Disney, who recently invested a billion dollars in their new Magic Band technology, has just announced their newest technological project: Magic Portals.
That’s right, Magic Portals. As in gateways that take you from one park to another, in the blink of an eye, simply by walking through them. We saw the precursor to this technology at Enchanted Tales with Belle, where the Beast’s magic mirror takes guests from Belle’s Cottage to the Beast’s castle. It was previously assumed these rooms were connected, but now we know this was a discreet test run of an undisclosed, patented scientific breakthrough (possibly with the aid of fairy dust, maybe even some mid-chlorines), that allows Imagineers to teleport guests in between parks that are miles apart in only a matter of seconds.
The technology is subtly and brilliantly revealed in the season premiere of Blackish, the ABC sitcom created by Kenya Barris, which took place in Disney World, because, you know, corporate synergy.
P.S. If you don’t watch Blackish, you should, it’s pretty funny.
This episode, however, more closely resembled the VHS planning videos we sent away for in the 90s. It dropped a lot of Disney marketing buzzwords that remind you there’s a ton of new attractions to see at Disney Parks, so you need to book a trip ASAP! Such as “Soarin Around the World,” “Frozen Ever After,” “Magic Bands,” and “Jim Rash is your VIP Disney Guide.”
…okay maybe that’s just a buzz word for me.
But the most startling new technology in the episode was showcased not by any specific attraction, but by the speed with which you can now travel in between attractions.
The B-Plot of the episode starts with Ruby and Pops (the grandparents of the family) pouting on Main Street of the Magic Kingdom with the rest of the family, firmly determined not to have a wonderful time at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
So they decide to take Dre’s credit-card-charging Magic Bands (see what they did there?) and head over to Epcot to “make it rain.” Bow (the mom), upon finding out that her preggo eggo can’t go on any of the fun rides, wanders off to find them, only to somehow stumble upon them at the Dawa Bar in Harambe Village in Animal Kingdom, despite Ruby and Pops telling the family they’d be in Epcot.
And anyone who has held their phones in the air trying to get enough signal to text their lost family members knows how hard it is to “stumble upon” the rest of your party in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (which, for reference, is 5.5 miles from Magic Kingdom).
Anyway, the curmudgeonly trio decide to go back to their hotel (Animal Kingdom Lodge, another buzz word/phrase/thing!), where it’s air conditioned. But they get lost and wander into Epcot (5.2 miles away), where they are accidentally ushered onto The Land’s new Soarin’ Around the World ride (full of “sensory delight” Ruby exclaims as a marketing rep smiles approvingly).
Then, while stumbling off the ride and looking for an exit, they decide to go on Dumbo, which is, of course, in New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom (4.2 miles away).
The only way you can accidentally stumble into three different parks while half heartedly trying to find an exit (“Oh, there’s an actual exit,” says Bow disappointedly when they finally see the Magic Kingdom exits, at the exact location where they started the episode from), and then somehow stumble upon the rest of the family back in the Animal Kingdom again…
…and then get back to Magic Kingdom again in time for the Wishes Fireworks Show…
…is for there to be actual magical portals that take you automagically from one park to the other, without ever getting on a bus, train, boat, or monorail. And you should be excited about this.
Need more evidence? The A-Plot of the episode follows the rest of the Johnson Family as they use Disney’s VIP Service to get them a private tour and front-of-the-line service. But we learn in the third act of the episode that they only bought seven hours worth of Jim Rash’s services. Yet, somehow, in that seven hours, the Johnson Family managed to get from Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom:
To the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios:
to Test Track at Epcot:
back to Magic Kingdom for Thunder Mountain, Main Street Photos, and Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial:
Reportedly then — via the “most shaded route” — to Frozen Ever After at Epcot (although we never see any footage there, I assume because even the camera crew was unable to get a FastPass):
And then back again to Magic Kingdom for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which I guess is what they used their FastPass on instead):
Then on to Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom, where Jim Rash is released from ABC’s guest spot contract and the Johnsons have to finally wait in a line at Expedition Everest:
And then, again, they all reunite back at Magic Kingdom in time for Tinker Bell’s Flight.
We know for sure this all took place in the same day, because, aside from Jim Rash only being there for seven hours, Bow exclaims to Dre how she just had “the best day!” when she finds him waiting outside of Expedition Everest. Even if you’re getting a private car service and ushered directly to the front of all lines, this kind of travel is only possible if you are stepping into one of those doorways from 8-bit video games that takes you immediately to a new location.
Therefore, it is official, Magic Portals are coming to Walt Disney World.
I, for one, am really excited for the official announcement once this technology exits the beta stage. Although, you have to admit, this was a pretty cool way to surreptitiously announce it. Of course, this new technology would require guests to purchase Park Hopper passes, which is sure to cause some consternation and negative press, given Disney’s already hiked admission prices and controversial paid extra hours events. Although, it could be argued, you’ll be saving more money in the long run by packing four days worth of vacation into one. Guess we’ll have to wait for the special Disney World episode of How to Get Away With Murder to learn more!