Starting March 20th, if a guest purchases or renews a Walt Disney World Annual Pass they will receive an RFID Pass. These passes will allow guests to enter the parks via the Nex-Gen turnstiles. If you have an existing Annual Pass and would like to change it over to the new RFID system, you can go to the Odyssey Center in EPCOT between March 20, 2013 and May 19, 2013. All passes will have a green background and a stripe will be included on it to indicate whether or not it is entitled to free parking. If a pass has free parking it will have an orange stripe, if it doesn’t it will have a black stripe.
THINK presented by IBM has opened in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot® at the Walt Disney World® Resort
The exhibit combines three unique experiences to engage visitors in a conversation about how we can improve the way we live and work. For more information about visiting the exhibit.
Explore the process of progress through interactives, games and film.
Learn through play by interacting with a 40 foot gesture wall visualizing the complex systems around us.
Be inspired by the possibilities and history of progress while watching the THINK film.
Explore the elements of progress, Seeing, Mapping,
Understanding, Believing, and Acting through dynamic interactives.
Visitors approaching the exhibit are drawn in by striking patterns displayed on a 40-foot gesture wall. The wall tells the stories of systems around us, transforming into an interactive space where visitor movement creates unique visualizations in dynamic shapes and color. To illustrate complex systems that are a part of daily life the wall also visualizes data from traffic, solar energy, and air quality.
Further inside the exhibit space, visitors discover a theater space featuring a 12-minute immersive film. A kaleidoscope of images and sound fill the large screen. They are enveloped in a rich narrative about the pattern of progress, told through awe-inspiring stories of the past and present. The film reveals how progress was made possible by a combination of people and technology, and by taking a distinct approach to making the world work better — seeing, mapping, understanding, believing and acting. Guests are inspired to think about humankind’s quest for progress, and about making our world work better, today.
Visitors explore a media field composed of 20 seven-foot interactive touchscreens, transforming the space into a forest of discovery. Visitors can explore our quest to see more-from clocks and scales to microscopes and telescopes, RFID chips and biomedical sensors. They learn how maps have been used to track data, from early geographical maps to the most recent databases and data visualization platforms. They interact with the models used to understand the complex behaviors of our world-from weather prediction algorithms to virus spread simulations. They hear from leaders of world-changing initiatives about how they built belief. And they read about some of the most inspiring examples of systemic progress around the world.
Over the course of the next month the Walt Disney World Resort will be installing “touch to pay” RFID readers at all of its merchandise and sales locations which accept the Disney Resort room key charge (except valet, laundry, and arcade locations in the resorts.)
Beginning in December a phased roll-out of the program will begin with select resorts having their guests create a pin-number at the time of check in. By the end of January all resorts are expected to be live on the program with touch-to-pay capabilities on all room key cards with charging privileges.
This is the first step in the RFID NextGen integration, which will be followed by conversion to the wristband system replacing room keys cards and ticket media in the coming months.
Disney recently revealed their plans to have the Be Our Guest restaurant make extensive use of their new RFID systems for the lunch period.
Guests visiting the location for the quick-service lunch will be handed an RFID rose the size of a hockey puck. This rose will function as a group identifier for the guest’s order and track their party as they travel through the restaurant. Guests will frist take their rose to the ordering kiosk – tap the Mickey head of the rose to the Mickey head of the sales kiosk (lower left of photo) to identify themselves to the system.
Then they will use the touch screen to complete their full order if paying with credit, giftcard, or a Disney dining plan. They will then go to a self-service beverage area and then be seated in the dining hall with their rose-at-hand. The rose will identify to the servers who bring the food to the tables where the party has chosen to sit and thus the food will be delivered in a timely and seemingly magical manner to the proper location.
Guests choosing to pay with cash or vouchers will have the option of going through the same process with a pair of cash registers located in the same gallery as the rose-encoding kiosks. Also, with the way the system works, once RFID wristband ticket media is up and functioning the roses-pucks themselves will not be needed and guests can merely scan their wristband when placing their order instead of the rose-puck.
As charming as this is, Be Our Guest has already begun to run into some major issues during their few test dining periods. The building was designed and redesigned hastily during the construction process with the interior locations being reworked and the type of service the restaurant would offer – both full and quick service – changing more than once during the construction period. This had led to the kitchen being smaller than needed and the workers utterly frustrated with the situation. There’s no place to store hot prepared foods and everything else is choked by a lack of proper workspace. The 580-something seat location is strained because it has a kitchen equipped to serve far less than that.
