Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Will the future WDS Ratatouille attraction use a GPS ride system, or a " LPS " system, or something else...

Since i've mentioned it in a previous post, everybody is talking about the future Ratatouille attraction for the Walt Disney Studios . Some days later the excellent Lauphing place.com web site released more infos about it, and in the forums everybody look excited about this future WDS addition.

One of the reason is because of the trackless technique that will be use. The Ratatouille attraction is supposed to use the same system that WDI imagineers used for the Winnie the Pooh attraction in Tokyo. Which, for everybody is an attraction using GPS. But is it really the case? I mean, is the TDL Winnie the Pooh attraction REALLY using a GPS system to control the vehicles?

May be not, if we believe this well informed Wikipedia article about the attraction. Here is what they say:

Although track-based traditional dark rides based on Pooh do exist at Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and the Magic Kingdom, Pooh's Hunny Hunt is a different attraction entirely and is exclusive to Tokyo Disneyland.


The ride vehicles are fashioned to resemble honey pots; though these pots have wheels, they are completely hidden, giving the pots the appearance of "gliding" across the show scene's floors. Traditionally, dark ride vehicles are guided along an easily-visible track, and move at a (more or less) constant speed. The Pooh's Hunny Hunt vehicles have no visible means of guidance and appear to move through the attraction independently. Wildly stopping, starting, reversing direction, and even spinning, giving the ride its trademark whimsical and dreamlike visuals.


This 'trackless' ride system is achieved not by GPS, as widely rumored, but by a custom LPS (local positioning system). The patented system works by directional data being relayed from a master control computer directly to each individual honey pot car through a complicated matrix embedded within the actual floor tiles. Every few seconds, the master computer generates a random path and ‘steers’ the honey pot in real-time, so as the cars roll through the ride the vehicles are, in fact, being told where to go. Because this system is in real-time, they can maneuver accordingly in just fractions of a second. This also allows for spontaneous yet synchronized ‘honey pot choreography’ with groups of honey pots (as many as 8 in a single show scene) appearing to ‘dance’ with the others, often timed with ‘beats’ in the music. Due to limitless variations possible, each journey through the attraction is unique.

Other LPS Uses

Aquatopia (at Tokyo DisneySea just next door) is the only other ride in the world to use this groundbreaking ride technology. It is unknown if this ride system will ever be built outside of Tokyo, although a ride based on Disney's Beauty and the Beast using the LPS system (teacups instead of honey pots) was designed by WDI before Hunny Hunt, yet still remains unbuilt. Pooh's Hunny Hunt has been rumored at having a budget of around $130 million, although this cost included the development and testing of the never-before-built LPS ride system.

So, we've learned something: no GPS, but LPS , and this is what should be use in the Ratatouille attraction........although another rumor is saying that WDI was recently investigating a trackless system used by a company at an amusement park in Oregon or Washington or somewhere around there. The Imagineers seems to look for a trackless system without the headaches and expenses that the TDL Pooh attraction has...

If the imagineers finally choose a new system, let's hope that it will work as well as the LPS one they've used at TDL and TDS. Pleeease, no cheap version on this awaited attraction......

So, which system will be finally use by WDI imagineers in the Ratatouille attraction? I'm afraid we will have to wait for the opening to get the answer!

Photo: copyright Disney-Pixar


Ryan P. Wilson said...

A similar system is in place in Walt Disney World’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, though when referenced there it is called an Autonomous Guided Vehicle, or AGV. The ride path is pre-programmed into the vehicle’s computers which communicate through a RF, or wireless frequency, with the Ride Control System. According to www.towerofterror.org this is the same technology in place at Tokyo Disneyland’s Pooh’s Honey Hutt.

Dr Bitz said...

As you point out, the TDL Pooh ride system was first based on Aquatopia, but eventually it was greatly modified to adapt for dark ride use and became it's own hybrid. The timing of each block zone was very tight and made for lots of early glitches, but they were ironed out the first year. Earlier systems you mention were most likely closer the ones used in Tower or Energy at EPCOT.

Today, I'm sure the TDL Pooh type system could be done simpler and still retain the functionality. I believe that because of that unique ride system, Pooh in TDL was able to remain as most popular attraction longer than any other new E Ticket in TDL's history. It's great to hear that the technology is under consideration as i think it's the "next level" in dark rides.

Anonymous said...

It is, in fact, simply impossible to use GPS for this. Firstly GPS isn't accurate enough, since I'm pretty sure WDI needs a system that's accurate to the centimeter, if not milimeter. Secondly, it isn't reliable enought (ride would shut down if signal is lost even for a fraction of a second). If you think about it, GPS reception is pretty lousy already inside a building. Imagine how that would be inside of a huge darkride building (which have no windows). It simply has now advantages to use GPS. GPS is fine for global positioning, but a darkride building is pretty local.. ;)

steve2wdw said...

Could the Beauty and the Beast ride mentioned (teacups instead of honey pots) be heading to WDW MK? With the Little Mermaid ride rumor for MK, there was also mention of a BatB ride. With a Ratatouille based attraction in the pipeline for WDS, it wouldn't surprise me if they put all these trackless systems in developement at the same time.

Anonymous said...

steve2wdw - I would be suprised if the WDW MK got a tea cup style BatB ride. I think it is more likely that DLRP might get the planned (back in the 90's) BatB live/animatronic show (which sounded amazing) and if DLRP get it, I'm sure WDW would as well (means costs would be reduced)

Of course I'm guessing here but there was a hint recently about a BatB attraction finaly being built in DLRP.

Alain - have you heard anything else about the Ratatouille ride like the queue theming and exterior of the building? I really really hope they add the fountain and Gusteaus' restaurant and not just stick it in another 'studio' like with Crush.

Alain Littaye said...

Unfortunately i don't know more - yet - about the Ratatouille attraction. But, don't worry, i'm pretty sure it won't be like Crush coaster, but much much better, at least for the inside.