Disney Previews “Hey Disney” Voice Assistant for Alexa Devices
Disney showed off some of what the Hey, Disney! Alexa Custom Assistant can do this week in a demonstration ahead of its official rollout this summer. The voice assistant offers interactions with a host of Disney-owned characters, as well as a new voice AI guide for users at Disney theme park hotels and at home.
Hey, Disney! is a branded voice assistant that augments the Disney-built features and services with Alexa’s AI as support. It’s designed with resort guests in mind, offering messages from characters when they return to their room, answering logistical questions about the parks, and providing concierge services for things like extra towels. The new Disney Magical Companion acts as a host and MC for the voice AI, introducing the user to a collection of more than 25 Disney characters, including Disney-owned brands like Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and the Muppets. The alarms, weather reports, and other Alexa features replace the standard voice with a relevant character; Olaf the snowman gives weather reports, for instance. Overall, Disney promises more than 1,0000 conversations, stories, games, jokes, and other interactions in just the initial release. The Disney voice assistant is also available to anyone through the Alexa skills store, albeit without the theme park-specific tools.
“I think what we’re most excited about really are the new ways that guests are gonna get to interact with some of their favorite Disney characters and they’re gonna get to do this in a few different ways actually so Hey Disney will make the ways that people already use their smart speakers even more magical,” Disney product director JC Diaz explained in the presentation. “We have an awesome diverse character roster that we’re launching with that includes every major Disney franchise from Disney animation to Pixar to Star Wars and my personal favorite the Muppets, because there’s nothing like waking up to an alarm from Animal. Now we know guests love our existing characters and we think they’re going to feel the same way about a brand new character we’ve developed called the Disney magical companion and he or it will be your guide to all things Hey Disney.”
The Disney Magical Companion will also soon connect with the MagicBand+ wearable for getting into the park and gaining hands-free access to some of the park experiences and pair with Amazon Echo devices in the resort rooms. That’s not the same as the new theme park conversational AI named Genie arriving on the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps. And while the presentation doesn’t explicitly mention Disney’s metaverse plans, it seems likely that the entertainment giant will look for ways to boost its virtual worlds with voice AI guides much like the Magical Companion.