For the time being, Disney having their staff work late into night “rehearsing” workarounds to the problems caused by the improperly designed facilities. Early test meals have been, at best, a small fiasco with food coming out wrong, taking forever, and not being properly prepared or even served with the right accompaniments. Thankfully this is what testing is designed for and hopefully something can be worked out – or rebuilt – lest the staff be forced to endure all night rehearsals of choreographing movement in the wonky space.
There’s been a lot of buzz on the wire lately over Disney’s filings with the FCC for their NextGen wristbands that will replace paper tickets at the Walt Disney World resort. These wristbands will replace tickets not only for resort guests, but eventually all guests including passholders. The new system obvious requires new turnstiles, which Epcot has been quietly installing for the last few weeks at the front entrance. Today, however, concrete proof that the work was on the turnstiles electrical systems to support the NextGen project and not some other upgrade in the area was provided with their latest permit.
Epcot was the park which tested the NextGen RFID-chipped turnstiles (the same system contained within the wristbands). During the test, guests arriving from the parking lot were segregated from guests arriving by Disney buses or monorail and had their tickets “chipped.” This process involved putting an RFID sticker on the paper ticket and pairing it with the ticket data. These guests then proceeded to enter using the new turnstiles and the RFID system. A similar process will likely be implemented to transfer existing paper tickets into wristbands when the time comes. It’s a relatively simple and painless process as dozens of Cast Members were assigned handheld tablets to scan and link the old paper tickets to the new RFID chips. It’s simply a matter of using wristbands now instead of stickers with RFID chips in them.
The new NextGen system should support park entry, resort purchases, FASTPASS+, and room keys all on the wristband unit. Further technology to make rides and shows interact with guests based on their personal information (name, event related to trip like birthday, etc..) should come online in the future. The wristbands are to come in a variety of colors, the FCC filing showing the basic silver band, with guests able to buy upgraded wristbands with Disney character and theme park designs as keepsakes. These designer bands are to be heavily marketed to annual passholders.
We all knew it was coming, but we didn’t want to believe it. Recently the scanners for the forthcoming Fastpass+ system were installed at Epcot’s iconic Spaceship earth attraction.
The new system allows guests to reserve ride-times at various attractions prior to arriving at the Walt Disney World resort. The complexities of the system and the apparent anticipated demand has caused Disney to add the Fastpass+ system to many attractions that previously were never even considered candidates for the original Fastpass program. Spaceship Earth, being a quick loading omnimover, was one such case. Also, the complex geometric queue that zigzag around the base of the sphere lends its own problems in preventing one line bypassing the other.
Spaceship Earth was designed to load two queues at once – that’s not the problem. The left and right queues could be originally employed to send guests up the dual ramps toward the loading area that haven’t been used in years and all would be fine. However, that would mean only half of the queue would be used or that Fastpass+ guests would have to wait in what is essentially half of the hard geometric zigzag queue – about 30 minutes.
As with all new Fastpass+ installations there are two pairs of scanners installed now at Spaceship Earth. We don’t know their finale design aesthetic, but we expect them to match the stylistic look of the icon as the ones recently tested in the Magic Kingdom have favorably supported their surroundings. At the same time, the placement of the scanners leaves us baffled. Guests move from one pair to the next in the Fastpass+ queue, the exact purpose of this movement not quite explained yet – we assume it to be akin to the initial Fastpass “time check” and and final “merge and ticket take” that occurs in current Fastpass queues. Since Fastpass+ has no paper tickets and relies on the RFID scanners, we assume the second set of scanners is the intended merge point where they can re-verify the validity of the Fastpass+ pass and merge the Fastpass+ and standby line.
This is why we’re baffled. First off, Spaceship Earth has two ramps so that it can do dual-channel loading. One line of guests canload into lead vehicles from one “Grouper” on the load platform while the second line can load into follow vehicles from the second Grouper. That’s how it should work, in theory, with the Grouper’s alternating the guest queues to fill all the available spots and readying the parties before they set foot on the platform. It’s labor intensive but can get Spaceship Earth up to its 2400 guest per hour operating capacity. There is a reason Spaceship Earth was the reigning “most ridden attraction in the World” for years.
So as you can see, the placement has Fastpass+ guests enter from what is roughly what is the front and center of the queue and then follow some unknown route to then return to the central point at the base of the ramp apparently from the eastern side of the queue. This suggests they intend to merge the lines before they go up the ramp into a single line. This is understandable, though not really the best use of Spaceship Earth’s unique loading area. More baffling though is how they intend to get Fastpass+ guests through the eastern half of the queue and to the merge point. Perhaps more extensive reworking of the entire eastern queue remains to be seen. Having the the two queue lines cross each other’s path with a cast member function as a traffic cop doesn’t seem at all reasonable, but perhaps it’s a solution Disney finally accepted as having to occur in this instance.
