Remembering Body Wars
By Jim Korkis
When Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced more information about the Avatar themed area coming to Disney Animal Kingdom, he stated that "Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee." A Banshee is a predatory flying creature imagined by the film's director James Cameron to somewhat resemble a dragon that inhabits the mountainous region of Pandora.
Reportedly, this experience will be created using the same motion simulator technology used in the Star Tours attraction with some enhancements.
My interest in this new attraction is tempered by the memory that while I could handle Star Tours (although other guests can't), I always had difficulty with the Body Wars attraction that utilized the exact same technology.
Both attractions used a simulator (Rediffusion ATLAS-Advanced Technology Leisure Application Simulator) that consists of a cabin supported by six servo actuators ("legs"). The actuators are powered hydraulically and driven automatically using electrical drive signals received from a free-standing motion-control cabinet.
The actuators provide "six degree of freedom movement" so the cabin can be moved in planes representing heave, surge and sway and in axes representing pitch, roll and yaw independently or in any combination.
In fact, the success of Star Tours in 1987 inspired the Imagineers to try developing an "inner space" attraction of a miniaturized submarine-like probe journeying through a patient's body just like in the film Fantastic Voyage (1966) for the "Wonders of Life" pavilion at Epcot in 1989.
The new attraction was called Body Wars most likely because Disney guests called Star Tours the Star Wars ride or just Star Wars.
Some Walt Disney Imagineers felt that it was just the images of being inside a human body with all the yucky "blood and guts" that generated feelings of unease.
Whatever the reason, the experience proved that using the exact same motion control technology could result in drastically different physical experiences. So I cautiously, rather than joyously, anticipate the ability to ride a Banshee.
Did any of the readers of this blog have a similar experience where Body Wars was just too rough an experience?
RELATED INFORMATION AND LINKS
Disney Historian Jim Korkis goes up into his imaginary attic to rummage around his archives and often stumbles across an unusual story about Walt Disney World. Those who have met me know that I take real joy in talking about Walt Disney.
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Full features from the Walt Disney World Chronicles series by Jim Korkis can be found in the AllEars® Archives: http://allears.net/ae/archives.htm
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Korkis is an internationally respected Disney Historian who has written hundreds of articles about all things Disney for more than three decades. As a former Walt Disney World cast member, his skills and historical knowledge were utilized by Disney Entertainment, Imagineering, Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes Marketing, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Feature Animation Florida, Disney Institute, WDW Travel Company, Disney Vacation Club and many other departments.
He is the author of three new books, available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com:
The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse
Who's Afraid of the Song of the South AND
"The REVISED Vault of Walt":