If there's one question that you hear people asking around Disneyland more than any other, it is simply, "How'd they do that?" All the Disney parks are about creating experiences for guests that feel like magic, and so it's no surprise that Disneyland's newest parade which debuts on Friday, is called Magic Happens. Some of the technology on display at Disneyland is pretty close to magic already, and the new parade will be no exception. It's promising to show off some technological achievements that we haven't seen in parades before, but the most impressive apparently comes from Moana's friend Heihei.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the show director for Magic Happens, Jordan Peterson, who told me that, while the full Moana float in the new parade is the most technologically impressive, including flexible LED screens among other creations, what he believed would truly "steal the show" and leave people talking, was a separate "float" that would be completely automated, all thanks to a technical intern who designed the float for Heihei, which is essentially a robot. According to Peterson...
Heihei is a big part of the parade and he’s on his own little basket floating down Main Street if you will…Watching this girl, right out of college use this amazing STEM research to create this robot that helps Heihei move down the route, actually, it’s going to steal the show I think, people are going to love seeing him.
There are actually two separate floats in Magic Happens dedicated to Moana, the first includes the title character on her boat from the film, while the second will mark the in-park debut of Maui as a character. The concept art we've seen has shown us what these floats will look like, but Heihei has been conspicuously absent from that art.
This "floating" basket with Heihei will apparently be a separate parade object, but it's so small that it could not be driven like a standard parade float. So instead, Heihei is essentially a robot that makes its own way through the parade. It seems that the technology that makes Heihei work is fairly cutting edge, so much so that it was the technical Intern, using new research, who figured out how to make it work.
That's not to say Heihei will be the only character in Magic Happens that Jordan Peterson thinks will impress people. Several of the floats will include animated characters that are more complex than anything a Disney parade has seen to date. Specifically, Peterson told me he thinks the living skeletons of Hector and Imelda on the Coco float will especially impress...
I think when you first get a chance to meet Hector and Imelda, It’s Hector and Imelda. They have stepped straight out of the Land of the Dead and out onto the streets of Disneyland.
Other floats in the parade include seeing Arthur and Merlin from The Sword in the Stone, Cinderella, The Princess and the Frog and of course, Mickey Mouse and his friends.
Creating this new parade has been a two and half year process for Jordan Peterson, and now, he's about to see the show finally come to life. Magic Happens will make its debut at Disneyland on February 28.