Disney CEO Bob Chapek plotting a metaverse for Disney+

Disney CEO Bob Chapek plotting a metaverse for Disney+

Disney bets the Mouse House on virtual reality: Beleaguered CEO Bob Chapek reveals plans for a ‘lifestyle experience’ metaverse that will recreate their theme parks online – and hints Hulu will merge with streaming service

  • CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow people to experience park rides in virtual reality
  • With Disney preparing for its 100-year anniversary, Chapek characterized the metaverse plans as the brand’s way into the future
  • Chapek said people would be able to explore the sets of rides and interact with characters
  • The metaverse would also work with real-world visits to Disney theme parks, with customer’s streaming services being tailored to what they did at the parks

Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park.

CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow people to experience park rides in virtual reality.

‘We call it next-gen storytelling’ Chapek said in an interview with Deadline, noting that he preferred not to use the phrase metaverse ‘because it has a lot of hair on it.’

Chapek also hinted he was considering merging Hulu – which Disney bought a one-third share of in 2019 – with Disney+ to bring more mature content to the platform, but noted that wasn’t likely unless Hulu was fully owned.

‘We want Disney to be a grand unifier,’ he said. 

With Disney preparing for its 100-year anniversary, Chapek characterized the metaverse plans as the brand’s way into the future.

‘We do appreciate the past, but we also know that we don’t want to become dinosaurs,’ he said.

‘Disney+ will not just be a movie service platform, but it’s going to become an experiential lifestyle platform. A platform for the whole company to embody both the physical things that you might be able to experience in a theme park, but also the digital experiences that you can get through media.’ 

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow people to experience park rides in virtual reality

Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park

Chapek said a Disney metaverse would be able to bring the theme park experience to ’90 percent’ of people who want to visit the park but are unable to.

‘We wish every person would have the opportunity to come to our parks, but we realize that’s not a reality for some people,’ he told Deadline, ‘In order to reach the 90% of people that will never ever be able to get to a Disney park, we have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform to an experiential platform and give them the ability to ride Haunted Mansion from a virtual standpoint.’

Chapek noted the virtual reality experience could go beyond simply sitting in the car and experiencing the ride the way park-goers do, but would allow people to step off of the tracks and explore the ride sets up close.

‘Maybe we’ll give them the opportunity what every single person in the park wants to do, and unfortunately too many of them do it, just to get off the attraction. See how it works, see how those ghost dancers move,’ he said.

He said people could also interact with characters on rides to allow them a deeper depth of experience than could be gained in person.

‘When I talked to you about being in an attraction and being able to get off and check things out like that animatronic figure that looks like Jack Sparrow. Let’s go check them out from 360 degrees interact with Jack Sparrow. That’s the ultimate expression.’

Disney’s metaverse would allow people to experience park rides like the Haunted Mansion without ever setting foot in Disney World

Chapek noted the virtual reality experience could go beyond simply sitting in the car and experiencing the ride the way park-goers do, but would allow people to step off of the tracks and explore the ride sets up close

Chapek said the metaverse would also work in conjunction with real-world visits to Disney theme parks.

By allowing Disney to track their experience within the park, Chapek said customers would then be able to log onto Disney+ once they return home and be given a streaming experience tailored based on what they did throughout their Disney visit.

‘When a family comes to our parks, we know exactly what you did. Let’s say you stay a week. We got seven days, 24 hours a day. We know everything that you do in the park,’ he said. 

‘And if you give us the permission and ability through the membership app, we’ll program your Disney+ experience, not according to what you watched last or what other people who watch this show, but to what you did, what you experienced.’

Chapek said the metaverse would also work in conjunction with real-world visits to Disney theme parks

With Disney preparing for its 100-year anniversary, Chapek characterized the metaverse plans as the brand’s way into the future

As for merging Hulu with Disney+, Chapek said his hands were tied for the moment.

‘Right now we don’t have the ability to make them one because we don’t have the rights. We don’t have full ownership of Hulu.’

He noted though that if Disney were to gain control of Hulu, whether or not it was merged with Disney+ would be left largely up to their subscribers desires.

‘We will be guided by today’s consumers understanding and desires for the elasticity of Disney as opposed to something that may be in some people’s minds of what Disney was 50 years ago,’ he said.

‘I will tell you this, it is much more elastic than any of us ever imagined it could be.’ 

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