Magic wands for Disney


[NRP] sent us a few of his projects. The most notable of the bunch was a school project funded by Disney. They were to make some kind of interactive entertainment for people waiting in line for rides. They decided on a wand style interface. Each wand has an accelerometer, an IR LED for tracking, an XBee unit, and a few buttons for interaction. They wrote some custom games and a multi person white board to test it all out.  You can see those in action, along with a space themed pong game in the video after the break. Even though this was funded by Disney, you can still find all the source code and schematics, available for free.


  1. jack says:

    Kiddies drawing penises while waiting in line!

  2. Caleb Kraft says:

    sadly, that was my first thought. Disney would not implement a whiteboard for that reason. It will probably be some kind of simple game.

  3. ed3 says:

    The pong and whiteboard apps are similar to what Disney already has in the Soarin queue. They do body movement tracking to achieve the same thing. Could just as easily implement the poll app based on people raising their hands at the right time. No wand needed.

  4. Caleb Kraft says:

    Interesting, I haven’t been and didn’t know they already had something similar. Surely they are always looking for new ways to amuse people.

  5. SOOPERGOOMAN187 says:

    It looks more like a vibrator than a wand, design revision time.

  6. #YLS# says:

    Kind of cool tech, depends on how much it costs really, if it’s cheap I’m sure like most IR technology it’ll get implemented just for the sake of it, otherwise I have a feeling it won’t be all that widely used even in somewhere like disney land where people are usually happy to throw away money.


    p.s. if you go to anywhere disney owned and want to be childish, just go to the stuffed toys section and put all the characters in sexually suggestive positions…

    It’s what I do all the time :D

  7. stunmonkey says:

    Wait – this doesn’t have an arduino so it can’t be finished yet.
    maybe if they made an arduino trigger another arduino to blink an led on top it would be cooler.

  8. I can see this being a key to Disney’s off-ride time consuming stuff. The trick is, they won’t be giving them away. The “wand” controller will probably be for sale, and/or included with multi-day passes and vacation packages. Your own “wand” will, conveniently, have a kind of RFID in it as well. This will allow them to use them to:

    a) track park utilization

    b) use the wands in an e-commerce way – quick check out, automatically route to room thing. Imagine being in a gift shop and using the wand to buy things which are then just sent right to your hotel room. No waiting on lines to check out.

    c) track your “score” at games, and sign your “artwork” (which may help with the problem of inappropriate drawings somewhat). I could see them structuring treasure hunt contents where you use your wand to go to different attractions to collect points or clues.

    In fact, imagine a treasure hunt/points system that changed in real time based on park utilization. The clues could re-order or change their weighting to help balance the flow of people in the parks. A particular attraction is under utilized? Make more clues point there for a few hours.

    Frankly, now that I think of it I’m surprised they haven’t done it yet.

  9. Caleb Kraft says:

    Great ideas. the ability to point traffic is brilliant. I wonder if they already have methods of doing similar things.

  10. nrp says:

    a) and c) were big use cases we were planning on. c) was partially implemented. Your “display name” follows you around games and shows up as your cursor in drawing. Wand activity is also tracked on a web interface that could be extended to do Xbox Live style achievements.

    I assume that was tongue in cheek, but our hardware is Arduino based, and we use their bootloader.

    There is a panic button to clear the screen, but that is indeed a huge concern and would almost certainly prevent it from going into an actual park.

  11. necromncr says:

    They have something similar in Te Papa Museum, New Zealand. You create your share of interactive items on a terminal and then place it on a several meters long video-wall.

    Beside that, is this in the USA? If so, I wonder how long will it take until a kid hits another kid or chokes on the gadget and entire Disney gets shutdown… *being evil of course*

  12. strider_mt2k says:

    stunmonkey is just pissed off over his “tying my own shoes” hack being rejected.

  13. grovenstien says:

    This is cool stuff but perhaps moding a wii remote may be a cheaper implimentation?

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