Today, the SmarterPlanet exhibit, which is sponsored by IBM, opened at Innoventions West in Epcot. The Grand Opening event was attended by both IBM executives as well as senior Walt Disney World Cast Members.
The Grand Opening ceremony got underway with Vanessa Rosas, Walt Disney World Ambassador, welcoming everyone to the exhibit and then introducing Dan Cockerell, Vice President of Epcot. Dan spoke of the importance of the Disney / IBM relationship and of outstanding cooperation and teamwork between the two companies to design and build this exhibit.
Vanessa Rosas, Walt Disney World Ambassador:
Dan Cockerell, Vice President of Epcot
Dan then introduced Gary Cohen, General Manager of Global Communications Sector, IBM Corporation. Gary explained the goal of the exhibit "is to offer park guest a behind the scenes glimpse of how technology is helping solve the world's most complex problems - from reducing road traffic and city crime to improving food safety and local water supplies." This is done by encouraging guests to think about their role in creating a smarter planet.
Gary Cohen, General Manager of Global Communications Sector, IBM Corporation
Vanessa and Dan present Gary Cohen a beautiful crystal Mickey in honor of the opening of the exhibit and of their long term relationship.
After Gary spoke none other than Mickey Mouse joined Dan Cockerell and Gary Cohen on stage to cut the ribbon. Vanessa Rosas, the Walt Disney World Ambassador, lead the countdown to the ribbon cutting.
After the ceremony I was fortunate enough to interview Gary Cohen and David Padmos of IBM. Dave is the Managing Director, Communications Sector, IBM and is the person responsible for the Walt Disney World account. I asked the both of them "why Disney and Walt Disney World"? Gary responded by saying that IBM's hope is that because of the number of guests who visit Walt Disney World annually that IBM believes it's a great place to reach both adults and children with such an important message. The goal is to help guest understand the role technology plays in helping to solve some of the greatest problems facing our society." Gary also pointed out that this exhibit compliments IBM's nationwide Smarter Plant TV and print ad campaign.
Dave's response was "why not Disney?". He went on to explain how they hope the exhibit will encourage children to excel in math and science; and Innoventions in Epcot is the perfect place to do that."
In addition I had the opportunity to speak with Brent Strong a Disney Imagineer who worked on developing the Runtime section of the SmaterPlanet exhibit. Brent said that "working with IBM they wanted to develop a fun and engaging experience that also taught about many of IBM's innovations. It was important to be able to display the full range of IBM technology in such a way that was educational, fun and entertaining."
Here's a picture of Brent Strong, Disney Imagineer:
OK, so let me give you some of the details of the SmarterPlanet exhibit. The exhibit consists of three separate areas: SmartPlanet Kiosks, Smarter Data Center and Runtime. The runtime area has been open for a year or so and hasn't been changed.
The SmarterPlanet Kiosks allow guest to do two different things. The can vote on smarter planet issues and they can match solutions to our planets greatest concerns. The goal here is to help guest understand how IBM technologies are integrated into everyday life.
The SmarterData Center allows guest to look into a fully functioning data center. This data center is responsible for running the SmarterPlanet exhibit. This is not an interactive exhibit.
The third element is Runtime. Here guests star in their own video game. There are six captures stations where you run, jump, etc. Then an avatar of you is created and you then move through the game competing against the clock. As you play the game you travel through a timeline of IBM's achievementa in the history of computing. You can even email your avatar to yourself so you can play the game at home.
One last look at the SmaterPlanet wall.
I would encourage both adults and children to come in and explore this exhibit. I believe that the interactive exhibit will engage children and will help everyone become more aware of the efforts to find solutions to our most pressing problems.
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Well, that’s all for now. As my good friend says “see ya real soon”….DizneyMike
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