Star Tours, upgraded since 1987 with high-res screens and 3D adventures. (GeekWire Photo / Frank Catalano)
ANAHEIM, Calif. — What is “content?,” I mused while my stomach rose and fell in jerky counterpoint to the Big Thunder Mountain runaway rail car in which I was riding. When content equals story, as it does at Disneyland, it can be an entire theme park.
There may be no better place to observe how digital content has enhanced — or replaced — the physical in storytelling than at the original Disney park in Anaheim. Disneyland was founded in 1955 and effectively invented the concept of the modern theme park, where story is intertwined with attractions.
This series by contributing writer Frank Catalano examines the evolution of digital content, from creation to consumption, and the technology transforming it.
I decided to test this hypothesis with my inner 8-year-old in tow during my first visit to Disneyland in nearly a decade (though in-between I’ve visited Disney parks in Orlando and Paris).
Disclaimer: I’m not a Disney obsessive, but I am observant. I have a long history as a consumer of Disneyland content going back more than 50 years to my childhood, with in-depth dives as a journalist covering the technology behind Star Tours when it opened in 1987 and Disney’s California Adventure park in 2001.
This trip, I was looking for digital upgrades to the storytelling since my last visit in 2009. Not necessarily show-stopper new attractions or headliner revamps (though there are those), but the subtle. Perhaps so subtle that Disney public relations reps had a hard time coming up with suggestions for me to check out before I arrived.
But they are there, and I noticed.
The author interviews a Walt Disney Imagineer at Star Tours’ 1987 opening. (Frank Catalano Photo)
I’d put the enhancements into three technology buckets: embedded …read more