Someday you may be able to experience for yourself what every comic book fan dreams of -- hurling a Vibranium shield right into the face of Red Skull. Presently, such a moment of catharsis is only available to the fictional hero Captain America, but a new patent application from Disney for a theme park attraction might change all that.
News of the patent comes courtesy of Digital Trends and shows plans for an elaborate mechanism that would allow park guests to hurl a shield just like Captain America. According to the patent, a physical rail would be attached to a parkgoer’s arm along with a replica Captain America shield. When the park guest motions to throw the shield, the shield would slide down the rail and a motion sensor within would track the object’s intended path, projecting its flight in a virtual reality simulation.
“In one embodiment, the throwing apparatus is a toy device that permits the user to play the role of a superhero who uses the projectile to attack virtual or physical targets (e.g., toys) or defend against attacks from the targets or other players in an immersive storytelling environment,” the patent application reads.
There’s not telling yet how Disney might pull off the virtual reality aspect of the proposed attraction, but both virtual and augmented reality is rapidly becoming more accepted and affordable. Modern virtual reality roller coasters have made a big splash at theme parks across the country since 2015, with roughly 20 operating in the United States presently. Disney’s own Toy Story Mania ride incorporates virtual reality headsets that let parkgoers interact with projected targets and rings.
By adding a physical element to the ride – the wrist-mounted shield-and-rail – it would seem that Disney is placing a bet on virtual reality peppered with actual props. The patent application even calls for kinetic feedback when the shield is recalled; the shield slides back up the rail, providing the physical sensation of it returning after it strikes its intended target.
Whether this patent application is eventually approved remains to be seen, but it’s not surprising that Disney would plan for a Captain America attraction given how much of Marvel’s hero pantheon has already been integrated into the company’s parks.
The Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! ride opened at Disney California Adventure in late May, replacing the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The ride tasks parkgoers with helping Rocket Raccoon recover the other members of the Guardians of the Galaxy team while upbeat pop music plays. Similarly, the Avengers Initiative lets children in the park train with the Avengers themselves.