I was recently invited to attend the media preview for the Magic Kingdom’s much anticipated “Castle projection show”. The show was announced some months back along with the 2011 campaign – “Let the Memories Begin“. The show and campaign itself received much criticism from cynics, assuming Disney was just using other people’s photos and videos so they didn’t have to come up with something on their own. Many objections to “YouTube videos on the castle” were heard over the interwebs.
Ever the Disney-supporter, I posted on twitter and facebook about how I supported this campaign. Really, I’m the kind of Disney fan that doesn’t think we are “owed” anything, yet many critics compare each year’s promotion to the Year of a Million Dreams or the What Will You Celebrate? campaigns, which were overflowing with extras, freebies and one-of-a-kind experiences. Last year, you still got a free ticket – if you volunteered for it. This year, however, the focus is on families – no matter what that consists of, and the memories created at Disney Parks throughout the world. After all, aren’t the best “extras” the intangibles that you hold in your heart and mind for years to come?
Despite my understanding and excitement about Let the Memories Begin, I still wasn’t sure how the Castle would fit in to this equation. After all, people don’t typically like when Cinderella Castle is messed with. (I happen to be one of the few people in the universe that thought it was cute – but totally understand those that were upset at its appearance for their visits; a year is a long time for bright pink.) Would this be something that most guests couldn’t relate to if their pictures weren’t selected? Would it disrupt the magic of the kingdom? Well, all my fears were assuaged Tuesday night when I experienced “The Magic, The Memories and You” first-hand.
First we were treated to a press conference with Park executives Al Weiss, and Meg Crofton. We were told about the upcoming news at the Parks (Wild Africa Trek, La Hacienda, Via Napoli, Star Tours 2). Alan Bruun, Associate Creative Director Walt Disney World Entertainment then gave us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the new castle show was created. The castle was actually graphed with a grid for the 3-D photo imaging required to ensure seamless projections and special effects. We were shown the locations for the 16 projectors used in the show. In addition to videos pulled from the Let The Memories Begin site where guests can submit their family videos, 500 photos taken in-park that day will be hand-picked to appear in the sometimes twice nightly show on the castle. As Bruun was quoted that night, “it’s a heck of a lot more than a slide-show on the castle”. Since seeing is believing, we all headed over to Cinderella Castle to experience the show for ourselves.