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.

Google Maps Mobile Integrates Public Transport Timetables

The Google Mobile Blog has recently posted about Google Maps integrating public transport information for mobiles in version 2.2. The timetables mirror those Google Transit areas already available.

Google Maps Clapham

Sadly, this won’t mean a great to deal to us guys in the UK, but it is a big step in the right direction. It was only the other day that I’d got lost in Clapham and was using Google Maps to find my way home. I was cursing the little map for not showing me bus times and stumbled around town checking all the stops for directions.

Obviously, you have to be pretty stupid to get lost in Clapham, but soon maybe I’ll be able to disguise my stupidity with this feature. Instead of having to keep flipping between Google Maps and a timetable site, it will all be in one easy-to-find place. Well, it will be for Americans. It’s not clear how long we’ll have to wait for the process to start up here, but surely it can’t be too long. Google seem to be really pushing Google Maps stuff at the moment. Following the addition of photos and Wikipedia entries, this is another great move.

It’s particularly useful for travellers, though. If you’re visiting a new place, you’re obviously not going to know all the transport links. I noticed that Google had already linked in with partners to provide timetables for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland which is really brilliant and exactly the kind of thing we need.

One feature that I think still might be missing from Google Maps is the ability to download a whole area. Would that be possible or is it a pipe dream? Recently I discovered you can download the entire Wikipedia and save it to read on your mobile and it’s only about 2gb in total. I wondered if the same would be possible for Google Maps. I’m not sure how much data is being transferred but it is frustrating having to wait for a new area to load. Downloading the latest build to your computer and then transferring it to your phone would make the whole process much quicker and you wouldn’t have to use the Internet when checking, saving you tons on that data plan.