IBM’s THINK was an interactive “pop up” technology exhibit at Lincoln Center in the fall on 2011 that explored the role of technology in improving our daily lives and the world we live in. The exhibit included videos, touch screen maps, interactive media panels and mobile applications. The most visible element of the exhibit was the large digital wall, stretching 123 feet outside the converted parking garage of Lincoln Center on Columbus Avenue.
The digital wall visualized real-time live streaming data from the surrounding areas including traffic on Broadway, solar energy use on the Upper West Side, and air quality throughout Manhattan. The billboard-sized digital display showed how we use the world around us and illuminates on a local scale the many opportunities for changes to be made.
Visitors inside the exhibit were immersed in a film and interactive experience across 40 oversized digital screens. Cited for its design, the THINK exhibit has been placed in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and received awards from the Industrial Designers Society of America, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, and the Art Directors Club.
Later this year, the exhibit will be installed at Epcot in Walt Disney World. Below is a preview of award winning exhibit as it was displayed in New York….
A unique interactive experience
Consider the advances of the past century. The way science has improved our daily lives. The possibilities unleashed by technology. The things we can do today that earlier generations could not even imagine.
Yes, this is about better information, tools, algorithms—but that’s not all. It’s about the deeply human quest to make the world more livable, safer, more efficient, more sustainable.
Over the past century, the women and men of IBM have played a part in this unfolding story of progress. Today, we feel more confident than ever in people’s capacity to see the world with greater clarity… to map what we see… to understand its dynamics. All of which builds shared belief… in a better future, and in the way each of us can act to make it so.
On this, our 100th anniversary, we wanted to share some lessons we’ve learned. The THINK exhibit is an exploration into how the world works and how to make it work better.
Visitors approaching the exhibit were drawn in by striking patterns displayed on a 123-foot digital wall. The wall visualizes, in real time, the live data streaming from the systems surrounding the exhibit, from traffic on Broadway, to solar energy, to air quality. Visitors discovered how we can now see change, waste and opportunities in the world’s systems.
Inside the exhibit space, visitors stepped into a media field composed of 40 seven-foot screens. As the screens came to life, visitors discovered a 12-minute immersive film. A kaleidoscope of images and sound surrounded them. They were enveloped in a rich narrative about the pattern of progress, told through awe-inspiring stories of the past and present. They were inspired to think about humankind’s quest for progress, and about making our world work better, today.
At the conclusion of the film, the 40 media panels became interactive touchscreens, transforming the space into a forest of discovery. Visitors could explore our quest to see more—from clocks and scales to microscopes and telescopes, RFID chips and biomedical sensors. They learned how maps have been used to track data, from early geographical maps to the most recent databases and data visualization platforms. They interacted with the models used to understand the complex behaviors of our world—from weather prediction algorithms to virus spread simulations. They heard from leaders of world-changing initiatives about how they built belief. And they read about some of the most inspiring examples of systemic progress around the world. Each touchscreen also gave visitors the opportunity to provide their point of view and learn what others were thinking.
An approach to making the world work better
While each leap of progress requires its own intelligence, work, and courage, many of them are the result of a distinct, repeatable pattern. The THINK exhibit explores how progress is shaped through a common and systematic approach.
For much of human history, we had just five senses to measure the world around us. As our curiosity grew, we built measurement tools, from clocks and scales to microscopes and telescopes. Now, billions of technological sensors and sophisticated imaging devices are capturing massive amounts of data about every imaginable phenomenon. For the first time ever, we can see in great detail into the natural and manmade systems that make up our world.
All the information we’re collecting becomes much more effective when it’s organized. We’ve used maps to organize data for millennia. Throughout history, maps have revealed patterns in what appeared to be chaos, inspired explorers, and guided development and innovation. Now, our maps are more powerful and insightful than ever. They’re dynamic, multi-dimensional, and collaborative. Today’s mapping platforms give us the ability to organize and express information about any facet from every perspective—in real time.
To improve the world’s systems, we must first understand why they behave the way they do. That means untangling the actions of thousands of component parts. It’s not possible to do this on brainpower alone. Which is why we always built models—from physical prototypes to mathematical calculations. Now we have new tools to see into the future in a less risky manner. Supercomputers, analytics software, and networking technologies allow us to simulate the behavior and interactions of vast systems. We can now virtually explore ideas and hypotheses that were too dangerous or even impossible to test until now.
Change is easy. It happens by itself. Progress, on the other hand, is deliberate. It won’t take root until someone believes it’s possible and convinces others that action will be worth the effort. This takes perseverance and the ability to convince skeptics to overcome the status quo. Conviction and willpower are necessary to foster belief. But technology has a role as well. Reliable data, timely maps and effective simulations can all help reveal the path to progress.
