3 CLUES About Disney’s Mysterious NEW Virtual Reality Treadmill Floor Technology

Published: February 6, 2024

We know that Imagineers are usually working on dreaming up new experiences for us in the parks, and a lot of that work involves how things LOOK. Disney is known for its over-the-top theming, the “easter eggs” and Hidden Mickeys hidden throughout the parks, rides, cruise ships, resorts and just about everything Disney World does. But a lot of Imagineer time is also spent on how things WORK.

© @waltdisneyimagineering on Instagram at TRON Lightcycle/Run

Disney’s most accomplished inventor is Lanny Smoot, who holds 106 patents and counting! In a recent video, Disney shared more about Smoot’s amazing career with the company, and toward the end of the video, we got a sneak peek at his latest invention. And we can’t stop thinking about it!

Behold the Holo Tile floor…


It looks … weird, but you’ve gotta see what it can do!

Disney describes the Holo Tile floor technology as the “world’s first multi-person, omni-directional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor.” Basically, all those tiny tiles you see rotate and move to keep any object in the center of the floor. What’s more, MULTIPLE people can be on the floor moving in different directions simultaneously.

Smoot said when he started working on this project years ago, he was trying to figure out if a holodeck — like the ones on Star Trek ships that allow people to exist in any environment holographically — could really become reality. And, if anyone could do that, it would probably be Smoot (he invented that “real” light saber we saw in use in the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, after all!).

©Disney Lanny Smoot shows off the Holo Tile floor he invented.

“I knew about the thing called the ‘Holodeck,’ which is where people can walk around forever in a room that’s 24 feet by 24 feet,” Smoot told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re going off to distant mountains and streams. How can that possibly be, right?”

So now we’ve seen this myterious treadmill floor, and it’s COOL. But how might Disney use it? We know that Imagineering often works on new tech without a particular attraction or use in mind. But we have found some CLUES as to how the Holo Tiles could show up in Disney Parks! Let’s take a look!

Virtual Reality Attractions

We had the opportunity to test out some new tech at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions convention last fall in Orlando, and of course, there were lots of virtual reality attractions. Most of them involved wearing a headset as you might expect, and what we can definitely say about them is that you had to cover a lot of ground to play the games, physically walking around in the crowded convention center.


That can be annoying, worrisome, and perhaps even dangerous to be walking around in a crowd while wearing a VR headset. We could imagine the Holo Tile flooring being very useful in VR environments!

Live Performances

Smoot himself said he has imagined the floor being used by dancers, and it could be an interesting application to install holo tiles on stages!

Finding Nemo: The Great Big Blue and Beyond show

Complex choreography involves carefully planning out how much ground dancers can cover as they move, to keep them from getting too close to the edge of the stage (or accidentally spinning off stage and out of the view of the audience). A treadmill floor could allow for bigger moves, without the dancers needing as much room to do them. And remember, multiple people can be on the same Holo Tile floor and be moving independently!

Moving (and Controlling the Moves of) Objects

Ever wanted to truly “Use the Force” and move objects around with a gesture of your arm and sheer will. Guess what the Holo Tile floor can do?

Lightsaber training at the Galactic Starcruise

Yep, the floor will move objects when you make certain movements!

Now, we know, we know, it’s probably going to be a long time before we see this tech come to Disney Parks … but we can’t wait to see the attractions the Imagineers dream up to use it!

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How would YOU use this tech in Disney Parks? Tell us in the comments!

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