Disney files patent application for drone use at theme parks

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Disney considering using unmanned aircraft at its theme parks, raising questions about why a theme park would need a fleet of drones.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Walt Disney Company filed three patent applications for UAV [unmanned aerial vehicles], with language outlining plans for “entertainment” and “projections screens” at its theme parks.

The report first appeared on Stitch Kingdom, a Disney fan blog.

One application is for a Disney multi-drone system to hold airborne a projection screen for nighttime displays. Disney calls the floating displays “flixels,” an Imagineer-coined word combining “floating pixels.”

Another application abstract says, “The UAVs execute the flight plans to move and to position the flexible projection screens within the display air space.” Multiple flexible projection screens, according to Disney, would have low wind resistance and offer a surface for reflecting light.

Drones could be modified to carry either display screens or overhead lights, since both are lightweight and flexible, easily controlled from the ground.

Digital overhead light shows would also be safer and cost less than the current nightly pyrotechnic show at the parks.

The last patent application seeks to use multiple drones to maneuver balloons or large puppets to make them move by movement of the characters’ limbs.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.