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Disney Gets Permission From FAA To Fly Drones Over Their Theme Parks

You may soon be seeing some drones in this photo too. (Photo by Lori Bucci via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The Disney theme parks were placed under a no-fly zone as part of a 2003 law that was written in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to the OC Register. The same restrictions were placed on sporting events, the White House, and other high-profile sites.

You may be seeing some drones over Disneyland now, however, as the FAA issued a waiver this week that allows the parks to fly drones over their grounds, according to the L.A. Times.

The request was filed by Disney last year. In their application, Disney said that it wanted to implement "Flixels," a type of drone designed by a Berkeley-based robotics company. Disney said that it wanted to incorporate the drones into their nighttime fireworks show, and that the drones may light up and carry objects through the sky. To quell the FAA's concerns, Disney has promised that the drones will stay 100 feet away from guest areas at all times, and that the "flight paths will largely take place over water elements and restricted areas," per their application.

Disney's waiver will be applicable through November of 2020, at which point they'll have to reapply. Of course, the FAA's waiver was granted specially to Disney, so no, you can't whip out your own machine and zip it over the site of the upcoming Star Wars land.

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Drones over Disneyland (or, more specifically, California Adventure) weren't unheard of in the past. Back in 2013, when drones were still a fairly new thing, one was rumored to be flying above the park, and it sent a bunch of people into a tizzy.

As drones become more advanced and accessible, the government has been scrambling to define the areas where you can and can't fly them. Obviously, they're a big no-no around airplanes; drones are not allowed within 5 miles of an airport or a heliport. The National Parks Service has also banned drones across their 59 national parks, 350 national monuments, and the service's seashores, which in total accounts for about 84 million acres, reports the Times. It should also be noted that, if you own a drone weighing more than .55 pounds, you'll have to register it with the FAA.

LAist reached out to Disney for more information about their plans for the Flixels, but no one was immediately available for comment.

Note: weirdly, as mentioned by the OC Register, the Disney parks are the only theme parks to be protected by no-fly zones. Is this a diss at, say, Legoland?