No single individual can cure cancer. No one person will ever solve traffic congestion or mitigate water pollution or build a more efficient supply chain. Sustainable progress requires massive coordination, cooperation, perpetual monitoring and automation. It takes teamwork and technology to manage complexity. Acting is never over, because our systems are alive. But when we wrangle one, we learn about the others. Making progress is extraordinarily difficult, but the more we do it, the more we learn, and the easier it becomes.
Disney has announced today that the Art of Animation Resort will be opening its wings in the following order:
Finding Nemo (Grand opening) – Opens May 31
Cars – Opens June 18
Lion King – Opens August 10
Little Mermaid – Opens September 15
And if this all isn’t good and well exciting enough – Ok, for most of us who has been to a Disney resort, it really isn’t – there’s now been hard hat tours of the resort site. These tours have revealed that the Art of Animation Resort is going to be the first to deploy the all-important RFID-embedded Room Keys.
What are those? Why are they important? Remember this?
That’s a wristband room key from the DizFanatic article back in August of 2011 that detailed in-depth the whole NextGen project. Disney essentially made a internal video about what “NextGen” was going to be and DizFantatic got their hands on a copy so the world found out what NextGen was – wristbands. The future was wristbands, in particular, wristband room keys.
Well, now we know it wasn’t hot air because we saw the turnstiles tested at Epcot in November of 2011. We even had little RFID chips stuck to our tickets!
RFID and the NextGen project really is going to mean a whole new way to experience the Walt Disney World Resort. Little by little Disney has been installing NextGen systems at existing attractions. The wristbands are just part of the new systems, allowing ticket-like access.
The bigger data-based back end of the system will allow a new version of FASTPASS to be introduced into the parks and that’s really what seems to be next down the pipeline. Disney has been modifying attraction queues at a fevered pace since last fall. Most attractions should be ready for the system for an October 1st, 2012 roll-out per the paperwork Disney has filed.
Will the Art of Animation Resort guests be the first to experience the NextGen experience in the parks? That remains to be seen, but it seems likely at this point. The resort will have the technology in place and will be using it, it’s simply a matter of when the parks will be ready to flip the switch on their end.
Much has been made of the forthcoming NextGen project at Walt Disney World and ideas like XPass, interactive queues, wristband RFID tickets, and customized experiences have been theorized from the outside by many a member of the online Disney community.
Well, now we’ve got some actual names and places. Disney has begun filing work permits for existing locations they intend to integrate as part of the NextGen project. The work is commonly described as “queue modification” on the paperwork, but the most telling aspect is the project completion date: October 1st, 2012.
The following attractions have had paperwork filed for these purposes recently:
- Spaceship Earth
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends (entitled “The Living Seas” on the paperwork)
- The Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Kali River Rapids
- Expedition Everest
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Fantasmic Amphitheater
- Theater of the Stars (Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage)
The list of attractions and locations may expand in the coming months, but expect to see the first phases of this project fully functional for guests by October 1st, 2012. Additionally, the Theater of the stars venue is notable for also having paperwork listing its expansion – suggesting the Beauty and Beast show will soon end its run and be replaced with a larger and more involved experience by October 2012.
We’ll admit it internet. We’re baffled. Earlier this week Disney sent of this decree to warn it’s Cast Members that something was going to be happening at the Test Track attraction in Epcot:
We often test new concepts and technologies in our parks as part of our ongoing innovation process to make the entire Guest experience even better. As part of that effort, we will be testing a new technology at Epcot at Test Track, December 6-7. The technology we are testing may or may not end up as part of our park offerings
We sent out an all-points-bulletin to the twitterverse and got some interesting data. We have no idea what to make of the information about the “testing” that people who experienced it have reported back. Not even the Cast Members at the attraction seem to know what was going on or why. Here’s the raw data for your analysis:
Guests entering the building through the FastPass line were given these random white cards to carry through the queue and attraction:
To clarify – those aren’t FLIK cards which are used to measure the average wait time of the attraction. What do they do? We don’t know, but a few CM’s at the attraction were willing to use the word RFID in reference to the cards. This does seem like a likely part of the overall RFID technology push Disney pursuing in the parks.
As our awesome twitter pal informed us:
@thejrt you scan the card once at start of queue, before briefing room, and before you enter the car. Collected after ride. All RFID.
This is what the RFID scanner thingy looks like. This one was located just before boarding the attraction:
Why…? For what purpose? We’re still not sure. If you have any idea what this technology is being used for and what exactly was being tested – we’d love to know! The comments are always a good place to start, but if you want some privacy you can use the “contact us” page as well