Disney has introduced a new feature at its Polynesian Resort in Orlando – “Hey Disney”.
Cool new hotel tech? Or the opening scene from a nightmarish Orwellian dystopia where Mickey runs the world? Either way, the mouse is listening in.
What is it?
In principle, it’s an adapted version of Google’s Alexa virtual assistant platform, designed to squeeze a little magic into guests’ hotel downtime. The Mickey-eared devices are set to be installed across most of Disney’s resorts, but will be going through a testing period at the Polynesian first.
What can it do?
Pretty much everything a normal Alexa can, but with a few twists. Naturally, the voices being used are those of popular Disney characters, like Goofy, the Genie from Aladdin, Groot, and the Mouse himself. Kids will be able to set alarms, hear stories from their favorite movies, and even play Star Wars trivia while hanging out in the room, giving mom and dad a little extra time to chill.
Disney Magic Bands – the bracelets used to enter the parks, pay for meal plans, and enter fast pass lanes – can also interact with the devices. They function as a buzzer of sorts in many of the games available on the system.
More notable are its practical functions. According to the company’s website, simple commands like “Hey Disney, can we have some more towels”, will translate into actual housekeeping requests. It’s also tuned in with any park opening and closing times, bus schedules, and directions that can all be checked with a simple “Hey Disney”.
When will they be installed?
The first devices are being implemented in the coming days and weeks, and guests have been told that cast members (Disney staff) may appear at their rooms to install them. If anyone doesn’t want the device in their room, they can request to have them removed.
Just don’t talk too loudly about how much better Universal Studios is…