The Disney Diaries #4

Videogaming is in a sad state at Walt Disney World. When we came on our honeymoon, we started every day with Mickey waffles and a round of Virtua Cop at our resort. We stayed at the same place this time and the arcade was still there, with a wide selection, but through the magic of debit cards, most games cost about $1 to play (even coin-op classics like Class of 81 Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga were 50 cents). Still, at least the games were maintained.

A few years ago Disney launched DisneyQuest and made a big deal about its custom games and interactive rides (Virtual Jungle Cruise! Aladdin’s Flying Carpet Thingie!), but I’m not sure if the place has been upgraded since launch. I had been looking forward to the true VR game based on Aladdin – complete with head-tracking visor and a controllable flying carpet – and it must have been mighty impressive when it was new. It’s not bad now, and good luck finding other VR experiences anywhere else for a reasonable price, but the visuals aren’t on par with what the kids at home are playing with 360 and PS3, and the novel controls are trumped by Wii. Kat tried it and found her controller was broken, so she pulled out and just sat on a nearby bench while I finished up. In fact, a lot of its games were a) not fun, b) broken, or c) outdated, if not all three (The Toy Story-inspired Sid’s Create-a-Toy wins that award). The Retro Zone was a mess: Robotron‘s second joystick didn’t work, Lunar Lander had monitor issues, Donkey Kong‘s screen was fuzzy as hell, and oh yeah, there were no Pac games. WTF?

The whole place struck me as a ghetto arcade, which is ironic, since DQ is one of those “let’s not call it an arcade, let’s call it ‘location-based entertainment'” places built to avoid the negative things associated with the worst elements of arcades: broken equipment, bored staff, sketchy lighting, yelling kids. But if you leave a room full of games to die, you naturally inherit all the worst elements of arcades anyway. Disney doesn’t seem to understand that gaming technology moves much faster than even Space Mountain (which coincidentally had its Tomorrowland arcade cut in size by 2/3rds to make room for another gift shop).

I’m glad I went to DisneyQuest, but even as a big Disney fan and a bigger gamer, I don’t feel the need to return.

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