Times

    Disney, Verizon to turn the cellphone into a theme-park visitor's tool



    Email Picture
    Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
    A crowd lines up at a Disneyland attraction last year. A wireless service in the works could help visitors make better use of their time at the park.


    [COLOR=#333333! important]Wireless software promises to help mobile phone users navigate the parks and make the most of their visits. But there are privacy implications.[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#999999! important]By Dawn C. Chmielewski
    November 12, 2008 [/COLOR]
    The Happiest Place on Earth will soon know where in the world you are.

    Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal with Verizon Wireless that will allow it to remain in wireless contact with its theme park visitors -- even when they step outside the turnstiles in Anaheim and Orlando, Fla.

    Disney and Verizon bill it as a way to enhance the "theme park experience," enabling parkgoers to use their mobile phones for tasks such as saving a spot in line at a popular ride and zeroing in on where Cinderella can be found signing autographs.

    But the service has broad -- and potentially controversial -- implications for marketers and consumers as each attempts to balance the need for information with privacy. The new service has echoes of the futuristic film "Minority Report," in which Tom Cruise's character is inundated with personalized ad messages as he passes interactive billboards in a mall.

    On the face of it, the application appears innocuous enough: Visitors to Disneyland or Walt Disney World would be able to download an application to their mobile phones to make trip plans, including booking hotel rooms and creating a checklist of attractions and shows to see. Once they arrive, they'll be able to use their phones to check wait times at Space Mountain or find the nearest pizza.


    "What we're doing is putting tools in the hands of our customers to better personalize their experience," said Scott Trowbridge, vice president of creative research and development for Walt Disney Imagineering.

    Disney joins a growing number of tourist attractions that employ mobile phones as a kind of personalized tour guide. Museums across the country already offer cellphone tours in place of cumbersome rented hand-held devices. History buffs walking Boston's Freedom Trail can use their cellphones as virtual docents to accompany them on the 2.5-mile trek past 16 historic sites.

    Using technology in a mobile phone that pinpoints the device's location, Disney would be able to recommend activities or restaurants to users. For example, Disney could help parkgoers avoid a long wait at Pirates of the Caribbean by alerting them to shorter lines at the Matterhorn Bobsleds, or exploit the phone's location awareness to suggest burgers at the Tomorrowland Terrace to visitors who've just exited the nearby Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride.

    "If I'm standing here, Mickey is there, how do I make my way to Mickey?" said Ryan Hughes, vice president of business development and strategic partnerships at Verizon. "If we're dying for food, where's the closest restaurant? How do we find our way there?"

    This communication could extend beyond the park, with Disney sharing personalized mementos of the visit, such as a photograph from Sleeping Beauty along with a message, thanking the young guest for visiting her castle.

    Disney and Verizon executives say they have no intention of bombarding park guests with marketing pitches for fear of intruding on privacy or detracting from the experience.

    "This is not us shooting out random messages; it's about the guest experience," said Disney parks spokesman John Nicoletti.

    But places that have adopted similar technology have found the temptation to pitch incessantly hard to resist. In cellphone-centric Japan, event posters feature small, bar-code-like images that contain coded information. When photographed by cellphone, the image takes the would-be concertgoer to an online ticketing site.

    "There's just an awful lot of experimentation right now. People understand these phones are very much a part of people's lives," said Gene Jeffers, executive director of the Themed Entertainment Assn., an alliance of companies that design, create and build theme park attractions. "Disney has really been a leader in terms of the theme parks exploring these technologies and how they could be used."

    Jeffers said the amusement park industry looks to Disney as a technological trailblazer, because it has the resources to experiment with innovative applications of technology. Last year, for example, children who brought their Nintendo DS hand-held game consoles to Disneyland and Disney World could use the gadget's wireless capability to conduct virtual treasure hunts, seeking out hidden "hot spots" throughout the parks and downloading exclusive content for their Pirates of the Caribbean game.

    Despite the marketing bonanzas such technology promises -- imagine one day approaching a Starbucks and your cellphone buzzes with 50 cents off a frothy pumpkin-flavored latte -- Disney and others must be careful about overreaching, analysts warn.

    "The challenge for parks is, how do you become part of that process without being too intrusive?" Jeffers said. "Helping to ensure that the viewer is also experiencing where they are, so they don't become isolated within the device, so to speak."

    Disney's wireless service debuts early next year at Epcot in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida at the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Initially, visitors will receive a hand-held device, dubbed a "Kimmunicator," which they will use as they travel throughout the park, searching for clues and solving puzzles as they help the Disney Channel animated sleuth on her mission to save the world. Over time, park visitors will be able to use their phones to find shows, restaurants and Disney characters inside the parks, and get instant information about wait times.

    Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, said location-sensitive applications like the one Disney and Verizon are planning are considered the next wave of marketing and advertising. And consumers are willing to surrender some of their personal privacy in exchange for receiving something of value.

    "What's most important for the park operator is to be extremely transparent, to say, "This is what we're using your location for and we're not using it for anything else," Golvin said.
    It may have zippity to do with doo-dah :ccool:

  • #2
    Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

    ...or exploit the phone's location awareness to suggest burgers at the Tomorrowland Terrace to visitors who've just exited the nearby Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride.

    "If I'm standing here, Mickey is there, how do I make my way to Mickey?" said Ryan Hughes, vice president of business development and strategic partnerships at Verizon. "If we're dying for food, where's the closest restaurant? How do we find our way there?"
    Unless they are going to monitor my need for nutrition, I will thank them to let me decide when and where I should eat. They need not worry though, I can assure them I will eat while I am at the park, as is evidenced by how skinny I am not.

