Pop Culture Patents: Disney's Newest Theme Park Ride

October 16, 2017 David Bennett

Who knows what Disney is up to? A recent patent publication has piqued the interest of theme park and patent enthusiasts alike. Disney’s patent application titled “Track-based Swing Ride with Long Arm Pendulum” is the latest lens for speculation about Disney’s soon-to-come amusement park rides.

Disney’s patent application was first filed on April 1, 2016 and became a popular discussion point when it was published on October 5, 2017. The patent application describes a combination between an inverted roller coaster and swinging pendulum that will carry riders through whatever imaginative environment Disney creates. The ability to freely swing riders like a pendulum attached to a ceiling was apparently designed “to deliver an experience similar to what it would feel like to be with Tarzan or . . . with Spider-Man,” according to the patent application’s abstract. 

Many anticipate that this mechanism will be the basis for the upcoming Disney California Adventure Spider-Man ride that was confirmed at the D23 Expo earlier this year. However, it is out-of-character for Disney to make such a clear reference to the actual theme of a ride in their patent applications, and those skeptical of a Spider-Man theme anticipate that the invention will create the motion of the upcoming Epcot Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster or possibly simulate the flight of the Millennium Falcon in a new Star Wars attraction.

With LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent analysis software, we can take a closer look into Disney's impressive portfolio of over 1700 patents that cover a wide variety of inventions. PatentAdvisor™ reveals that Disney’s past patent prosecution has not been the most efficient - they face an average of 2.3 office actions, file for an RCE 40.1 percent of the time, and their patent applications spend an average of three years and seven months in prosecution - however, while there is some room for improvement with these patent statistics, Disney does maintain an impressive 89.3 percent patent allowance rate overall.

Even more impressive than Disney’s allowance rates is the data pooled about this invention’s inventor. The individual behind this patent application has been named as an inventor on over 75 total USPTO patent applications and has assigned many of his inventions to Disney, including inventions with titles like “Magnetic Pacer for Controlling Speeds in Amusement Park Rides” and “Interactive Theatre with Audience Participation.” Over 97 percent of his patent applications have been allowed with an average of only 1.3 office actions, filing for an RCE only 11.3 percent of the tie, and after spending an average of two years and five months in prosecution. With this kind of USPTO track record, Disney can certainly be confident that even the toughest of patent examiners will grant them exclusive rights to their newest ride mechanics in the upcoming months. The rest of us will have wait patiently for Disney to unveil which theme and which park will make use of this technology.

To follow Disney’s patent application or any USPTO patent application throughout the patent prosecution process, ask about LexisNexis PatentAdvisor patent analysis software. PatentAdvisor enables users to assess actionable USPTO patent data to stay informed and to plan smarter patent prosecution strategies. 

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