Disney World debuts new castle projection show


Walt Disney World’s marketing push for 2011 is all about making memories, and the theme park behemoth put more than 500 of them on display on its most famous icon, Cinderella Castle, Tuesday night.

A new nighttime show, called “The Magic, The Memories and You” was previewed for media at the Magic Kingdom near Orlando, Florida.

The show features images captured daily by Disney’s PhotoPass photographers – those guys and gals who ask you to stop so they can take your picture – and projected on to Cinderella Castle in a show set to music. At least, that’s what I was expecting. What I saw was way more elaborate than that.

Through the use of animation from 16 different projectors, the castle’s turrets spin, vines wind up its walls, and flames engulf it, all while photos dance across the facade. It’s visually stunning, dramatic, and, well, a bit trippy. One guest at the media preview said the show reminded him of performances of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”“It’s a heck of a lot more than a slideshow on a castle,” said Alan Bruun, associate creative director for Walt Disney World Entertainment.

The 10-minute show features familiar Disney tunes threaded around a new song named, aptly, “Let the Memories Begin.”

Show producers started by digitally mapping the castle, to ensure a truly 3D projection on its facade. The castle projection show was then storyboarded as if it were a short film, Bruun said. Animators made the story boards come to life, creating slots for 500 photos from that day in the park.

The 500 photos are hand-selected and cropped, but a computer ultimately decides which photo goes into which slot in the show.

“It’s an amazing and complex process,” Bruun said. “But it involves just as much high-touch as it does high-tech, as individuals select those photograhs before the computer populates the castle with them.”

While there are some large projections, many of the photos are used in photo-mosaic images, and are on the small side. So, you may not be able to pick yours out as they move quickly by. And if you’re worried about photo privacy at Disney, you can opt out and keep your photo from being considered for the show.

“The Magic, The Memories and You” will be projected onto Cinderella Castle each night, twice a night when the park stays open late.

A similar projection show will debut at Disneyland in California on Jan. 27. It will be projected onto the facade of the It’s a Small World ride.

Disney photo privacy questions raised by new ‘Let the Memories Begin’ campaign

Disney photo privacy questions raised by new show

Walt Disney World and Disneyland are inviting guests to share their Disney Parks memories in the form of photos, video and stories submitted to a Disney Web site as part of a 2011 marketing campaign called “Let the Memories Begin.” Videos shot by Disney visitors are being used in TV commercials for the theme parks.

And a key component of the new marketing campaign starts early this year, when Disney will begin projecting images of guests in the park that day on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World and on It’s A Small World at Disneyland.

So, how will those images be chosen, and what if you don’t want your larger-than-life likeness shown?

Disney says the up to 500 photos used daily will be provided by Disney PhotoPass Photographers, those guys and gals who stop you and ask to take your picture at various scenic locations throughout Disney’s theme parks.

You will be able to opt out and keep your photo out of the nightly show, Disney tells the Orlando Sentinel. That’s a smart move for a company using the images in what is essentially another piece of a marketing campaign.

However, on an individual basis, you should know that photos taken of you inside U.S. theme parks are pretty much fair game. If your image winds up on someone else’s Twitter stream or Flickr account, there’s really nothing you can do.

Some theme parks print a generic “use of likeness” release on the physical ticket you are given; others include it in the terms and conditions you agree to when purchasing tickets online.

But lawyers say that even without some sort of printed photo release, you don’t have much recourse if you want a photo removed from, say, someone else’s Facebook. With thousands of people taking thousands of photos every day, there’s no real expectation of privacy if your face is captured in the crowd.