RUMOR – Could New Disney Monorails use Augmented Reality?


A few weeks ago, we reported on rumors that Disney World may be looking at getting a new Monorail fleet.

Now that rumor has grow to include a high-tech twist — augmented reality.

According to Disney Rumormeister Jim Hill, Disney may add windows capable of displaying augmented reality (AR) as passengers zing through Disney World.

This is similar to many current video games, such as Pokemon Go, where a real life video has 3D game graphics superimposed, giving the effect of the game characters existing in the real world.

This technology could add some extra magic to Walt Disney World, as passengers might see Disney characters interacting “outside” their windows. Imagine seeing Carl Fredricksen’s house from Up floating in the sky, or maybe even Elliott from Pete’s Dragon, and you get the idea.

The idea expands upon earlier reports of Disney creating living, breathing spaces in their hotels that fully immerse guests into fantastic experiences.

(Sounds a little like the holodeck from Star Trek, huh?)

The patents for the monorail technology was uncovered by Touring Plans’ Len Testa along with Hill, and was originally thought to be for the long-rumored self-driving cars.

Imagineer Bob Gurr has stated that he feels Disney is in talks to replace the monorail fleet, as its aging very badly (yes, we know!).

Disney has not confirmed the replacement of the monorail fleet, but rumors suggest that they cancelled the planned Main Street Theater project to allocate funds.

Again, this is all rumor and speculation. But if true, we may see some new monorails by Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

[Source: Orlando Weekly]

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I've loved Disney as long as I can remember. As a former newspaper editor, web developer, and Disney comics freelancer, I'm able to combine that experience into writing about Disney online. I'm also the co-host of a Disney fan podcast called 'Pirates & Princesses.' Opinions mine.


  1. It should be noted that AR can be limited in this use due to limited control of the viewers perspective. The Pokemon GO example works since the perspective is controlled via the phones camera single POV lining up to the users single POV while holding the device. Making only 2 points that need to line up. The camera image and the digital AR elements since the phones screen flattens everything from the users perspective. Viewing through a window with multiple passengers in a monorail car makes for multiple POVs with no direct connection between any sensors on the exterior of the vehicle and the viewer, such as a phone user viewing the world via the screen. This difficulty stems from lining up AR elements with real world objects from multiple viewers perspective. Less of an issue if you’re showing characters flying around or walking around in open areas such as walking around on a station platform(or displaying navigational, advertising communications, and rider instructions such as for emergencies… ooo, or simulating fireworks), but more difficult if you were to superimpose images onto something like SpaceShip Earth since multiple viewers aren’t inherently in the same line as the AR projections and the object as other viewers in the same vehicle. You could still do it if you don’t care too much about accuracy of the projection and if the viewers are seated all generally near each other. Such as the current rider configuration of the MK VI monorail cars as opposed to the MK VII open layout cars at DisneyLand or the Tokyo Disney Monorail. This is assuming you’re using a window projection system, like Samsungs Smart Window or similar, as opposed to just translating this all to a separate monitor such as Pokemon GO or that Magic Bench. Accuracy would also be effected by vehicle speed and, of course, weather like fog. If you were not to use a Smart Window like interface and instead were to just do a Pokemon GO like AR of Spaceship Earth displayed on a Monitor in the Monorail Car, why not just use a pre-recorded Video instead since you wouldn’t need interactions?

    Considering a new monorail would have to be a custom job since the Innovia 300 is over 2 feet wider with a different beam width then the MK VI monorail(meaning trains would run less then a foot from each other while passing), and Disney wouldn’t want to swap out all the duel beam spans, it’s a perfect opportunity to integrate additional technology in to the new vehicles that is both helpful for rider awareness as well as thematically consistent with plenty of the new additions coming to the park. It could also point to a similar seating configuration with the MK VIs, since the Innovia 300 bogies are shorter then the MK VIs, but still considerable, so if you lose the extra 2 feet width the rider would have difficulty walking “around” the bogie/gangway area as they do on the 300 inter-car layout. This would keep riders in the two current “cans” which would allow for better projections (two sets of projections, one for each group) rapid loading/unloading for the express and Epcot routes. However, I bet Disney would love to keep the inter-car option for better evacuation options, even if it would bottleneck and slow loading.

    Sorry for the rant, I just think the design challenges/considerations are far more complicated then a lot of people think. Far too many people think they can just buy Innovia 300 trains “off-the-rack” and just plop them on their beams. The custom job here has great potential for an innovative new Monorail system but could also be possible for a subpar system that just saves money and is quick to implement, while still being branded as new. It would be obvious which option the Eisner Era Disney would go with. While the Iger Era has seen them more willing to spend money for future growth, we really don’t know when it comes to this unexpected “medical” cost for the WDW Monorail.

  2. Works for me, although what’s really needed is a new rail to connect EPCOT with its resorts, as well as Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs!


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