PLANT

Powering imagination

Bringing Disney's magic to life.


Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is powered by the Siemens ride control system. PHOTO: DISNEY

Disney’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is powered by the Siemens ride control system. PHOTO: DISNEY

The Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. does not come to mind as a venue for a global manufacturing giant like Siemens AG to score branding points with the general public.

But when it comes to The Walt Disney Co., anything is possible.

Thanks to a $100 million strategic partnership formed in 2005, Siemens is now powering the attractions that bring the entertainment company’s imaginative characters to life with a number of its automation, networking, monitoring and safety technologies, and its brand is getting noticed.

Siemens, the German manufacturing conglomerate that employs more than 360,000 people around the world, makes almost nothing that the average Disney World visitor might want to buy, yet its brand is everywhere. Disney’s Epcot theme park is now home to the Siemens VIP Centre, where the company invites employees and quests to experience its latest technologies, seminars and other events.

And it sponsors the Spaceship Earth attraction, which includes 9,000-square feet of interactive exhibits based on Siemens technology, including Scalance networking and monitoring devices that improve system diagnostics and uptime.

Mine Train cars swing riders back and forth. PHOTO: DISNEY

Mine Train cars swing riders back and forth. PHOTO: DISNEY

In May, Disney completed its “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” roller coaster, the final piece of a multi-year expansion of Fantasyland, the largest in the nearly 43-year history of the Magic Kingdom. The family-style coaster, inspired by Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs, features first-of-its-kind cars that swing back and forth. It’s powered by Siemens ride control systems, which are similar to those being used in Disney’s “Cars Land Adventure Park” in Anaheim, Calif., where talking cars challenge each other across a colourful desert slot car race track that covers more than 12 acres. That much acreage conceals a whole lot of Siemens technology behind a mountainous façade, such as Simatic S7 319F failsafe controllers that monitor all circuitry and wireless access points; Sinamics G120 variable frequency drivers that drive the race cars; programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that control drives and supply power; and universal series interfaces that allow PLCs to communicate with the ride’s control room.
Disney says attendance has risen at its California Adventure Park since Cars Land opened in 2012.

Saving energy
Meanwhile, Space Mountain uses Siemens Sinamic G120 safety regenerative drives to put energy used by the roller coaster back into the park’s electrical infrastructure. At Hollywood Studios, Siemens master drives help linear induction motors increase acceleration of the Aerosmith-themed Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

But the relationship involves more than the attractions.

At more than 100 square kilometres, the resort is so big it’s treated as its own municipality. The Reedy Creek Improvement District is tasked with supplying utility needs to the park and provides wastewater treatment, collection and reclamation; generation and distribution; waste disposal; natural gas distribution; and water distribution services.

Siemens has a part in that, too, supplying drives and motor controls to produce millions of gallons of cool water at night for air conditioning to keep the 25 million annual visitors and 65,000 resort staff comfortable in central Florida’s often overwhelming heat and humidity.

Disney’s impressive transit system is also powered by Siemens electronics, including S7 PLCs and Scalance fibre-optic networking to shuttle visitors around four theme parks and 36 resorts.

And as families experience the Disney dream, they’re at least more aware of from whom some of the magic comes.

Comments? E-mail mpowell@plant.ca.

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*