Porthole Views Go Virtual on Disney Dream

Posted Oct 15th 2010 12:06 AMUpdated May 31st 2011 02:31 PM

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Disney Cruise Line

Windowless, inside staterooms on cruise ships are not particularly desirable to most cruisers, most often being snatched up by bargain-hunters looking for a deal. In a clever move, Disney is looking to change that on the new 4,000-passenger Disney Dream cruise ship, which debuts in late January.

Disney's largest ever ship will have inside staterooms with "magic virtual portholes," one of the coolest new innovations on the high seas -- and already a hit based on advanced bookings.

AOL Travel News was able to get a sneak peek at a mockup of the portholes on an exclusive visit to Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) in California, the top-secret place where the Disney team creates features for Disney ships, as well as rides for Disney parks and other hush-hush projects.

So what exactly is a "virtual porthole?" It's a big round "window" through which guests can see the real sea in real time, thanks to a live HD feed.

Just like those in outside staterooms who have real windows or verandas, passengers in the inside staterooms will view waves, islands coming into sight and sunrises and sunsets. Only in this case they are seeing it on a 42-inch monitor.

Bob Zalk, senior producer/director for WDI, explains that the live feed will be accomplished with four HD cameras mounted around the ship -- port, starboard, forward and aft. So wherever the inside stateroom is located -- and there are about 150 on the ship -- the virtual view will correspond.

The idea is undeniably clever, making us wonder why no one has ever thought of it before.


But that's not all. There's an added touch of Disney "magic" at play here. Animated Disney characters also enter the scene. So while you're gazing out at your ocean view, Peach, the starfish from "Finding Nemo," gets stuck to the window, the house from the movie "Up" floats across the screen and Tinker Bell whizzes past.

The animation sequences are triggered when passengers come into the cabin, and play randomly, so you never quite know what you are going to see.

Next to the mockup at the warehouse, there are boards displaying ideas for the animation sequences, and Zalk says the Imagineers are planning to have about three-dozen different animation snippets playing on the portholes.

"With the Disney animated library being what it is, there is no shortage of Disney characters and scenes and vignettes we can choose from," Zalk says. "The challenge sometimes for us is not what will we pick, but how do we whittle those picks down to the best."

The combination of virtual ocean views and animation instantly give cheap cabins a cool factor.

"We think this is a really special treat for our guests," Zalk says.

And don't worry -- if it all gets to be too much, or more likely, if the kids won't go to sleep in anticipation of the next surprise, passengers will have the option of turning the screen off.

Filed Under: Disney, Video

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K White

This is cool, but I still prefer the balcony cabins.

June 01 2011 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lynn Bowens

This is the most creative idea in a long time ----Kudos Disney.

June 01 2011 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
perutravel09

Peru Travel . Wanna see a quintessential modern Latin American capital, and the ruins of an ancient Inca city? How about a colonial town backdropped by an earthquaking volcano, and traditional pre-Columbian villages dotting an Andean lake? Amazonian rainforests and peaceful coastlines? Peru Travel got it. http://www.peru-lima.net/

November 09 2010 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
machupicchutravel08



Machu Picchu travel

As adventure travel specialists, we offer a wide range of services, from specific treks and expeditions to fully customized programs around Peru, among others.
For trekking lovers, our offer ranges from the traditional Machu Picchu travel to the less known Ausangate or Lares http://www.peruadventuretrek.com/

November 08 2010 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
perutravel09

With the Disney animated library being what it is, there is no shortage of Disney characters and scenes and vignettes we can choose from," Zalk says. "The challenge sometimes for us is not what will we pick, but how do we whittle those picks down to the best." http://www.peru-lima.net/

November 08 2010 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
perutravel09

Wanna see a quintessential modern Latin American capital, and the ruins of an ancient Inca city? How about a colonial town backdropped by an earthquaking volcano

November 08 2010 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hikingperu8

Easy Birding Peru offers tours from Cusco to the Manu National Park or to the Manu Biosphere, including our private Reserve Maquisapayoj, adjacent to the National Park. http://www.easybirdingperu.com/

November 06 2010 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony

*pictures a US Navy submarine putting six torpedos into another ugly barge and sinking it, scoring six hits for good taste in general*

November 05 2010 at 11:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ann Kuzy

Wonder if they will ever pass this real time view on to cable? I might go for it....

November 05 2010 at 8:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
soutamerica

woww cookies without milk, movies without popcorn, a band with no drummer, hardly...it would be more along the lines of a year with no sun, beaches with no ocean, the world void of wildlife and soundless music....dramatic,,,? Maybe, but think about it. ....Disney Girl here and a lifer....no small kids, but still enjoying the Disney spirit. Looking to foster some older" tough teens" ( yes, experienced here) and Disney will be an early experience for them http://www.southamerica-peru.com/

November 05 2010 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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