Disney To Unleash Drones On Theme Parks, Mankind’s Future In Doubt

The happiest place on earth might become the birthplace for the inevitable robot uprising. Unmanned drones could eventually be used at Disney’s theme parks instead of old fashioned balloons and fireworks. No word yet on whether said drones will be equipped with artillery or programmed with independent thought.

The Walt Disney Company revealed plans to use drones at its theme parks when it recently submitted three patent requests to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The filings were confirmed by the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.

The drones seem primarily intended for nighttime shows, but could also be used for parades. As Stitch Kingdom points out, the drones would also help improve Disney shows held over fountains, lagoons and other bodies of water, which the patents point out prove challenging. Drones would be pre-programmed and controlled from the ground for maximum anarchy when they eventually gain self-awareness and break free of their masters’ control in the middle of the Remember… Dreams Come True fireworks show.

The first intended use is to have the flying drones connected to marionettes or puppets. The drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would then animate the flying characters based on their pre-programmed flight paths. A ground control system would be used to control the fleet. That is until something goes wrong and the drones are chasing screaming children with a gigantic marionette of Woody from Toy Story.

The drones would also be used to carry large projection screens, and be equipped with colored lights, or “flixels” (portmanteau of “floating pixels”), to present a new light show or possibly replace current fireworks show. Fireworks can be unpredictable because of wind and rain. Drones could overcome more inclement weather than traditional fireworks, which would result in less cancelled shows. Unless the colored lighting assembly of each drone are turned against an unsuspecting public and reprogrammed as deadly lasers, slaughtering hundreds in synch to the musical crescendos of “A Whole New World”.

The three patents were filed by Clifford Wong, James Alexander Stark and Robert Scott Trowbridge, of Walt Disney Imagineering, the design and development arm for Disney. Trowbridge previously helped develop the Fantasyland dragon.

In February, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to prohibit use of drones by a Texas company, but that was later ruled as not legally binding. The FAA has since delayed making any formal regulations about drones and their use. While drones and other unmanned robotic devices aren’t likely to actually revolt against humanity, questions about safety and privacy continue to be discussed.