Move over Mickey, drones are heading to Disney

Walt Disney World guests may soon come for the rides, but stay for the drone shows. Just this week, MarketWatch revealed that the entertainment giant had applied for three drone-related patents, each seemingly hinting that Disney would be incorporating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into all of their magic. According to the report, the three California-based imagineers who applied for the patents were Clifford Wong, James Alexander Stark and Robert Scott Trowbridge, each of them true Makers behind the elaborate attractions at Disney’s theme parks.


One patent application cites a system in which marionettes or helium-filled balloons could be tethered to and controlled by a fleet of synchronized drones, instead of the traditional puppeteer or handler on the ground. “The inventors recognized that presently there are no mechanisms for creating very large aerial displays such as a display that is reusable/repeatable, dynamic, and interactive,” the patent explains. Can you imagine Aladdin perched atop a drone piloted flying carpet? Or, Dumbo crisscrossing the skies with his floppy ears supported by two UAVs? With these new patents on file, massive aerial balloons during Main Street USA parades could soon become a technology of the past.


“There remains a need for new technologies for generating aerial displays such as a display involving projection of light and images into or out of the sky or an air space above an audience of spectators,” another patent reads. Let’s face it, there’s nothing at Disney quite as magical as its renowned firework and light shows, an area in which could be enhanced through the use of UAVs.

According to Disney’s inventors, the drones would be used to light up with their own display screens, each acting as single pixels in a digital light show, flashing colors to mimic fireworks. Just think of even how more impressive Disney’s Fantasmic can get if these flying robots were involved!


Could drones improve park safety, entertainment value, and attendance? The answer is yet to be determined, but there is no doubt that Disney is willing to take to the skies to find out! Pending all goes well, you may soon find a giant-sized Mickey or Nemo flying through the parks.

Embodying DIY spirit to the max, Disney’s imagineers are no strangers to using complex machinery to create spectacles. In fact, Disney is the Presenting Sponsor of the upcoming World Maker Faire in New York, and we are proud to be featured alongside the creative corporation as a Silversmith Sponsor at this year’s event.

3 thoughts on “Move over Mickey, drones are heading to Disney

  1. Pingback: Richard Branson explains why everyone’s talking about drones | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  2. Pingback: Video: Cirque du Soleil dances with drones | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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