What do Splash Mountain, “it’s a small world,” and Pirates of the Caribbean all have in common? Well, they’re all in Magic Kingdom. And they’re all classic, popular rides. But they’re also all…
…WATER RIDES! They all present very unique ways in which water rides can be created — some are faster with drops, and others are slower with more family-friendly components. But the future of Disney’s water rides could look very different and they might just involve a certain character who has a strong connection to the water.
We already know that Disney is working on a Moana attraction in EPCOT — Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana. But this is, as we indicated, an attraction, not a moving ride. In EPCOT, you’ll soon get to experience a walk-through attraction based on this popular character.
But MORE Moana-themed attractions could be coming soon.
Disney has teased that a Moana-themed area could replace Dinoland U.S.A. in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the concept art for that area did appear to show 2 rides for the Moana-inspired land.
One of those teased attractions appears to be a boat ride (lower left corner), and a recent patent from Disney could show us what a Moana-themed boat ride (or just a Disney boat ride of the future) might look like!
In July of 2021, Disney filed a patent for a “Boat Motion Simulator” (patent # US 11,478,718) and the official date of the patent is October 25th, 2022. Within the patent, there are some drawings that could hint at what a potential future Moana-themed boat ride would be like.
Figure 7 included with the patent shows a boat in the middle of some water (identified as a boat with passengers floating on it), surrounded by a dome screen for show projection. And what’s on that screen in the left corner? Well, that looks quite a bit like Moana and Maui on a boat of their own!
So what exactly is going on with this patent? Well, the patent is for a boat motion simulator. Essentially, the system/simulator is meant to cause the passengers to feel boat-type motions (rolling, swaying, heaving, etc.). But the system is also meant to use buoyancy to vertically support the boat, so the boat still floats naturally in a simulator or system.
The system could also feature a display and sound system to display images or a soundtrack that syncs up to the motions on the boat.
In the patent application, Disney shared that while water rides are popular, they usually “do not meet the demand for new and surprising ways to entertain visitors because the type of experience these rides provide has not significantly changed since they were first introduced to parks many years ago.”
They note that typically people don’t experience a lot of the motion of the boat since the boats are designed to provide a smooth ride. But there could be demand for a water ride that features more traditional boat motions.
As an example, they note that a water ride could simulate some kind of “water battle, and a passenger boat may move between two battling ships.” The passenger boat could “be pitching and rolling with the waves, shuttering with the cannon fire, and listing to one side when it starts sinking.”
Older water rides couldn’t achieve that in a controlled and repeatable way, but this new technology could make it possible.
Disney shared that this technology could help guests (passengers on the boat) actually feel like they’re part of the action, rather than just “spectators of a show that happen to be in a boat.”
There’s a lot of technical explanation that goes into this — including descriptions of how the boat floats on the surface of the water and responds to tethers being reduced to pull the boat. But the real key here with that Moana image is the display and sound system.
In the patent, Disney explains that the simulator system could include a display and sound system to really engulf people in the imagery (including a 360-degree or wrap-around video).
There might be a ride, for example, that would have a single bay where only one vehicle is in the simulation space at a time. And there could even be 4D effects incorporated, like rain or splashing water, to really take things to the next level.
But then things get REALLY interesting! Disney notes that there could be a “passive experience” where you’re on a boat and you just “see and feel the action (such as sailing across an ocean with a film character) but are restrained in the boat.”
But things could get REALLY interactive if Disney creates an “active experience” with the boat simulation, where “passengers of the boat are free (e.g., unrestrained) to perform tasks on the boat.” They go on to explain that “This could include a pirate experience where passengers become the pirates or their targets and sail the ship on the high seas while experiencing the real feeling of being in the open waters due to operations of the motion assembly.”
Alright, now we’re TALKING! Disney notes that there could be just one vehicle in the space at a time, or maybe they’ll have multiple vehicles share a simulation space.
Disney notes, “This may be used to provide the passengers with an interactive experience where the passengers could decide which ‘side’ of a battle to be on (e.g., on the pirate side or the traveler side or vice versa).”
Okay, yes, sign us up. Let’s GO on this interactive pirate adventure in a boat simulator!
What do you think? How could you see this boat simulator technology used in the future? Tell us in the comments!
Keep in mind that while the patent application shows that image of the boat simulator with Moana and Maui on the display that does NOT mean that Disney is actually building a Moana-themed boat motion simulator ride. As of right now, the Moana area in Animal Kingdom has only been teased, and this imagery merely shows how the patent could be applied in the future. But still, it’s interesting to see how this tech could make its way into the theme parks at some point in the future.
For more amazing theme park patents check out the links below:
- See how a new invention could CHANGE rides at Universal Orlando
- Check out how guest safety could change at theme parks in the future
- 3D glasses could become obsolete in theme parks — see why!
And stay tuned for more news!
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What type of ride would you want to be made with this boat simulator? Tell us in the comments!