The Disney Epic Games Partnership: Major Impact for Theme Parks?

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Disney Epic Games Partnership

Hey Disney fans, and theme park goers! In early February 2024, Disney dropped a bombshell that reverberated through the entertainment and gaming worlds alike. With a cool $1.5 billion, Disney announced its partnership with Epic Games, a move poised to redefine the boundaries of gaming and entertainment. This isn’t just any collaboration; it’s a monumental investment by Disney into Epic Games, heralding the dawn of a new era in the “games and entertainment universe.” This partnership aims to catapult the massive popularity of Fortnite into new, uncharted territories. But, could there be larger impacts beyond the gaming world. Let’s dive into the intricacies of this groundbreaking Disney Epic Games partnership as it relates to theme parks.

Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, couldn’t contain his excitement about the partnership at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on March 5, 2024. He shared visions of a “Disney universe,” akin to a metaverse, where fans can immerse themselves in Disney IP, including Marvel, Pixar, and “Star Wars.” This universe will allow consumers to create their own games using Disney’s IP and engage with games developed by Disney and Epic. Additionally, players will have the opportunity to purchase digital goods, with Epic shouldering the development costs. In return, Disney has agreed to take an equity position in Epic.

However, the buzz isn’t just about Disney’s foray into the gaming industry; it’s about the potential theme park implications of this partnership. At first glance, Epic Games, known for hits like Fortnite, might not seem like a natural fit for theme park attractions. Yet, this is where the plot thickens. A key piece of technology from Epic Games, the Unreal Engine, is already revolutionizing how we experience entertainment, as seen in “The Mandalorian” on Disney+. The Unreal Engine is the technology used within the show to create the worlds Mando and Grogu venture through.

The Unreal Engine, a pinnacle of real-time 3D creation tools, is designed to bring breathtaking real-time experiences to life. It’s an AI-driven graphics programming model that empowers developers to realize their most ambitious projects. Interestingly, Disney is already utilizing the Unreal Engine in its theme parks. While NVIDIA’s GPUs garnered attention for their role in the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction, the Unreal Engine is the unsung hero, powering the immersive world you fly through withing this state-of-the-art interactive experience.

This raises a crucial question: Does the Disney Epic Games partnership impose any restrictions on the use of the Unreal Engine by Disney’s theme park competitors? While the specifics may be shrouded in secrecy due to NDAs, the industry, and theme parks fans, will undoubtedly watch closely to see if other theme parks adopt the Unreal Engine for new attractions going forward.

Even if there are no explicit restrictions, Disney’s significant investment in Epic Games might deter competitors from using the Unreal Engine, fearing Disney’s potential visibility over projects utilizing this technology. That’s right, now that Disney is part owner of the business they are able to see any and everything under development within Epic Games.

As we speculate about the future, the real excitement lies in how Disney plans to leverage the Unreal Engine within its theme parks. Could the PLAY! Pavilion at EPCOT be revived? Or might the former NBA Experience be transformed into a cutting-edge, immersive gaming experience? The possibilities are endless, and the Disney Epic Games partnership could very well usher in a new era of theme park attractions. Creating worlds that theme park fans have only dreamt about exploring.

While the gaming world eagerly anticipates the development of “Disney Universes,” the theme park industry stands on the cusp of a revolution. The Disney Epic Games partnership my not be just about creating new gaming experiences; it’s could also be reimagining what theme parks can be. As we look forward to the innovations this partnership will bring, one thing is clear: the future of theme parks just got a whole lot more exciting.

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Meet the Author: Nate Bishop

I’m a die-hard Disney fan with 38 years of visits under my belt, having stepped into Disney World 120+ times. Proud to be a Disney Annual Passholder, a Vacation Club member since ’92, a Castaway Club Member, and a runDisney enthusiast. Oh, and I’ve graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge. Need Disney insights or planning tips? I’m your guy!


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