    My father once taught me to read this ancient thing he called...um...uh...sounded like...oh yeah, a map. This map thing shows me where everything is and so long as I am mobile with use of my hands and eyes, I am able to find my way from where I am to where I want to be. Cool huh? And it never runs out of batteries or needs a firmware update. Best part of all, its free.

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    • #3
      re: Disney Teaming with Verizon to enhance guest visits (Merged)

      Interesting that Verizon is in on this. They're usually not into cool stuff.

      So long as you can choose what alerts you get in the park, I think it would be useful: wait times would be the main thing I'd want, but reminders of show times or character appearances would be helpful for people, too.

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      • #4
        re: Disney Teaming with Verizon to enhance guest visits (Merged)

        Originally posted by bee1000 View Post
        Interesting that Verizon is in on this. They're usually not into cool stuff.

        So long as you can choose what alerts you get in the park, I think it would be useful: wait times would be the main thing I'd want, but reminders of show times or character appearances would be helpful for people, too.
        That's what I think too. Wait times, proximity of your favorite food, favorite character, etc. Doesn't suck and those who don't like it don't have to use it.
        It may have zippity to do with doo-dah :ccool:

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        • #5
          Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

          There's absolutely no need for this at all.

          Want to know where your favorite characters are or where the closest restaurant is? ASK A CAST MEMBER. I find it absolutely scary that people would rather trade away their privacy and talk to a computer than to ask another human being a simple question.

          If you want to know the wait times, walk to the attraction, or better yet walk to the hub. Don't be lazy. I remember a time when you picked which attraction you wanted to ride, walked over there and got in line without any idea how long it was going to take.

          The future is scary.

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          • #6
            Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

            The only real plus I can see out of this is the wait time app. You can waste a lot of time going back and forth trying to decide what you're willing to wait in. This way if people are at Splash Mountain, they can determine what the wait time is for Space Mountain without walking all the way over there. If they decide they'd rather not wait 60 minutes now, they can go straight to Big Thunder instead of walking all the way across the park, then walking all the way to something else. Some might call this laziness. I just call it practical.

            But as for the other stuff, get a map or ask a cast member.
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            • #7
              Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

              Ehh, I see no use for thise, especially because I am on AT&T. Anyway, there is a nice thing in the hub for this. You are never far from the hub. Also, Fastpasses are another way to do this. I dont want to wait 60 mintutes now, but what if the other ride I want to wait in are longer, or whatever. Fastpass it.

              When in doubt, Fastpass.
              We are currently imagineeing a new attraction for you!

              Please enjoy all the other attractions in fabulicious Vasooki-land! :yea:

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              • #8
                Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

                This is cool, the wait time option and location of restauraunds seems to be the best feature of the whole bit.. Though I wonder how much the app is goanna cost me as most of verizons phone applicatios aren't free.
                Everybody's got a laughin' place-
                trouble is most folks won't take the time to go look for it.

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                • #9
                  Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

                  Hmmm...makes me glad I have AT&T.
                  Crazy Works For Me!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

                    Originally posted by MrLiver View Post
                    There's absolutely no need for this at all.

                    Want to know where your favorite characters are or where the closest restaurant is? ASK A CAST MEMBER. I find it absolutely scary that people would rather trade away their privacy and talk to a computer than to ask another human being a simple question.

                    If you want to know the wait times, walk to the attraction, or better yet walk to the hub. Don't be lazy. I remember a time when you picked which attraction you wanted to ride, walked over there and got in line without any idea how long it was going to take.

                    The future is scary.
                    I remember those days... then they invented this thing called a phone. Now you can ask a CM to call a location and say the magic words "Hey what's your wait time?". Personally I could see a use for this as a reminder for specific show times/parades/reservations/character appearances. I can also see a use if you would like to be notified of when an attraction comes up from a downtime. I think it has it's uses, but overall I think people are too dependent on technology.
                    "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

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                    • #11
                      Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

                      Great! Just what we need in the Park... MORE cell phone usage!

                      We are Verizon customers, but you can bet your Mickey Ears that we will not participate in this deal.

                      :thumbdown

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                      • #12
                        re: Disney Teaming with Verizon to enhance guest visits (Merged)

                        IMO, this is all terribly unnecessary. Why can't we just go and have fun at Disneyland?

                        Why do we have to be notified that Matterhorn only has a 20 minute wait or that we should hurry over to POTC right now because their's only a 5 minute wait? "While your in the area, go to Cafe Orleans for some food."

                        Yeah, it's advanced technology, but so what? Let's just use the wait time board if we want and have a chill, non-stressful day at DL?
                        ap·pur·te·nant – adjective: appertaining or belonging; pertaining.

                        ...to Disneyland.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Disney Teaming with Verizom to enhance guest visits

                          Originally posted by MrLiver View Post
                          The future is scary.
                          Wall-E converted me to that belief.
                          ap·pur·te·nant – adjective: appertaining or belonging; pertaining.

                          ...to Disneyland.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            re: Disney Teaming with Verizon to enhance guest visits (Merged)

                            Originally posted by dl_appurtenant View Post
                            IMO, this is all terribly unnecessary. Why can't we just go and have fun at Disneyland?








                            Because some folks just can't live a day without their beloved high-tech gadgetry. They apparently do not feel complete unless they are "connected" to the outside world. And now in this case, INSIDE the DL world too.

                            It is very sad, actually...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              re: Disney Teaming with Verizon to enhance guest visits (Merged)

                              :/

                              sounds like it could be cool!
                              but if your looking down at your phone most of the visit it takes away the beauty of the park!

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