Disney Imagineers are storytellers above all else, so in developing the cruise line’s newest ship, aptly named the Wish, the team took full advantage of scaffolding their stories with cutting-edge technology.
Guests will kick off their cruising experience with an app that allows them to access the Disney Uncharted Adventure as a way of starting their magical experience before they set sail. A greeting from Mickey and Minnie will include a story about the wishing star, which capitalizes on the brand slogan “When you wish upon a star.” The app will transform guests’ cellphones into an “enchanted spyglass” to aid in the coming adventure.
Upon accessing the app again once onboard, guests will learn the wishing star has broken into pieces, each of which is embedded in a different world. They must go on a quest to help find it. Each storyline will have Disney characters leading passengers to diverse areas of the ship where the spyglass will turn the physical into something more — for instance, enchanted paintings will reveal cooperative activities, like making gumbo with Tiana or capturing the Kakamora with Moana.
Unlike prior interactive activities available throughout the Disney properties — the resort-wide scavenger hunt at the Aulani in Hawaii is one — the key differences are that this begins at booking, the reactive tech can help spread passengers out on the ship when multiple groups participate at once, and the finale shifts this from an individual and family activity to a full ship affair.
The Uncharted Adventure is designed to fit in around other activities on the Wish, and guests will be welcome at the finale no matter how many quests they have (or haven’t) completed as everyone works together to defeat Ursula and return the wishing star to its rightful place in the sky.
The confirmed character guides are Moana, Nemo, Tiana and Peter Pan. The extensive design work didn’t stop with deciding which characters to use, but how to fully integrate them while staying true to their established looks and personalities. Imagineers leaned heavily on line weights, shading and lighting to balance the characters’ movie looks with their onboard presence.
Davey Feder, software product manager, emphasizes what’s key is that the technology isn’t used for the sake of tech, but in conjunction with a storytelling experience that could only take place in this particular setting.
Keeping the goal to “find the fun” in mind, the Imagineering team worked to create elements within the quests that would be enjoyable, even when they were tested with the most basic of prototypes. The theory was that if the games were engaging with very simple renderings, adding the tech would later only enhance guest experiences, rather than relying on the tech to create the amusement.
Feder explains the working theory is that well-integrated tech should help the Imagineers tell Disney stories. If it instead screams out “look at this” then it isn’t the method best suited for the storytelling after all.
Once the discussion becomes the augmented reality or any of the other similar aspects of the Uncharted Adventure, then they haven’t created a fully realized narrative solidly grounded in the world of the Wish. In this way, the Wish is an equal character in the adventure at hand with its very infrastructure responding to the guests.
Additional news from Disney comes ahead of the brands’ official announcement: the AquaMouse water attraction will have not one, but two separate storylines that guests can see when they go on the giant waterslide.
While other ships have water slides onboard, the AquaMouse on the Wish will use its 75-second incline to show guests one of two animated shorts: the Swiss Meltdown or the Scuba Scramble. The stories won’t run on loops but will be triggered by the ride vehicle — a two-person inner tube — for each of the seven-second snippets. A series of more than 60 spray nozzles embedded in the walls of the ride are synced to the music of Emmy nominated composer Christopher Willis.
With so little time, each moment had to count. Stories were written and animated in the style of the original Mickey shorts as a way of honoring the brand’s history with the look, while remaining relevant now. Eagle-eyed guests will be able to spot Chip and Dale making cameos.
Cruise dates and itineraries are already available for the Wish, though it isn’t scheduled to set sail until June 2022.
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