Have you ever dreamed of turning yourself into an inch-tall plastic figure who can’t bend their arms or legs, and must interact with the world using a pair of lobster-like claw hands? Lego’s new theme park, opening next year in New York, will make that dream a reality using sophisticated motion tracking and neural network facial recognition.
Opening on July 4 next year, the Legoland New York Resort will be located in Goshen, New York, which is about 60 miles northwest of New York City. When complete it will be one of the largest Legoland theme parks in the world, with a full hotel enroute, and various interactive attractions including the Lego Factory Adventure Ride.
Like most of the newer indoor attractions being installed at theme parks now, the Lego Factory Adventure Ride will be a trackless dark ride experience – which means that while visitors will still strap into moving vehicles that parade them through an interactive narrative, the vehicles themselves aren’t tethered to a track like a roller coaster, or more traditional attractions like Disneyland pioneered. (Sorry, your Pirates of the Caribbean boat isn’t free to drift off on its own.) This approach offers more freedom of motion and flexibility when it comes to actually designing the ride, and it can allow guests to have a slightly different experience every time they ride it.
Developed by Holovis and ETF Ride Systems, the Lego Factory Adventure Ride was revealed at the recent IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Expo last week in Orlando, Florida. The full details of the ride experience weren’t shared, aside from the fact that it promises make guests feel like they are part of the machinery found inside a factory churning out plastic bricks. What was revealed, however, is that the ride will take advantage of Holovis’ HoloTrac technology to turn guests into Lego’s iconic minifigure toys, similar to how Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride turns guests into ghouls.
But instead of relaying on mirrors and clever lighting, the HoloTrac technology takes advantage of all the cutting-edge technologies that have been providing a worrisome glimpse of our future where what our eyes see probably can’t be trusted. Lego will harness the same AI and deep learning approaches that make deepfake videos a reality, but to turn riders into minifigure versions of themselves that mirror not only their movements, but their appearance too. That includes copying the rider’s hair colour, glasses, jewelry, clothing, and even facial expressions, which are detected and Lego-ized in about half a second’s time.
There’s a bit of a missed opportunity here, however. While riders will be able to see their Lego minifigure doppelgängers on a big screen and control them, it will sadly be a fleeting experience as the ride will eventually move on. And there’s no indication that as guests exit through the gift shop, they’ll be able to purchase a minifigure version of themselves to take home as a souvenir. That opportunity alone would get me to New York in the sweltering heat of summer to try out the experience, so hopefully Lego does (further) capitalise on the Lego Factory Adventure Ride, and offer even the ability to custom order a real figure based on their digital double.