Walt Disney World brings Aruba Wi-Fi and IoT to its 29 resort properties

The resorts will use Aruba’s location-ready access points, ClearPass, AirWave, and Analytics and Location Engine to improve operations on site.

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The happiest place on Earth is becoming one of the most connected. Walt Disney World Resort has already deployed Aruba Wi-Fi infrastructure and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions at five of its resorts and has plans to add it to its remaining 24 hotels by 2021, Partha Narasimhan, CTO for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. 

The purpose of this partnership is “connectivity, security and bringing together the digital and the physical worlds,” to improve employee and guest experiences, Narasimhan said.

Aruba’s Wi-Fi infrastructure will make business operations more efficient and effective for the front-end and back-end employees at Disney resorts, including the thousands of characters working in the parks, overall improving the employee experience, Narasimhan said.

The services Disney is using includes Aruba’s location-ready access points, ClearPass for wireless authentication and secure access, Airwave for network management, and Aruba ALE (Analytics and Location Engine) to gain actionable insights into network, device, and application functions, the press release said.  

The resorts that already have the new features are Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort.

SEE: Wi-Fi 6: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Aruba has recently moved into what they call an intelligent edge division. “What we mean by intelligent edge is where people are and the places that we find ourselves in, and the expectations around the kinds of experiences we all want to have,” Narasimhan said. 

Disney’s use of these applications is a prime example of what Aruba means by intelligent edge. “Think about all of the association that we all have with the Disney brand and the expectations, whether it’s in the resort, in the theme park, or everything else” Narasimhan said. “It all starts with high-performance connectivity. Can I go walk into a resort and stream high quality 4K quality video, for example. That requires a network that is always available and can handle the kinds of densities that Disney expects to have in their resorts.”

Aruba’s applications 

All of the Aruba applications used by Disney—location-ready access points, ClearPass, Airwave, and ALE—work in tandem with one another, Narasimhan said. 

“The access points are what end user devices connect to,” Narasimhan said. “ClearPass primarily is an authentication service both for visitors and guests, as well as for the cast members and employees that Disney has. That’s how we figure out how to get users connected, who they are, and who a particular device belongs to. That is the element of content that is required to complete the whole experience issue.”

“Then, you bring in location-based services, where if you understand the location of devices, that allows us to combine the physical world and the digital world,” Narasimhan continued. “If I know where a particular user is, that gives me enough context to go in and figure out what specific expectations they might have in the current location that they find themselves in.”

“All of these are integrated and share contextual information and content that together are necessary to deliver on the customer expectations,” Narasimhan said. 

This level of connectivity is used to make check-in easier with mobile check-in at resort lobbies, improve the experience being table-side at a restaurant, enhance the experience of the nearly 70,000 Disney cast members, and optimize operations and both the front-end and back-end of resorts, Narasimhan said. 

“Everything starts with first the connectivity layer and then you can layer in security on top of it.” Aruba not only ensures that connectivity is reliable at the resorts, but that it is also secure, Narasimhan said.

“Disney had expectations around a high performance connectivity layer, but they also needed security overlaid on it. [They] need the ability to identify users, their devices and their locations, in order to translate that into the delivery of experiences that we have come to expect from Disney,” Narasimhan said. 

Some of the biggest challenges Aruba faced in integrating these solutions were density and appearance, according to Narasimhan.

With tens of thousands of people staying at Disney resorts and visiting Disney parks every day, Aruba knew that density was going to be a challenge, to make sure access points were deliverable across venues, Narasimhan said. 

Additionally, some constraints surfaced around appearance. Aruba needed to integrate access points without affecting the Disney aesthetic or experience, which will be taken into consideration during installment, he added. 

In the past, Aruba has blended systems into scenery using matching paint colors or hiding mechanisms in discrete locations.

For more, check out DreamWorks Animation gets a Hollywood-style digital transformation on TechRepublic. 

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Image: iStock/EnchantedFairy

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