Disney Japan to start selling movies on microSD cards.


According to Yahoo! Tech, Disney Japan is going to start selling movies packed onto a microSD card.  The movie will be playable on your mobile phone (if it has the ability to play terrestrial digital broadcasting) and other portable devices. 

It appears the card will be sold in a package that contains the DVD of the movie as well.  This package will retail for 4,935 yen – or the equivalent of $53.  The first movies planned for the format are Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure.

While this is somewhat impressive (these cards are tiny – smaller than your fingernail, actually), I can’t see how this is going to succeed.  First of all, who would pay $53 for a DVD and a memory card?  I think that’s a little high.  Second, you can’t use this with an iPod or iPhone, so iTunes is still the best choice for most people who would like digital distribution.  Third, this type of thing has been tried before.  SanDisk has been selling slotMusic cards for months.  How many of you have abandoned CDs or iTunes for slotMusic? 

All in all, it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.  I don’t think it’s going anywhere, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong…

Get a glimpse of World of Color!

Here’s a YouTube video with some great footage of what World of Color will look like when it opens at Disney’s California Adventure.  Steven Davison, Creative Director of Walt Disney Imagineering, describes some aspects of the show and what Guests can expect.  This is well worth nine minutes of your time, so check it out.  I’ll let Steve give you all the details:


By the way, I just want to let you know that I may fall behind the news this week.  I have a couple other projects going on right now, so don’t think I’ve forgotten about DisTech.  I’ll keep posting as often as I can this week, and I hope to be back in full force by next week.  Thanks for reading!

DRU-1: The lost Audio-Animatronic

So I’m listening to the WDW Today podcast on my way to work, and they’re talking with Shawn Slater about an Audio-Animatronic dolphin that appeared at the Living Seas in Epcot for five days in 1999.  It’s hard to listen to a show like this, especially when I have to imagine what this dolphin looks like.  When I finally get home and watch this video, I’m just blown away.  The Dolphin Robotic Unit-1 (or DRU-1) is an amazing piece of technology.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so watch the video below to see what I mean:

See what I mean?  Slater said the reason this AA didn’t last long was basically logistics.  They didn’t have the resources and personnel they needed to keep it going very long.  Still, I wish this was a part of the parks.  I would have liked to experience this for the technology aspect alone.

Head on over to the WDW Today web site for the show notes on today’s show.  Also, be sure to visit Shawn Slater’s blog at www.disneyshawn.blogspot.com.

UPDATE: Shawn Slater posted a great entry on his blog about DRU-1.  It’s an insider’s perspective on an excellent piece of technology! Read “A New Kind of Animal-tronic”.

New water show at California Adventure will bring a World of Color to the park.


Yesterday I wrote a little about the multiplane camera, so today I’ll write about huge water fountains and high-definition projectors!

As part of the huge redesign going on at Disney’s California Adventure, a new nighttime water show will open in Spring 2010.  The World of Color, as the show is called, takes its name from Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, the TV show that ran on NBC in the 1960s.

Everything about this show sounds huge.  The heights of the fountains reach from 30 to 200 feet – one foot taller than the Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!  The largest water screen will be 380 feet wide by 50 feet tall.  Over 30 HD projectors will be used to shoot images onto these water screens.  Some of the clips featured will be of Disney’s animated classics (such as The Lion King and Alice in Wonderland) and Disney-Pixar films (like Toy Story and Finding Nemo).

This show sounds simply stunning.  Not only will the technology be amazing, but the emotion and energy in this show may make it one of Disney’s premiere nighttime attractions.  This is like Fantasmic! “plussed.” 

If you’d like some more detailed specs and information about the show, check out this article from the Disneyland Resort Newsroom.  Also, for some interactive information about World of Color and other DCA redesigns, visit the Blue Sky Cellar at Disney’s California Adventure homepage.

Animation technology of yore.

The Disney Blog posted a YouTube video of Walt Disney explaining the multiplane camera.  For technology nuts like me, this is really interesting to watch.  We all know how computers have revolutionized today’s animation, but this was a huge leap in its own time. 

I believe this is pretty much the same video you can see at One Man’s Dream in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  That’s a wonderful place to see some of the old Disney stuff, and it’s very informative as well. 

Hope you enjoy this “blast from the past” Disney tech video!

New updates from the NTSB on the monorail crash.

