Disney Applies For Patent on a “Portable Pepper’s Ghost Effect” For Potential Use in Ride Vehicles

It’s always fun to see what Disney’s most recent patent applications are, and this week brought us a good one. Fans of Disney are probably familiar with the Pepper’s ghost effect, made famous by the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, and this patent deals with advancing this classic effect.

Here’s how the patent application describes Pepper’s ghost:

Pepper’s Ghost is a practical visual effect that overlays an image onto a viewing surface through which another scene is visible. The image may be outputted from a projector or from an illuminated chamber onto a reflector. The reflector, in turn, projects the reflection onto a viewing surface in front of the scene as a ghosted image visible as part of the scene. By using a transparent viewing surface, a viewer may simultaneously see both the ghosted image and the objects in the scene behind the viewing surface.

This patent essentially takes this effect and attaches it onto a moving vehicle, thus making the illusion portable. Doing so would allow for the effect to be used in a ride vehicle to overlay the image outside or to create a totally new image for the guest to see.

From the patent:

In another embodiment, the present disclosure provides auto-stereo imaging for viewing in a vehicle via a method, comprising: affixing a projector in a cabin of a vehicle, aligned to project an image inward to the cabin of the vehicle; affixing a reflector in the cabin of the vehicle relative to the projector to reflect the image outward from the cabin of the vehicle onto a window of the vehicle; determining distances and angles from the window of the vehicle to eyes of a viewer in the cabin of the vehicle; and projecting the image from the projector to the reflector to the window to the viewer based on the distances and the angles.

While there is no specific description of what this portable Pepper’s ghost effect could be used for, images in the patent show it could be used to overlay images outside of the vehicle to provide additional information. Take for example Kilimanjaro Safaris, this Pepper’s ghost effect could be attached to the side of the vehicle and project information about the animals being seen to help educate guests.

In this sense, the effect would be used almost like augmented reality technology without the user needing to use a wearable device to see such image overlays.

As always, patents applied for by Disney are not guaranteed to be granted nor be used in a theme park setting, but it is always cool to look at the technology that might make its way into parks.