Walt Disney World gets Minecraft world, exec says at IAAPA

An official Walt Disney World re-creation in the popular world of Minecraft will include new adventures, character interactions and more.

Walt Disney Company’s chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro announced the experience, which will debut Tuesday, during a keynote speech at the biggest theme park and attractions conference in the world, IAAPA.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions returns to Orlando this week after a one-year hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

While the conference focuses on theme parks, amusement rides and other recreational businesses, IAAPA also showcases the steadily growing technology aspect of the industry.

Walt Disney World’s debut in the Minecraft world will not be the 50-year-old company’s first foray into the popular virtual world.

The company has previously supported worlds based on the Star Wars galaxy, “Frozen” and “Toy Story.”

The Minecraft experience will include virtual autographs, a fireworks show and other special features unique to the world.

D’Amaro’s wide-ranging speech focused on how Disney expects to emerge from the pandemic along with how the unexpected stoppage gave it an opportunity to rethink some of its priorities.

“When you need to change something … it’s pretty hard to do when the train is moving as fast as it has been,” he said. “Our train came to a complete stop.”

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D’Amaro was the highlight in a day full of educational sessions for those in the industry.

Representatives from other companies with Orlando presence, including SeaWorld and Gatorland, also helped lead seminars throughout the day.

The always popular IAAPA Expo is expected to open at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, showcasing dozens of businesses in Central Florida, allowing them to rub elbows with industry leaders.

The tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the historic pandemic. That remained evident at the Orange County Convention Center with many people wearing masks and hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the building.

The company’s immense footprint allows it to think differently than other businesses, D’Amaro said.

“We are literally building the future and our goal is to connect with our guests and make their experience better than ever,” he said. “We can’t let ourselves get tied down to yesterday as a proxy to what we do tomorrow.”

While D’Amaro touched heavily on the company’s emergence from the pandemic, he also focused a good part of his speech on technology.

In one video, D’Amaro can be seen interacting with a roughly three-foot tall animatronic of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Groot.

As he walks away, D’Amaro says goodbye, to which baby Groot replies: “I am Groot.”

“We are looking at ways to bring our characters to life,” D’Amaro said. “We will need to think differently in terms of how we create the future. I see a new chapter coming.”

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