Disney's "Ultimate Home Theater" experience

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Schnacke, May 28, 2002.

  1. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Seems like this story has been told before some months back. But actually experiencing it was enough to make me want to post my impressions.
    During my trip to Disney World 2 weeks ago my wife and I happened upon an "Ultimate Home Theater" show in one of the Innoventions buildings at Epcot. How could I resist?
    The show starts in a corner of the big room where everything is going on - enough noise from other exhibits to preclude any real listening tests. But Disney solved that one - they just rigged a comparison that was so obviously and completely unfair that the verdict was unquestionable. First they showed us a big, single (mono) speaker that was comprised of a single 15 inch or so driver. No midrange. No tweeter. And it looked like they'd pulled it from underneath a pile of junk in Al Bundy's garage. "This is the sound quality we were accustomed to 40 years ago." Um, if you say so.
    The competition? You guessed it - the amazing Bose acoustimass "noise" system. Of course it was smaller, better sounding and better looking than that other hunk of junk. Way to go, Bose! Here's a new slogan for you - "Bose ... better than crap ... sort of". Needless to say I wasn't fooled. Neither was my wife.
    Next we move into a soundproofed room. This room was designed to look like a living room but had wood bench seats with no backs. There's a high-def rear projection TV flush mounted in one wall. A flat screen on another wall. Remote control lighting and doors to conceal the RPTV. Pretty neat. But how does it sound?
    Once again the almighty Bose AM speakers were called to the task and once again they failed. The demo was intended to show the difference between stereo and full blown surround sound. A clip from Armageddon was played in stereo. Kinda loud but otherwise quite unimpressive.
    "Now we're going to play that again and this time you'll hear and FEEL surround sound". This was too funny. They played the same clip but in some surround mode (I can only assume it was Dolby Digital). Slightly louder but same poor quality with zero imaging. And this time they kicked in the bass shakers they had hidden under the wooden benches. I couldn't help but laugh. There's pleny of action and sound but virtually no bass. And yet my butt was vibrating. Not my whole body - the backless benches prevented that - just my butt. It was so ... wrong. The best comparison I can make is putting one of those jumbo-coffee-can-sized mufflers on a Honda Civic. Sure its loud, but that silly buzz doesn't actually make it powerful. Just annoying. I was just waiting for them to ask "Now wouldn't you love to have this in your home?" but I'm guessing they've already gotten a few NO's to that question since they didn't bother asking.
    Thankfully we moved on to the last demo which consisted of a large dedicated home theater room with some impressive equipment (no Bose whatsoever). Very nice and high quality. Still didn't WOW me other than the amount of money they must've put into it. Maybe if I had the benefit of calibrating it to MY preferences I'd be more impressed but that's another matter.
    In the end I'm rather embarrassed that Disney fell so deeply into the Bose hype. My wife and I are big Disney (expecially Disney World and Disney Cruise Line) fans and its unusual to see them utterly fail. In some ways I'd like to think that they were just catering to the publics perceptions of quality and that they really know better. But Disney has done so many things so well, going beyond the status quo and innovating new solutions, that I expect more of them. This was a great opportunity to demonstrate what quality sound is REALLY about - accuracy, clarity, imaging, ... but in an unusual display of unDisney-like character they took the cheap way out.[​IMG]
     
  2. Darren Davis

    Darren Davis Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw this back in April. Well, passed by really. I took a look at the stuff and then started asking the guy there some questions and within about 30 seconds I realized I knew more than him and so I just walked away.


    P.S. - don't trust Epcot about the future. Everything there reminds me of those old "House of the future"-type cartoons where mechanical arms in the house come out and shave the owner, wash dishes, sweep the floors, etc. in a completely unrealistic fashion. The scenery of the park wasn't too bad, though.
     
  3. KyleRoussel

    KyleRoussel Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe Disney signed some sort of deal with Bose, and that's why all that junk was there?
     
  4. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for posting your impressions. I had no idea they stocked those rooms with Bose and actually had that exhibit on my list of things not to miss next time I hit Disney (I'm a huge Disney fan too). Knowing what's in there, I probably will not even waste my time.

    Shame they didn't do a better job with this, and I happen to agree with you that they tend to do so much right. Surprising this was overlooked. Maybe Disney needs a Home Theater Consultant...I'll do it!
     
  5. Jason Caudill

    Jason Caudill Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess they use Bose because they subscribe to Ridley Scott's (and countless others) bleak view of the future.

    I did ask if Bose were so good, why were they not used in the last home theater. I got some kind of grumbling and then decided not to bug the worker anymore. I try to save those kind of smart alec comments for when I am not paying an arm and a leg.
     
  6. Doug BW

    Doug BW Stunt Coordinator

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    The 1999 press release by Lutron describing the HT exhibit at Disney may be found here.
    In it, they list the manufacturers of all the equipment used:
    "Home theater products showcased in the exhibit include: acoustical diffusors (RPG Diffusor Systems, Inc.), acoustical insulation/room treatment (Owens Corning), amplifier/pre-amplifier (Audio Design Associates), audio video distribution (Channel Plus), audio video receivers (Kenwood USA), bass shakers (Aura Systems), cable and power conditioners (Monster Cable and Monster Power), consumer television, HDTV, DVD, Web TV, DSS service and receiver (Sony), digital player piano (Yamaha), flatpanel television (Philips), high-end loudspeakers (M & K Sound), home theater seating (Irwin Seating), lighting controls and control systems (Lutron), lighting fixtures and fiber optic lighting (Cooper Lighting), mainstream speaker system (Bose Corporation), motorized cabinet door mechanisms (Eubank), projection screen (Da-Lite), projectors (Runco International), speaker and equipment stands (Lovan Audio), touchscreen controls (PHAST by AMX), and Ultimate Home Theater room certification (THX)."
     
