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Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and Hitachi Vantara Embark on a Magical Data-Driven Alliance

By: Brad Surak |
Chief Product and Strategy Officer

Michael Tschanz, Director of Technology and Analysis, Design and Engineering Technology and Analysis at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

Today, Hitachi Vantara announced that we have become the Official Ride and Show Analytics provider of the Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort. Working together, we will bring new levels of efficiency to attractions while enhancing the guest experience at both locations.

I’ve had the incredible pleasure to work with Michael Tschanz, who is the director of technology and analysis, design and engineering technology and analysis at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Michael is part of a multidisciplinary team focused on transportation, rides and more in the parks.

Today, I’m excited to talk more with him about this alliance and how together we are helping take the guest experience to entirely new levels using data.

Brad: Michael, you have been at Disney for more than 20 years. How have the attractions changed over this time and what impact has that had on your role?

Michael: Brad, as you know well, technologies are evolving more quickly today than ever. These advancements have allowed us to transform our rides to meet the growing expectations of our guests. We have been on a rocket ship of digital transformation moving from basic mechanical attractions that generate a few megabytes of data each day such as the Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, which features a handful of singing macaws, to self-driving vehicle ride attractions such as Indiana JonesTM Adventure at Disneyland Park.

As you would expect, with these technological advancements have come new challenges, which we have responded to by evolving our approach to make sure these rides are fully operational for our guests. Indiana JonesTM Adventure spawned the need for real-time control systems and Industrial Control PLCs that allow rides to have many vehicles on a track at the same time.

Brad: Michael, at Hitachi Vantara our customers look to us to help them digitally transform and become data-driven businesses. What is Disney’s data story and how important are these insights to your success?

Michael: As I touched on earlier, the attractions at the park generate incredible volumes of data and like many businesses, our goal is to get the right pieces to the right people precisely when they need it most in order to maintain an excellent guest experience.

Now, by examining this data we first make sure that attractions are running efficiently. At the same time, we can run predictive and prescriptive analytics to know when maintenance needs arise and then address it off-hours, before it can inhibit the guest experience.

Thanks to this data, we are able to deliver the vacation our guests have come to expect.

Brad: Michael can you talk about why you selected Hitachi Vantara?

Michael: We really needed to gain real-time access to data across the entire operational technology control system and that’s where Hitachi Vantara came into the picture. Today, Disney works with different electro mechanical systems, industry control manufacturers and drive manufacturers. We needed all these different data and components to come together. Hitachi Vantara has shown that it can look at the data from all these manufacturers and different foundational technologies. With that, we can work with Hitachi Vantara to create data-driven insights and then put those to work to ensure our attractions at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort are running as efficiently as possible.

Brad: What you just described there is what we call DataOps. It’s exciting to see that Walt Disney World Resort® and Disneyland Resort® recognize the importance of DataOps. Can you share with us what specific offerings you are using and how it works?

Michael: Today, Hitachi Vantara is providing Disney Parks with advanced Lumada internet of things (IoT) software and data management infrastructure. Through these offerings, our Ride and Show engineering team will be able to collect, analyze, and manage data from multiple sources. This data is analyzed using advanced analytic approaches that give our team real-time insights to operations. Disney and Hitachi have deployed these solutions at several of Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions, including Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania! and Alien Swirling Saucers. The solutions are also slated to be used in Frozen Ever After at Epcot and the Kali River Rapids and Dinosaur attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We are also using Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada operations platform which makes it easy for us to use data and analytics to improve maintenance operations.

Brad: There is also a vital mobile element that we should touch on too. Can you talk about how that is working too?

Michael: Of course. Let’s use Toy Story Mania! as an example. That attraction generates huge amounts of data every day. That data is collected by the Disney ADAQ system which then translates it to digital format, and then streams it to Lumada Edge in a sub-second interval. Lumada Edge then ingests all sensor input/output (I/O) data and applies analytical algorithms to the I/O data to generate alerts. Maintenance personnel can view the data live in a web-based dashboard.

Now here is where the mobile element comes into place. When a need is identified, sustaining engineers in the field will immediately receive those notifications on their Apple iOS device where they will see detailed graphical data and can then take actions in accordance with the information available in the Lumada platform.

Brad: Perhaps the most exciting part of this alliance to me is that we are just at the beginning of this journey. I encourage everyone to stay tuned for more exciting updates on how we are working with the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort to help them with what we call the Double Bottom Line, achieving business success while upping the in-park experience for their guests.

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