Over the last few years, we have slowly seen Walt Disney World install screens at many of its theme park attractions for new interactive elements that would utilize the technology in a guest’s MagicBand. Many of these effects were eventually turned on, such as the Hitchhiking Ghost scene at the end of the Haunted Mansion, the “it’s a small world” finale where guests would receive a customized farewell, and the Mission Roster at Mission: Space at Epcot. Quietly over the last few weeks, many of these effects were turned off.
Is Disney finally throwing in the towel on these elements? It is uncertain, but all of theme being turned off simultaneously certainly means that they are up to something.
Some of these changes were deemed controversial by fans. The personalized tombstones that the ghosts would carry in the Haunted Mansion finale were called hokey, the “it’s a small world” goodbyes considered forced, and overall many guests felt like Disney was shoving it down their throats that they had the technology to put their name (and where they live) on a screen. Personally, I thought at least a few of them were clever, but agree there was likely too many of them present.
Similar effects were also installed at several other locations but never turned on. For example, screens inside Star Tours and the Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios were simply never used. Another set of screens at Cover Story on Hollywood Boulevard were turned on for about 2 weeks before going back to being just static images again.
The Mission Roster at the exit of Mission: Space was turned off for the first time this week since it was installed. A short ISTC video with famous quotes about the exploration of space plays now:
Perhaps Disney will be upgrading these systems and they will be returning soon, but for now (or possibly forever), don’t be surprised if you don’t see your name in lights at your favorite Walt Disney World locale.