Disney's "imagineers" are no strangers to using complex machinery to create spectacles.
And patent filings from last week show the company is interested in exploring drones to spice up events at its theme parks, including flying screens and "blimp-sized" puppets suspended and animated by drones.
Drones are aircraft that can fly autonomously.
The puppet patent, titled "Aerial display system with marionettes articulated and supported by airborne devices," describes huge, potentially modular, figures that could be manipulated by unmanned aerial systems. It includes an example of a giant Jack Skellington marionette that looks like it could have stepped straight out of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Two other patents deal with flying visual displays. One, titled "Aerial display system with floating projection screens," is pretty self-explanatory. Another is for an "aerial display system with floating pixels," of "flixels," which would turn the sky or some other airspace into a display "screen."
But just because Disney filed patents for these drone-driven devices doesn't mean they'll be used in parks or other venues any time soon.
Companies patent technologies that never come to fruition all the time because they want to lay claim to an idea or the technology turns out to be too complicated or costly.
The Federal Aviation Administration is working on rules for commercial drone use.