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Topic: Everest built with computer software by Disney, Disney shares program with others, too!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >

RichKoster Offline

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Posted: Oct. 13, 2003 2:26 am/pm Quote

How to Build A Mountain

At Disneyland, contractors must remove a giant crane from the temporarily closed ride by 2 p.m. every day to make way for the parade


Quick quote:
Get this: in the middle of sun-drenched Orlando, Fla. The Walt Disney Co. is erecting a 200-foot-high replica of snow-covered Mount Everest. It's a showcase attraction scheduled to open in 2006 at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. The premise: Visitors board an old mountain railway headed to the foot of Mount Everest. As the train climbs higher into "the Himalayas," it passes thick bamboo forests, thundering waterfalls and shimmering glacier fields. But the track ends unexpectedly in a gnarled mass of twisted metal. Suddenly the train begins racing forward and backward through caverns and icy canyons until riders come face to face with a giant hairy creature--the mythical yeti.

It's enough to scare the wits out of Don W. Goodman, who has the job of ensuring that the $100 million roller coaster is finished on time--and on budget. It is a logistical nightmare: Hundreds of workers from independent contractors must simultaneously build the roller coaster and the mountain that contains it. They will erect 1,200 tons of steel and install four acres of rockwork.

Goodman, president of Disney's Imagineering research lab, compares it to assembling a 3-D puzzle. It is difficult to anticipate the conflicts that will arise, say, between workers installing faux rock formations and crane operators erecting steel tracks. Each snafu can add cost and delay. But the challenge will be made easier, Goodman says, by new software, developed in-house, that lets architects, engineers and contractors peer into the future.

By marrying an architect's 3-D, computer-aided design images with planning software that tracks construction schedules in real time, Disney (NYSE:DIS - News) can create a virtual "movie" of the Expedition Everest project. This 4-D software--the fourth dimension being time--breaks down a .3-D image of a project into millions of pieces of data and then reassembles it step-by-step, in the sequence in which the structure will be built, to visualize how it will all come together.

Better yet, Disney's theme-park software can be used to map out almost any construction project--amusement park, office building or even an underwater pipeline. That is why Disney, uncharacteristically, has formed an independent company, Common Point, to sell the software to other companies.

[...]Disney first used its special 4-D software to build California Screamin', a $50 million roller coaster at Disney's California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Calif [...and then...] the park's entire Paradise Pier section.

[...]In Hong Kong the 4-D technology is being used to build Space Mountain at the new Disneyland theme park, set to open by early 2006. And the software has been especially useful in Disney's most vexing project: the reconstruction of the 26-year-old Space Mountain at the original Disneyland in Anaheim. Among the hassles: Contractors must remove a giant crane from the temporarily closed ride by 2 p.m. every day to make way for the Mickey Mouse parade.

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