Disney World in 3D Through Google Earth

Whilst this feature sadly isn’t for Disneyland Paris and is [currently only] for Disney World Orlando, it’s still a pretty sweet new feature and hopefully a sign of things to come. Google and Disney have teamed up to created a complete 3D map of Disney World for browsers to peruse as they choose. I thought I’d get in and take a look at how well it works.

A screenshot of Disney World in 3D from Google Earth

The last time I used Google Earth was around when it was first released and I found it a bit slow and fiddly, which rendered it mostly useless for me. It’s definitely improved a bit since then, certainly speed-wise, but the controls still don’t feel quite responsive enough and it’s initially confusing to work out which of the controls is turning and which is moving, and how to navigate quickly in 3D.

Despite those problems, I still had a good look at Disney World in 3D. It’s good to get an idea of perspective and just how big the place is. You could also plan a route, find the best place to park, see where exactly your hotel is. There’s definitely no shortage of uses for this update. You don’t have to roam around aimlessly, either. You get given options of places to visit via a pop-up and upon clicking, you’ll whiz to that location.

I think it also is quite fun for kids. I remember spending hours just eyeing a paper map of Alton Towers when I was really little. Being able to explore a full virtual 3D map of Disney pretty much blows that out of the water. It’s also probably handy for reference and research. If you need to know where a particular place is or more info about a certain property in Disney World, this could be a great way of finding out.

Still, despite its uses, the software hampers the experience. It’s difficult to really pinpoint an angle and get the camera in just the place you want. Google Earth might benefit not just from control improvements, but to have a pedestrian feature where you can actually walk around. You can’t really get a proper idea of the size of buildings by just floating aimlessly above them. I definitely like the idea of a full 3D map of Disney, but it’s still a long way off being really effective.

If you want to try it for yourself, you’ll need the latest Google Earth. Download and install, then run it. Search for “Disney World” on the left hand side and wait whilst it rotates the Earth and zooms in. After it’s finished loading, you should see golden Mickey’s ears in the centre of the map – click them to get started.

Tower of Terror Plunges into Action

The Tower of Terror is Disneyland Paris’ latest addition to the popular theme park. Aiming to add to Disneyland’s thrill seeking repertoire, Tower of Terror – open from Saturday April 5th 2008, has already proven to be a hit at other worldwide Disney resorts. The ride is set in the late 1930s and explores the floors of old tower via an old, creaking elevator. Naturally, it’s all about attention to detail and how each little item gives the Tower of Terror a proper atmosphere. Sat awkwardly in the lift, you’ll shoot up the 56m shaft and plummet down a 38m drop, through the various floors of half-finished card games and eerie sounds. Just what happened in the Tower of Terror? Well, nobody really knows…

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror Advertising

Building up the hype for Tower of Terror, Disney have wandered down many avenues in order to get the big thrill ride directly to the front of your mind. The scheme includes adding your photo to the website and being featured on huge advertising billboards with built-on models of the Tower, interactive posters appearing at bus stops and amending actual lifts in shopping malls to look like the Tower of Terror lift. Yet, perhaps the most interesting piece was the sudden appearance of the elevator shaft bursting up from underneath Leicester Square (see above image).

Tower of Terror

Other Tower of Terror Rides

It’s by no means the first version of Tower of Terror to appear at a Disney resort. The first dates back to 1994 when the Hollywood Tower Hotel opened its crooked gates to the public in Florida. Then again in 2004 the Tower opened in California. The third version of the ride opened in Tokyo (see above image) and is probably the most intriguing of all four versions. The strange shape of the building really makes it look enticing and you want to explore its every room. It tells the story of the disappearance of its owner, Harrison Hightower III, who had stolen an idol from a mysterious spirit named Shiriki Utundu. It was a more ambitious project than the other Tower of Terror rides, with an estimated cost of $190 million!

I do like big thrill rides and so I’m keen to go and check out the Tower of Terror in Paris. I just hope that all the integral parts of the ride are done as well as it sounds. Without the atmosphere, the ride itself might fail to impress. It’s open to all now anyway, so go check it out!