Disney looks like it’s about to launch its first-ever drone show

Disney seems determined not to let any drone-based opportunities fly past unnoticed, at least that’s what a teaser video released this week appears to suggest.

Posted on YouTube on Monday, the video urges visitors to Disney Springs in Florida to “look to the stars,” with the entertainment giant promising “a new holiday experience” for everyone dropping by in the run up to Christmas.

The short promo shows what appears to be a huge number of LED-laden drones buzzing noisily in the night sky, forming the shape of a Christmas tree rotating slowly against the dark backdrop. There’s also a couple of guys close by apparently controlling the performance via a laptop and other gear.

Disney has been keen to get involved with quadcopters for a while, its interest increasing since the arrival of reliable machines with autonomous capabilities.

Coming up with its own ideas for how it might utilize the birds, it recently secured a patent for so-called “projector drones” that buzz about while projecting images onto screens dangling below the flying machines. The patent, which was granted in August, explains how the autonomous drones could be used in large groups for displays, “with floating or flying projection screens” showing changing imagery set to music.

The patent also describes how drones could open “new frontiers for aerial advertising,” and suggests how they might be useful for getting important information to visitors quickly in an emergency situation.

For the upcoming displays teased in this week’s video, Disney had to get special permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones in its U.S. parks, something it received last Friday.

The waiver is valid for four years, though can be withdrawn at any point if Disney is deemed to violate safety rules at any point. It allows the drones to be flown at night, and stipulates that operators must have remote pilot certificates.

Disney is yet to release details about the holiday season displays, but it sounds like the revolutionary project will be taking to the skies soon.


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