Disney and Amazon Unveil New ‘Hey, Disney’ Alexa Custom Assistant
Disney and Amazon debuted a new Alexa Custom Assistant called Hey, Disney! for Echo device users at home and visiting Walt Disney resorts starting next year at Amazon’s annual new device event this week. The branded voice assistant layers interactions with Disney-owned characters and contents on top of Alexa’s features and services and is the first Alexa custom assistant available on Amazon’s Echo devices.
The Hey, Disney! AI will offer more than 1,0000 conversations, stories, games, jokes, and other interactions with Disney characters, to begin with, hosted by the new Disney Magical Companion. The Disney-specific content comes with Alexa’s usual features, but often with a Disney flavor. Amazon created the Alexa Custom Assistant to simplify building custom, branded voice assistants supported by Alexa’s AI. The idea is to make it cheaper and faster for companies wanting to deploy a custom voice experience with their own voice, wake word, and more. The platform eliminates the need to design, build, and update natural language engines and other necessities. Chrysler was the first brand to produce an Alexa custom assistant, followed by Qualcomm and Garmin. Most recently, Verizon debuted a branded own smart display powered by a custom Alexa assistant.
All of the previous custom Alexa assistants have operated on the brand’s own hardware. Disney is the first to implement one on Amazon’s smart speakers and displays. Amazon and Disney didn’t give a precise rollout date or price for Hey, Disney! For those wanting an early taste of the collaboration, Amazon and Otterbox released a new $25 Echo Show 5 stand, shaped, evoking Mickey Mouse’s round ears and red overalls.
“We’re bringing the worlds of Disney directly to Echo devices with ‘Hey, Disney!’,” Amazon devices and services senior vice president Dave Limp said. “By combining the strength of Alexa’s technology, with Disney’s unmatched storytelling expertise, we’re creating the next generation of immersive experiences to make guests’ vacations more memorable and giving our customers a way to make their homes a bit more magical too.”
Disney is planning to roll out a resort-specific version of the custom voice assistant next year. Disney is installing compatible Echo devices in its rooms built with Alexa for Hospitality tech as well as Hey, Disney! The Disney Magical Companion at the hotel will showcase local highlights on its screen, provide information about the hotel and adjacent parks, and relay requests for toiletries and other hotel services. The collaboration seems unrelated to Disney’s plans for a theme park AI named Genie, set to be added to the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps.
“Our focus is to bring Disney storytelling to our guests wherever they are,” Disney Parks experiences and products chairman Josh D’Amaro, said. “Through Alexa technology, ‘Hey, Disney!’ will unlock new ways for guests to engage with our iconic characters and stories both at home as well as at our Walt Disney World Resort hotels.”