The Walt Disney Company has filed a patent to improve visibility for performers in character costumes, Orlando Inno shared.
Character Costume Visibility Patent
The patent is called “Optical Viewfinder for Costume Heads.” It describes — and shows in the above image — a system of lenses within the head of a “fur character” suit. Usually, performers in these fur suits look out of the character’s mouth and not their actual eyes. The lenses would reflect the view from the character’s eyes down to the performer’s eyes.
The system could improve visibility for the performer since they would no longer have to rely on the limited view through a character’s mouth and could maintain real eye contact with guests. Improved visibility could mean better and safer meet-and-greet interactions.
The lenses are also potentially more reliable and cheaper than a video camera system within the head.
“The camera often will need repair including battery replacement,” the patent states, “and the camera model often will be depreciated with replacement models becoming less capable and more expensive in some applications. Even with two displays the viewed images are monoscopic, and, while walking or during head movements, camera latency causes conflicts between the viewed scene and the proprioception/vestibular systems, which often leads to dizziness of the performer and reduced agility.”
“With regard to achieving an enlarged [field of view],” the patent explains, “the optical viewfinder of the costume head can include a special eyepiece. For example, a fisheye lens may be used to deliver the image to the performer’s eye, and, in some cases, a second fisheye lens may be provided as the incoming or near-aperture lens to enhance [field of view]. The fisheye lens or lenses may be 1-to-1 lenses or configured to provide magnification to enlarge the image provided to the person wearing the costume head.”
Disney Character Meet and Greets
“Fur suits” don’t just refer to animal characters like Mickey and friends, but also characters like Buzz, Woody, and Jessie, who all have costumes that cover the performer’s face. Buzz Lightyear recently returned to his meet-and-greet location in Magic Kingdom.
Chip and Dale are dressed in their Rescue Rangers outfits at a meet-and-greet near Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Their meet-and-greet recently moved for the opening of the Den of Destiny bar.
A Figment meet and greet is set to begin this summer at EPCOT. The popular purple dragon hasn’t appeared as a meet-and-greet character for several years.
Frequent enemy of Mickey Mouse, Pete, is greeting guests for the first time at Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland.
Other “fur” characters include Oswald and Ortensia, who appeared during the 2023 Lunar New Year Festival at Disney California Adventure to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.
Visibility isn’t an issue for Disney Princesses and other human character meet-and-greets because they don’t have a headpiece over their eyes. Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests can currently meet live-action Ariel. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Moana now has a meet and greet.
What do you think of the new character costume patent? Let us know in the comments.