According to an article published by the Orlando Sentinel today, it appears that monorail pilot Austin Wuennenberg tried to avoid the collision by stopping his train and throwing it reverse.  This action could definitely have prevented further injuries to the family of six that was aboard the monorail at the time of the accident.

The NTSB also said in a 400-word report that they found no technological or mechanical problems with the monorail system.  This means that the accident was probably due to human error or communication breakdown. 

Finally, it appears we have the first official explanation as to what caused the crash.  From the Orlando Sentinel:

“With workers preparing to shut down for the night after the end of the busy Fourth of July holiday, Disney’s "pink" train — each train is identified by a colored stripe along its side — was instructed to drop all of its remaining passengers off at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Its pilot was then told to advance along the Epcot line until just beyond a switch for the spur leading to a Magic Kingdom loop; there the train was to wait until the track was realigned and it could take the spur to return to the system’s maintenance bay for the night.

The train was then instructed to begin traveling in reverse — even though the track’s switch had not changed position.

At the same time, Wuennenberg, who was piloting the "purple" train farther back on the Epcot line, was instructed to advance into the Transportation and Ticket Center so he could drop off his six passengers.

Before he reached the station, Wuennenberg apparently realized the pink train was backing toward him. That is where the NTSB said it appears he stopped his train and attempted to shift into reverse — and where the pink train smashed into him.”

Thanks to the Orlando Sentinel for the article.  I’ll publish more as it becomes available.

Monorails running at WDW again.

The Disney Blog reported today that the monorails at Walt Disney World are running once again.  They were cleared by OSHA to return to normal operation.  Furthermore, the National Transportation and Safety Board said they will be investigating the accident.

John Frost, author of the post, noted that this is probably a good thing.  “Despite what Disney thinks about classifying the Monorails as an Amusement Attraction they really are a form of railway and that is the arena of the NTSB.”

As Frost points out, the fact that OSHA allowed the monorail to resume operation so soon probably means that this was not a technological failure.  Disney has added extra safety precautions to the monorail system, and will possibly add a Cast Member who will make sure the switches are always locked in place before another train is allowed to move.

Finally, no riders will be allowed in the cone of the trains at this time.  Disney said this change was out of respect to the monorail operators.  Even through this accident, I don’t think that riding in the cone poses a serious safety concern, so I would expect this to return to normal after some time.

Thanks to John Frost for the update.

Former monorail pilot offers explanation of tragic crash.

We haven’t had much of an explanation so far on the cause of the fatal monorail crash.  However, a former monorail pilot has created a video that offers a possible explanation on what happened.  Remember, this is not official news nor an official statement from Disney.  I would consider this an educated guess from a former pilot.  I’m not trying to discredit him, I just want to make clear that this should still be taken as speculation.

Here it is:

Update on monorail crash…

The driver who was killed in the early morning monorail tragedy was 21-year-old Austin Wuennenberg.  Austin had been a monorail driver since 2008, according to Central Florida News 13.  There were a total of 8 people aboard the two monorails: two drivers and a family of six.  The other driver and the family sustained no serious injuries.

I still haven’t seen any details on how this accident occurred.  If anything develops, I’ll be sure to post it.


Just a reminder to everyone: the monorails are still a safe way to travel in Walt Disney World.  In 38 years of operation, this is the first fatal accident to occur on the tracks.  There have been other incidents (which you can read about here), but those involved only received minor injuries.  Please do not be put off by this accident. 

Early morning monorail crash in WDW.


Sometimes technology doesn’t always work correctly.  This is a tragic story of just that.  Early this morning, around 2 a.m., the pink and purple monorails crashed in Walt Disney World.  The pink monorail was moving, and the purple monorail was stationary.  The crash killed one Cast Member, but officials say no Guests were injured.  So far, the name of that CM has not been released.

If you’d like to read more about this story, here are links to official news sources:

Click Orlando/Local6

Channel 13 – Central Florida News




Also, if you’d like some more information about the monorail itself, here’s a link to a Wikipedia entry on the monorail system.  According to this, the trains must always be kept two blocks apart.  If they get closer than this, the train is supposed to stop itself and lock out the driver’s controls.  The only way to regain control of the train is to correct the safety issue or to press an override button.

Finally, I’d like to offer my condolences and prayers to those and the families of those involved, especially that of the Cast Member.  This is a tragic event.  I’ll try to offer updates as they become available.