“Black Box” Interchangeable “Flex Ride” in Development for 2022 Opening at Disney California Adventure, Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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We are in an age of abundant projection-heavy, screen-based attractions at the Disney Parks and there’s no sign of turning back anytime soon with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the new Spider-Man attraction coming to Disneyland Resort. Well, beyond these announced attractions, Disney has plans to build a ride in what they call a “black box” that would rely heavily on screen and projection technology, allowing the theme of the entire ride to be changed in just weeks, if not days. You may recall that we first told you about this attraction back in May.

Much like some of the attractions listed above, the ride would be trackless, featuring free-roaming vehicles that could easily be reprogrammed. With screens and projectors making up most of the attraction, scenes could be altered (possibly overnight) from one version to the next. The idea here is that a ride could be changed from one intellectual property to a more current “IP” in little-to-no time.

The “black box” term comes from the appearance of the attraction when everything is turned off. It is essentially a giant warehouse with projection and screen surfaces, a blank canvas. The attraction will feature props and figures with limited movement to try and offset the screens with some moving pieces. Said figures will be designed so they can be switched out whenever the attraction changes.

The attraction is also internally called a “Flex Ride”, since it can have multiple uses, much like a “Flex Space”.

The “black box” dark ride is projected to open in 2022 at Disney California Adventure, at the same time as its Walt Disney World counterpart in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The exact location for each attraction within those parks is unknown, but an educated guess would be Hollywood Land at DCA and the Animation Courtyard area at the Studios.

Featured Image: (C) Matthew Cooper Photography

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Davenport Florida Home
Guest
Davenport Florida Home

Please dont dall prey to the universal issue where every ride is a screen ride.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I’m having a hard time decide whether this is pure genius in terms of flexibility or the worst, laziest way to execute new attractions.

Customer Satisfaction
Guest
Customer Satisfaction

It’s clearly the worst. Do you think they will really spend the money to change these rides out to a degree where the ride is even as passably interesting as Toy Story Mania? At best we’re getting 3 or 4 iterations of lazy, uninteresting attractions instead of one Disney classic, and an idea that will die completely or become terribly outdated tech in 10 years. Across the industry, rides that are all screens or projection consistently fail, while rides that blend real set design, story, and modern screen tech are consistently praised.

Marc
Guest
Marc

Not sure if I am fascinated by the possibilities of this, or greatly concerned.

David H Schroeder
Guest
David H Schroeder

Fascinating possibilities. Aren’t they also talking about a similar capability within the Play Pavilion (ex-Health, ex-Festival Center) at EPCOT?

Alo
Guest
Alo

Please don’t take away the animation building in DCA, everything, but Award weiners and Schmoozies can be demolished, I would even be okay with taking Monster’s Inc. but on a hot day, you could spend an hour or more in the animation building watching the loops of Disney songs and animation. That’s not including Animation Academy, Turtle Talk with Crush or any of the meet and greets. PLEASE demo all the wasted space in Hollywoodland for the Marvel meet & greets.

Marc
Guest
Marc

Yeah, I can agree with that.

Phillip Ratter
Guest
Phillip Ratter

Screens and projectors are great, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t the end all be all. There must be an element of reality to the ride for guests to be emotionally invested. If it’s JUST a screen moving past a chair, why go at all? Stay at home on the couch, it’s cheaper.

Threeosix
Guest
Threeosix

This, a good example of good usage of screens in a ride is the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland Shanghai. It’s PotC from Disney World Orlando but on steroids, it has massive water to ceiling screens that make massive ships and being under water in the ocean possible. But the screens are surrounded by actual live props and effects, so it blends. Look up a pov on Youtube, it’s insane.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I tend to be pretty positive about most things Disney. I’ve even been accused of being a “Disney Apologist”.
But…….while I understand why they’d do a project like this, it’s very, very hard for me to get even the slightest bit excited about it.
I really, really hope that if they do develop this, it’s a one and done.

Customer Satisfaction
Guest
Customer Satisfaction

Anyone who derides universal for their use of screens, and doesn’t also recognize that DIsney is doing the same thing exactly (with slightly better story and queue elements) on 90% of their new attractions is a complete fool and/or apologist.

Overabundance of lazy CGI is the worst thing happening in Hollywood and overabundance of Screens is a plague on modern theme park design.