In a recent DIS article, "Bob Iger Says Disney Reality Can Be Augmented, Never Virtual", when Mr. Iger said "never" it reminded me of an alleged statement Bill Gates said at a computer trade show in 1981. Bill Gates supposedly uttered this statement, in defense of the just-introduced IBM PC's 640KB usable RAM limit: "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
What if Disney World went the way of virtual reality, I wondered......
The year, 2071.
A delicate “bong” sound tells Jim he’s got mail. Jim heard it and makes his way to the front door through his home while the rest of the family is still asleep. Jim’s home is mostly stark white. Vast open areas, highly polished floors, white vinyl furniture, with harsh square edges.
The inside walls are empty and white, and the outer walls are walls of glass to the outdoors. Outside there is barely a horizon, mostly gray and fog, nothing to see as Jim moves to the door. Jim sees Al the postman through the door’s video display and opens the door.
"Good morning Jim, here’s your mail." "Thanks Al," Jim continues their running joke, “So Al, when they gonna shut down the postal service?” Al says, ”next week maybe." They both laugh and exchange goodbyes, and Jim closes the door. The hum of the automatic digital deadbolt is heard as he walks away.
Jim shuffles through his mail and he finds his Walt Disney World "One Hundredth Anniversary" Vacation Package!
A big smile comes over his face. He puts down the rest of the mail and runs to the closest home controller.
He presses a few buttons and all of a sudden, the house erupts with the sounds of “When you wish upon a star”. Jim can hear the cheers from his two kids and wife as they run into the living room cheering, “We are going to Walt Disney World!”
The family gathers around Jim in sheer excitement. Jim opens the package and out slides the four bionic modules. “Here are our keys to the world,” Jim says.
Starting with his daughter Jane, he delicately places Jane’s module on the magnetic connector on her right temple. Next his son Billy, next his wife Sue. Jim glances at his antique 1982 EPCOT Center watch, its 7:30 AM. He connects his module to his temple.
The family wakes in the historic Bay Lake Tower resort. The Walt Disney World Resort had grown to over 2000 resorts if you count the ones on the Moon and Mars, but Jim’s family loves the old-fashioned style of the historic Bay Lake Tower, right here in the Republic of Reedy Creek.
They make their way and instantly get on the monorail, and it’s off to the Magic Kingdom. It’s a beautiful day and they breeze through the gate and are in the park. The park is crowded, but everyone is happy. Peter Pan is a favorite so they go there first and they walk right on the ride and have a good time. Then hit the Mine Train, Pooh, small world, and PhilharMagic; all with no wait. They catch the train, no wait, and do both Splash and Thunder Mountains, breezing onto the rides.
Historic Bay Lake Tower, circa 2010
They are feeling hungry so they decide to have lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. They jump on the train and it’s back to Main Street. They walk into The Castle and are instantly seated.
It’s a great lunch. There are no menus, there are no checks, no money, the family is served instantly and it’s exactly whatever they wanted to have for lunch. All the Characters knew the family by name. It was a blast. Happy and full, Jim’s family is happily skipping down Main Street.
All of a sudden, everything goes white… VR SYSTEM FAULT. Please contact customer service…
Jim's family wakes on the sofa of their living room. “It happened again Dad,” Billy says. “Yeah,” Jim says, “another system crash of Disney's Virtual Reality Systems."
The family sadly removes their modules and hands them to Jim. Jim says, “I will send these back and see If I can get some new ones." Jim glances at his watch, its 7:35 AM. Jim says, “Go back to bed kids." The family sadly walks away.
Jim, now also depressed, slides the modules into the return envelope.
Just then, a delicate “bong”. Al is back. Jim answers the door. “Hi Jim. Here, I missed a piece of mail." Al hands him the mail. Jim hands Al the return envelope. Al recognizes the envelope and says, “Another system crash I take it?” Jim sadly says, "Yes." Al asks Jim jokingly, “When are they going to fix that Disney VRS?”
Jim plays along, ” Next week maybe."
Cinderella's Royal Table