How is Jack Skellington on Stage? A New Era of Story Telling
How is Jack Skellington on Stage? A New Era of Story Telling
Kate K.

A few years ago the Walt Disney Company put in a patent for a new kind of entertainment option. It was a drone-powered marionette and in the original documentation, the puppet example was for Jack Skellington. Now when the patent was announced, the speculation by many (myself included) was that this was going to be incorporated into the parades as a new way to bring flying and walking characters to life. But Disney did us one better.

This fall they’ve replaced the old version of Hallo Wishes at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. And who’s hosting the show you ask? Why a larger than life, fully articulated, walking, talking Jack Skellington Puppet. But how is Jack Skellington on Stage?

How does it work?

Any traditional marionette works by attaching strings to different articulated joints. Traditional Marionettes are then manipulated via one or two controllers attached to the strings. The level of control is typically a bit jerky since the strings don’t operate independently. However, with Disney’s new idea, each joint and limb can have its very own drone, allowing Imagineers to preprogram each action beforehand for a perfect show and a character brought to life in amazing ways. This is the original design that was presented to the patent office a few years ago.

Jack Skellington on Stage

It seems that they have updated the model a bit though since some of the footage shows sticks attached to Jacks’s hands, while other footage does not. So it could be possible that he’s held up by strings but the super-refined hand motions needed to make him feel really required a bit more ground control. But I wouldn’t put it past Disney to keep refining this technology now that it’s debuted.

A Whole New Show

While I was a fan of all of the versions of Wishes, I can’t deny that the new nighttime spectaculars at the Magic Kingdom are far more immersive with the new projection mapping elements tied into the traditional fireworks shows. And the new show that goes along with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is impressive.

Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular Fireworks is a stunning mix of technology, pyrotechnics, and music that is sure to wow the whole family. The music is a compellation of songs from the Nightmare Before Christmas, with ‘This is Halloween” being conducted by the pumpkin king himself. A little bit of classic Disney is then tied in with ‘Trick or Treat’ from the old Disney shorts. Then as the story progresses you’ll also hear classic tunes from Disney Masterpieces like Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins and more!

A New Story

The new show itself is fitting with Disney’s new direction for their nighttime spectaculars. Rather than a series of musical segments, the whole show tells a cohesive story. This time Jack introduces the guests to a story about Halloween as Zero leads Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy into a haunted house filled with dancing skeletons, waltzing ghosts and, unbeknownst to them, a whole slew of villains!

The skeletons dance to a series of Disney tunes including Step in Time and are done with a visual style akin to Walt’s old dancing skeleton silly symphony. While the Ghost Masquerade includes some of Disney’s most traditional love songs as ghosts waltz around and through the castle. Of course, Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a villain or two showing up to try to take over the show. This time you’ll see Oogie Boogie, Hades, Ursula and even the Queen of Hearts. What will happen to Mickey and the Gang? You can watch the video below to find out!

What does this mean for future shows?

Well, Disney is always working on new ways to tell stories. And as the Jack Skellington Host successfully shows, there is always magic in the making. Who knows who they could have hosting future shows? They’ve already proven that they can make a dragon fly (at the grand opening of Disney’s Fantasy Land) and they already made an Elephant fly in California. So who knows what they’ll do with this technology next?

Other options included in the patent packet were drone operated lanterns a la Tangled and ‘flixels’, flying pixels, which we’ve already seen flying over Disney Springs. It will be interesting to see how Disney plans to integrate this new storytelling element in future months. We may even see drone-powered characters popping up in rides and walking around the parks?

What do you think about Disney’s newest innovation? Is having Jack Skellington on Stage the best thing to happen to the parks since projection mapping? Or is it unnerving? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Kate K.

Kate K. is a freelance writer, artist, designer, and programmer. She has been working with Homes4uu as our primary blogger, graphic designer, webmaster, and social media manager since 2014. You can also find Kate on her homesite and her blog

Read More About Kate K. here

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