Walt Disney World Technology Continues to Freak Me Out

From new projection mapping shows to immersive Avatar experiences at Animal Kingdom, Disney World technology stays one step ahead.

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I'm glad there are videos like this to show me what I missed during my visit to the Avatar ride at Animal Kingdom in Orlando.

I have a confession to make—and it’s one that may not surprise those among you who know me well: I’m a total wimp when it comes to amusement park rides. Never was that more evident than last week when I was at Walt Disney World for a family vacation.

Despite my well-known fear of—and disdain for—the most thrilling of thrill rides, it’s amazing the things I’ll do for my job—and to avoid a lifetime of ridicule from the people who are supposed to love me the most.

I haven’t seen a second of the movie Avatar, and only know as much about it as my brother-in-law explained to me as we stood in line to get on the new immersive Avatar ride in Animal Kingdom.

I closed my eyes for a portion of the ride, but the parts I saw were pretty incredible and definitely made me feel like I was flying through the forest on a large mythical creature.

Thank goodness for one of best Disney World technology innovations—the Fast Pass—because I can’t imagine I would’ve actually made it on the Avatar ride if I had to wait in the three-hour line that those who didn’t plan ahead were forced to endure.

The day at Animal Kingdom wasn’t a complete loss for a wimp like me, as it ended with an amazing light show that featured projections not onto screens, but onto water.

Our group went to Hollywood Studios on another day during the trip and I watched Tower of Terror transformed before my eyes into a gingerbread house in a nod to the start of the holiday season.

That didn’t fool me enough to ride it, although it was cool to watch the unexpected projection mapping show and watch people who were in the Sunshine State expecting warm weather freak out when soap bubbles made to look like snowflakes fell from the sky as it rolled. 

Speaking of projection mapping, it was fun to see the new Happily Ever After show on the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, but it was sort of a bummer that the famed Electric Light Parade has faded into Disney history, more for the nostalgia than the simple Disney World technology related to it.

As was the case during my last Disney World trip a couple of years ago, I checked in again on the rides dedicated to the Muppets, Star Wars, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and the Seven Dwarfs.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’d rather hang out with the Country Bears than immerse myself in the mystical world of Pandora for an Avatar thrill ride.

I’m excited to see what new Disney World technology the park (and others in the Orlando area) will incorporate into its rides in the coming years. We saw the area at Hollywood Studios where they’re adding Star Wars-themed rides and attractions by 2019, and as a die-hard fan of that saga, I can’t wait to see what that looks like—even if it means I have to close my eyes for a second to make it through them.

I’m supposed to visit the Universal Orlando Resort next summer and maybe I’ll even ride a broom with Harry Potter. I’m more likely, though, to head to a pineapple under the sea with Spongebob Squarepants.