Wireless interactive map software for the DS is being pilot tested in Walt Disney World.
Looking for new ways to have guests interact with their theme parks, Disney's Imagineers have cooked up a new park information system. You might be wondering what news like this is doing on Nintendo World Report. The answer is simple, the Imagineers are using the Nintendo DS as the platform for their new "Disney Magic Connection" program.
The pilot program, which is currently underway at Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, FL, is selecting random guests to test drive the device during their day at the park. After taking down the guests' credit card information (to ensure the DS doesn't "go home" with the guests), participants are given a quick run down of the system's features, and then let loose to go about their day in the park with the DS in hand.
The DS includes some sort of device sticking out of the GBA/Accessory port on the bottom of the system. It has not been confirmed what this device specifically does, but based on my knowledge of Disney World, I would wager there is a small radio chip similar to the kind found in Disney's Pal Mickey toy. Pal Mickey can interact with Disney's theme parks in a manner that is very similar to how Disney's Magic Connection has been described.
The foremost feature of Disney's Magic Connection is a fully interactive park map. The system can tell precisely where you are in the park and offer routes to various attractions, restaurants, character greeting areas, and other facilities. The park is constantly communicating with the DS, and can relay attraction wait times to the DS. It can also alert guests when they are nearby attractions they have placed on their "wish list". Selecting a specific attraction will bring up a short description of it, including height restrictions (if applicable), operating status, and the current Fast Pass distribution time (for rides using Disney's Fast Pass system).
Additionally, Disney's Magic Connection comes with a few interactive games to help pass the time while waiting in line. These games, which are connected to various attractions and areas of the park, are locked initially. Guests can unlock the games by visiting the specific attractions. When first setting the system up, the DS asks for the names and approximate ages of everybody in your party. This information is used to tailor the games to the specific person playing them, hopefully making sure they are easy enough for children and challenging enough for adults. Currently there are five games for Fantasyland, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
As the program is still in testing, its future is uncertain. Disney runs many pilot programs that never leave the testing phase, so there is a possibility that Disney's Magic Connection may never see a full release. If it is released, there's also no way of telling if Disney will rent out the system, DS included, or if the software package will be made available on its own for use with the Nintendo DS that many families will certainly have with them already.
Pictures of Disney's Magic Connection in action can be found at the WDWMagic Forums. Thanks to SewIn2Disney at the WDWMagic Forums for providing the pictures and information!