  7. Jason Spencer

    Jason Spencer Stunt Coordinator

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    I can second Ryan's impression of this display. What a joke. I was just passing by looking for the Segway exhibit (which was in the other building) and cought the last show of the day. Should have skipped it. Ryan was dead on with his assessment. Oh well, at least they have an exhibit of how not to set up your room...
     
  8. Carlos AF

    Carlos AF Auditioning

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    This may not be clear to all visitors, but many of the exhibits at Innoventions are 'sponsored' by various companies, and thus not necesarily Disney's own recomendations.

    If I'm not mistaken, the HT exhibit was 'owned' by Lutron.

    Disney also sells 'technology' rights, for example Kodak is the official 'imaging' sponsor, so somebody else couldn't feature Fuji within their exhibit, etc. It may be that Bose has some sort of 'speaker/audio' sponsorship, or maybe they struck a deal with Lutron directly for the exposure.

    I worked on the IBM exhibit a while back. Best job I've had so far...

    Carlos
     
  9. Mike Burke

    Mike Burke Stunt Coordinator

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    Some clarification,

    I was there 2 years ago Memorial Day weekend and I remember the Bose speakers are only in the 1st room they show on the exhibit then they move you into the 2 dedicated theaters designed by Theo K??? (the expensive Greek guy), Russ Herschelmann from SGHT and 1 other fellow.

    They use ADA electronics, M&K S-250 mains, SS150 rears, and MX350 subs (maybe the MX500's) and use a Runco DLP firing onto a 110in 16x9 screen. I found the design of the room cool, had fantastic audio, but that 1st Gen. DLP was bad! I hope they replaced it with the new VX-1000c which is awesome! I have the flyer at home with all the stuff listed.

    Mike
     
  10. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Mike,
    I guess they must've removed one of the dedicated theater rooms or maybe they were just lazy the day I went. I wish they were still giving out printed equipment lists. I saw the full list as we were being ushered into the demo rooms, but there wasn't enough time to do more than skim through it. I do recall the M&K speakers but that's about it. And I'm not familiar enough with DLP projectors to tell you if its still a 1st gen or a newer model.

    I was expecting the audio in the dedicated theater room to be a bit better than it was. Your story makes me wonder if they just calibrated when they set it up (apparently a few years ago) and never again. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. It just didn't have that real WOW factor.
     
  11. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    I have a question:
    Were they showing Pan&Scan versions of Disney movies to display the state-of-the-art home theater? Now that would be funny!
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Joseph_W

    Joseph_W Stunt Coordinator

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    Now I think this is a silly thread. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoy bashing Bose as much as the next guy. But bashing Disney because they allow Bose on the property? That's a little much. Do you think the beer drinker forums bitch about Disney serving Bud? Does the Peanut forum bitch because Disney buys their peanuts from Brazil instead of Georgia? (Well, probably yes in both cases.)

    Anyway, I enjoyed going through the HT exhibit. I went through it twice!! (Ok, the second time was a little much.) But it was cool (in temperature) and no line.

    There was a huge negative for me, though. I was in the market for a sub, and, as a result of the Bose demo, my wife informed me that I must be able to hide it in a basket. She is still looking for a basket to hide my newly acquired SVS!!

    Joe
     
  13. If Disney wanted to impress the unknowing with some "speakers of tomorrow", they should have just used electrostatics from Magnepan or Martin Logan (magneplanar)....I know that they are old technology, but to most people it is the spaceship of speakers. ..anyways..would be better than bose.
     
  14. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Joe,
    Maybe I didn't express myself very clearly. Disney has impressed me and continues to do so. Take one cruise with DCL and you'll be hooked, too. This is a company that has proven to me that it can do things right. Accordingly, I have come to expect above average presontations, demonstrations and performances from them.
    Any presenter exhibiting an "Ultimate Home Theater" experience with Bose AM speakers (and no real subwoofer) loses some respect in my eyes. But with Disney its downright disappointing. Regardless of whether this exhibit is sponsored or "owned" by Lutron or any other company Disney is responsible for setting the quality standards. I bought a ticket to Disney's Epcot Theme Park, not Lutron's Ultimate Home Theater Show.
    Anthony,
    That would've been cool. Show the public something they haven't seen before - planars, infinite baffle subwoofers, etc. Not run-of-the-mill products that you find at any local Best Buy.
     
  15. Joseph_W

    Joseph_W Stunt Coordinator

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    "I bought a ticket to Disney's Epcot Theme Park, not Lutron's Ultimate Home Theater Show."

    Ryan,
    You are exactly right. I didn't even consider the fact that you (and I) had to pay to enter Epcot. Thank you for setting me straight.

    I reread my post and it could have easily come across differently than I meant. You could have assumed I meant your post was silly, which I definitely did not. I enjoyed it and was making fun of how we all can be.

    Joe
     

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