My kids can't get enough of voice assistants for the home. My three-year-old and seven-year-old ask Alexa or Google about the weather, to play their favorite songs, or to answer random questions about animals every day. I'm sure many parents can relate.
Now, think about what would happen if Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and almost two dozen other Disney characters answered your kids' questions instead of Alexa. Depending on how much you like Disney, this will either make you feel like you're at Walt Disney World or drive you crazy.
Amazon announced at CES 2023 that Hey Disney, Disney's first home voice assistant, will soon be available on Echo devices through the Alexa Skills Store or as part of an Amazon Kids+ subscription. With a simple "Hey Disney!" the voice assistant can talk to kids, parents, and Disney adults in many of the same ways you can talk to Alexa. It also has some unique features, such as Disney trivia and Star Wars soundscapes, that Alexa doesn't have.
Mashable got a hands-on demo of the home voice assistant from Amazon and Disney at CES, which you can watch in the video below.
We could ask Disney simple questions like "What's the weather like today?" and get answers from more than 20 Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars characters like Olaf from Frozen. During the demo, Cars' Mater told us an interactive story, and Donald Duck helped us set a 30-second timer. The main voice assistant is called Disney Magical Companion, and it leads the question before giving it to a random Disney character.
I thought the most interesting thing about the demo wasn't the voice assistant itself, but how it would work with Disney's MagicBand+.
If you haven't been to a Disney theme park in the last 10 years, the MagicBand is basically a watch-sized device that lets you quickly enter the parks, skip the lines with Disney's new FastPass system called Genie+, and more. It's kind of like your all-access pass to Disneyland and Disney World. The MagicBand+ is a more expensive version of the wearable that does all of the same things but also lets you interact with it. For example, when you walk by certain statues at Magic Kingdom, the MagicBand+ will light up, and when you tap the device, a voice from the statue will talk to you.
One big problem with the MagicBands, though, is that they don't work outside of the parks. That won't be true for long. When Donald Duck's timer went off in our demo, all of the connected MagicBand+ devices lit up. According to Disney, the company is planning to add more integrations in the future, such as letting people play Disney Trivia with Hey Disney and tap their MagicBand+ to be the first to answer and buzz in.