Inspired by Walt Disney

"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." -Walt Disney

Words from the man who inspired millions to dream bigger resonated with us as we undertook developing Disney Augmented. As huge Disney fans, we wanted to add another level of interactivity to Disney theme parks and entertain park visitors. We were disappointed by the hostile user design of the printed maps and lack of interaction between visitors and their environments in less staffed regions of the park. To solve these issues, we believe Augmented Reality (AR) can help immerse users in their environments at Disney and create new opportunities for interactions. This will create a more entertaining and memorable user experience for all Disney Park visitors.

What is it?

Our Disney Augmented app adds another level to the Disney experience. Navigating parks can always be a challenge to families, and paper and mobile maps can often be complicated and annoying. The Disney Augmented app provides real-time Augmented Reality navigation, allowing users to point their phone in the direction and get pinpoint locations with distances, and wait-times to sites of interest (in AR). Moreso, users can get additional information from the environment like seeing hovering AR displays from scanning ride signs and seeing additional live AR graphics of relevant Disney characters in the environments they are in. Click here to preview the real-time Augmented Reality navigation used in Stanford's Campus

Second, our Disney augmented app adds additional ways for the users to engage in the environment in the form of mini-games. Users can use the app to interact with the park in novel ways such as embarking on a scavenger hunt for hidden mickeys using the app to track their progress and get hints. Click here to preview the Hidden Mickey Scavenger Hunt Game

Developing the App

We set up this project using Apple's ARKit with the goal in mind to create an Augmented Reality application for user's to use while in a Disney park. This project was composed of two verticals:

1) A focus on a more user-friendly AR map to rides with information on rollercoasters

2) A focus on designing an interactive game for tourists as they walked through the park or were idly standing in line

We iteratively developed a virtual world around any user and using data from their phone's kinetic sensors and live GPS data, we create a 3D coordinate system around them highlighting nearby landmarks and suspend information about each landmark in the real world. Further, we created an ARResource Group database of many pictures of Hidden Mickeys and created a detection algorithm that highlights when users have found a Hidden Mickey and we will create a plane in front of the Hidden Mickey and provide a special video and congratulations to the user.


In creating the AR Map software, we found it especially challenging to create persisting and localized labels that accurately showed users key landmarks around them with respect to user's locations. We made use of existing SLAM techniques and linear algebra abstractions to create accurate resizeable scaled mappings of user's surroundings using real-time data from the phone's sensor kinetics (such as the gyroscope and camera) and Google Map latitude and longitudinal data.

In creating the Hidden Mickey Mouse Scavenger Hunt Game, we ran into hurdles with developing an algorithm to detect Hidden Mickeys. Ultimately we ended up creating a database of existing images of Hidden Mickeys and used computer vision techniques to find whether the camera feed detected the presence of a Hidden Mickey.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of finishing this hackathon and shipping a prototype. This was our first hackathon and we learned so much with developing with ARKit. We came in on Friday with no knowledge of ARKit and spent all weekend learning because we were so inspired to create an innovative AR experience for kids to enjoy at Disney. There were more than a few times during the weekend when we thought we couldn’t get a demo working, but we ended up working through it all.

What we learned

Through undertaking this project we learned more of the iOS development process and specifically expressed mastery of augmented reality design and existing Apple packages such as ARKit, Vision, CoreML, and CoreLocation. We learned more about the potential of AR in creating better applications rooted in Human-Computer Interaction. Finally, we learned how to interface our backgrounds in statistics, mathematics, and machine learning into new endeavors in computer vision such as with the problem of simultaneous localization and mapping.

What's next for Disney Augmented

We hope we can continue to work on developing this AR experience and integrate it into Disney’s official mobile app for everyone to use. It’d be our dream come true to inspire others to dream bigger and to experience an immersive experience through this AR app. Our label can easily be integrated with the current Disney World app to include information such as wait time, height requirements, and accessibility services to accommodate all parties. In the future, we hope to create additional landmarks for users to take advantage of such as bathrooms, dining areas, shops, and other 'hidden secrets'.

At the moment, what's next for Disney Augmented is bringing signs to life - creating stronger visual and infographics that users can read on the go to make their Disney experience better.

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