WALT DISNEY Co previously sketched out plans for how entertainment conglomerates, theme parks and consumer products will use technology to enhance storytelling over the next 100 years.

Speaking backstage at the company’s biennial D23 Expo fan convention with Reuters, Chief Executive Bob Chapek went to great lengths to avoid what he called “M-word,” or metaverse, despite pushing the company in that direction last year.

Chapek described Disney’s vision for the metaverse as “the storytelling of the next generation.” He wants to use data obtained from theme park visits and consumer streaming habits to provide a personalized entertainment experience, including from the company’s studios Marvel and Lucasfilm.

“Disney is really a lifestyle. The question is, how does next-generation storytelling make the most of what we know about a guest uniquely in this Disney lifestyle, then? presents a unique experience.”

Entertainment and technology companies are rushing to secure a position in the metaverse after Meta Platforms Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s future would be devoted to creating a powerful, three-dimensional, and persistent environment where users’ digital avatars would work, hang out and pursue their hobbies.

Long before Meta’s announcement, Chapek, who oversaw the parks division before taking over the top post in 2020, had spent years preparing a broad way of experienced theme parks to people who would never visit any of the company’s six theme parks globally.

Disney began to lay the groundwork earnestly to explore new forms of storytelling over the past year, when it appointed veteran media and technology executive, Mike White, to oversee the newly created Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences unit.

White is alleged to have assembled a technological device for use by Disney creative executives. He has also been brainstorming ideas to use augmented reality and other technologies to bring a new dimension to storytelling. Chapek cited one early example of an eight-minute augmented reality movie that premiered this week on Disney+.

“It can be a huge catalyst for what’s going to show up there and, you know, five to 10 years,” Chapek concluded. [sources/photo special]