Disney Shares Details of Upcoming Theme Park Virtual Assistant Genie
Disney will provide a virtual assistant as a guide and planning service for visitors to its theme parks this fall within the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps. The AI named Genie will answer questions about the parks and build ideal itineraries for users based on what they say they are interested in and the logistics of the moment, updating in real-time depending on wait times and other factors.
Genie’s mix of new features gives visitors to the theme parks a way of better organizing their day and adapting to changing circumstances. The tools include future wait time estimates, personalized suggestions, and route planning through the enormous parks. The AI can engage in conversation with users about what they like in terms of kinds of rides, favorite characters, food interests, among other elements. After Genie lays out a plan, the user can refine it manually or by continuing to let the AI know their likes and dislikes. Genie is also full of logistical information and suggestions about how best to experience the parks, similarly adjusted to the user’s preferences. All of the suggestions can be explained to the user by Genie as well, should they not be sure why it is recommending some specific activity.
“Disney Genie listens to the preferences that guests share with us to help design their best day and deliver an experience that’s made just for them,” Disney Parks experiences and products chairman Josh D’Amaro said in a statement. “Pairing incredible technology with more than 60 years of expertise about how our guests visit the parks, Disney Genie will personalize their Disney day, allowing guests to spend less time planning and waiting and more time doing the things they love.”
Variations on a Theme Park
Disney has been working on the Genie concept for some time, first announcing it in 2019. It will replace the current FastPass system and offer a subscription service called Genie+ for those willing to pay to skip lines and receive some other preferential treatment. The concept of theme parks employing conversational AI to enhance experiences has started to take root beyond Disney, though the colossus of the industry is likely to set some new standards that others will follow over the next few years.
Disney’s virtual assistant is restricted to mobile apps for now, and there hasn’t been any mention of how it will be used within the Disney hotels. Meanwhile, guests at Legoland hotels in New York and California are provided a custom Google Nest Hub installed in their room, with an Amazon Echo serving a similar purpose at the Florida location. The specialized versions of Google Assistant and Alexa within serve as concierges and guides. The voice assistants are programmed with information about the theme park and nearby restaurants and activities, with suggestions on what to try. They also all have built-in scavenger hunts for kids, offering clues that will send children to explore their rooms.