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Disney files patents for amusement park drones

You may soon be seeing drones at the Most Magical Place On Earth.

Walt Disney Company is filing paperwork for three drone-related patents to enhance its entertainment by using them to move projection screens and to help control aerial marionettes or puppets.

The report, which first appeared on Stitch Kingdom, a Disney fan blog, says that one of the applications is for a multi-drone system that would hold aloft a projection screen for a nighttime display. Such a display would utilize what Disney calls “flixels,” which is an Imagineer word creation for “floating pixels,” according to the patent application.

In the second patent application, Disney said “the UAVs execute the flight plans to move and to position the flexible projection screens within the display air space,” according to the patent application. These multiple flexible projection screens, Disney says, would have little wind resistance and offer a surface for reflecting light.

The third patent application would use multiple drones attached to balloons or super-large puppets to make them move – and in the case of the puppets, seemingly walk – as the drones control the movements of the characters’ limbs.

Disney says drones could lead to an era of aerial movie screens and larger-than-life puppets flying through the sky.

"This is a significant improvement over prior flying characters, which typically were provided in the form of parade or other blimps/balloons filled with hot air or other gases and that had little and/or awkward articulation of any movable parts," the company said in its patent application.

The company hopes that its drone-powered air shows could serve as an alternative to fireworks and large-scale light shows.

The FAA is in the process of drafting rules for the commercial use of drones that could impact drone use by an array of industries including television news, civil engineering and package delivery.