In the not-too-distant future, when Cinderella looks out her castle window she may spot a drone flying by.
The Walt Disney Co. has taken the next step in integrating drones into its fireworks shows at Disneyland and Walt Disney World: it has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for what’s called a Section 333 exemption, which allows a company to legally operate drones commercially. Currently, it is illegal to operate a drone for commercial purposes, though that’s expected to change in 2016.
The drones would fly preprogrammed flight paths and emit LED lights at various intervals, lighting up the sky. Up to 50 drones at one time might be used for nightly firework shows, according to details included in the Section 333 exemption request.
But no need to worry about a drone crashing down and ruining your vacation — Disney also said in the paperwork filed with the FAA that these drones will only fly in the theme park’s “pyrotechnic clear zone,” meaning areas that are inaccessible to visitors.
MarketWatch first broke news that Disney was considering using drones in its theme park entertainment back in August of 2014, after the company filed three patents for drone and UAV-related designs. Disney intends to call its drones “Flixels.”
The company currently is using drones manufactured through 3D Robotics, a Berkeley, Calif.-based drone startup that has raised $99 million over four funding rounds from investors including Qualcomm Inc. and Richard Branson.