Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fireworks over the Parking Lot

As you know, I usually do pictorial articles, but today I will tell you a little story. Fifteen years ago, I was journalist for french magazines, and I was invited to a Disney press event at Walt Disney World. I think that story take place during WDW 25th Anniversary event, but I'm not sure... Anyway, during this WDW press trip I met a WDI Imagineer, and, at the end of the conversation - probably answering my question about what he was working on at that time - he told me that he was in a team working on a new kind of fireworks. And, if I could be on the Disney Mgm parking lot that night, around midnight, they will do some top secret fireworks test, so I could have a look at it.

For sure, i said yes - or something like "you bet i'll be there!" and hours later, there i was, arriving near the Disney Mgm parking lot, totally empty as the park closed two hours before.

As I didn't saw anybody - i expected to meet again the Imagineer - I went to the security office who asked me what I was doing there. I explained them the whole story, they told me they were not aware about it, but probably because they saw in my eyes I was telling the truth, one of the security officer - I remember it was a woman - proposed to drive me to the parking lot in her car.

So, there we are, finally on the parking lot, and, if we except the car I was in, only two other cars were there, waiting for the launch of this top-secret fireworks test. The fireworks began, with some big "bangs" louder than usual, and some minutes later it was over. The other cars moved out of the parking lot, and then the one I was in.

I remember I was a bit dubvious about this top secret fireworks, if not disappointed...Some days later, I had more explanation about it. In fact, Disney - at that time - was doing some researchs with the Los Alamos Atomic center. If the words "Los Alamos" are familiar to you, it's probably because it's there that the first Atomic bombs were created, more than 60 years ago! No need to say that the engineers of Los Alamos are guys who knows what the word "powder" means...

And why Disney and the Los Alamos Atomic Center were they doing these fireworks researchs? For two reasons - although there may be others that I'm not aware of: The first one was to have a louder "bang" when a rocket explodes, and the second one was to have the most "silent" possible "bang". Why that? Because of cities. I mean, cities who are all around theme parks like it is the case in Anaheim or Disneyland Paris. The "bang" noise can be a problem for inhabitants all around, trying to sleep peacefully - it's one of the reasons why there is no fireworks every night at Disneyland Paris except during Christmas and summer holiday season ( the other reason is the cost ). But at WDW, this is not a problem, and louder and more spectacular "bangs" could be welcome.

So, you see, all these researchs with the Los Alamos Atomic Center had some sense...

The story doesn't end here. If I'm not wrong, they did try these "silent" fireworks at DLP, until they realised that it was may be a bit too silent for the guests as the rockets "bangs" are also part of the excitement. So, as all Disney fireworks have music which is played with it, for a while they thought about including "bangs" sound with the music diffused in the loud speakers all around Main Street and Central Plaza, so the guests will hear the "bangs" but not the villages all around the park.

I suppose they realised that all this "bang" story was close to become ridiculous, and now the fireworks bangs that guests can hear at DLP are real one, coming from the exploding rockets.

There is still one mystery: who were the people in the two other cars on the Disney Mgm parking lot that night? I had the answer the next day, and guess who it was? Michael Eisner himself - at that time Disney CEO - who, along with Imagineers from the research team came to have a look at this top secret fireworks!

That's the end of part one of this fireworks story. Here is part two: Now, if i tell you that in a not-so-distant future may be each WDW guest could have his own fireworks over his car at WDW parking lots ( or DLP, or DLR ) , will you believe me? Okay, to be honest, may be it will be more a kind of "virtual" fireworks than real one... How could this happen? thanks to an idea of a designer from Yanko Design. The goal? to help people find their car on a parking lot, thanks to a "holographic fireworks" projected over your car! No kidding.

Here is what Yanko Design Mac Funamizu designer say about it:

Fireworks Help Find Your Car

Every time I get out of a car I yell to my friends the exact floor, side, and column it’s located on. Two hours later we’re all wandering around trying to find it. Constantly clicking the remote keyless entry doesn’t help unless you’re within audible distance. I need something bigger, something I can’t miss. How about fireworks?

The Fireworks Locator system by futurist with a sense of humor Mac Funamizu uses holographic projection technology to set off a display of lights and color you can’t miss.

A remote activates an emitter installed on the top of your vehicle. That’s pretty much it. Feasibility aside, I could totally see Honda using this idea in one of their future ads. Imagine hundreds of Hondas creating an unforgettable light show.

Although i'm not sure the technology is fully available now, i like the poetic idea of a holographic fireworks over my car at a WDW parking lot! If one day it becomes real, they better have fireworks with different coulours for each car, because, if all fireworks looks the same, it won't resolve the problem! Anyway, may be it's only a designer's dream, but let's hope it can become real in the future...

FInally, as we talk about fireworks, less expensive and available now for all IPhone owners, the IFireworks App from the ITunes App Store allows you to create your own virtual fireworks over WDW Cinderella Castle - and for $0.99 - a very reasonable price!

Photos: copyright Yanko Design-Mac Funamizu and IFireworks

So, what do you think about this holographic fireworks idea to help you find your car? Would you like to have this amazing technology - if it's someday available - on your car?


Matt said...

The technology is there, but hasn't filtered down to the general public yet - for many reasons.

I could see this type of thing being a nice add-on - not to mention, incentive - for rental cars.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I love your blog so much :D I am linking some images to my students that are designing interactive games to get inspiration!!