ATTRACTION REVIEW - DisneyQuest @ Walt Disney World

Kevin reviews the VR "theme park" at WDW. Is it a family destination, or are these tricks for kids?

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: September 25, 2004 at 6:56 PM

From the official WDW website: Create your own adventures in this one-of-a-kind indoor interactive Theme Park bursting with games that give "state-of-the-art" new meaning. Discover five floors exploding with cutting-edge technology, virtual reality and 3-D experiences — all fueled by Disney innovation and imagination.

There's more there, about the different "Zones" at DQ, but those are basically unimportant. What is important are the actual attractions.

Like the Animation Academy. This is a great idea... if you haven't hit puberty yet. After that, your interest in drawing a Disney character will probably be similar to mine: none whatsoever. And that's one entire floor!

Another big section of the building is devoted to an arcade. I didn't bother with this, since I don't need to go cross-country to find a frigging arcade, so I'm not sure if they make you pay for them. I would assume for the price - $26 to $32 - they wouldn't, but this is Disney after all.

The rest of the building IS about those virtual reality games, but those are a mixed bunch.

This is the class act of the place. You and three other people climb aboard the bow of a ship, which features a wheel and several cannons. One person will steer the ship while the other three operate the cannons. Surrounding the box on three sides are screens, which will turn into a pirate-attacked Caribbean when the game starts. The object is to fire the cannons at those ships until they sink, thereby saving the islands from the pirate scourge. If you do well enough, you will meet a pirate boss - I can't remember but I think he was a ghost... maybe we killed him? - who requires much better cannon work to defeat.

This is a great attraction, but we defeated the pirate boss on our first try. I don't think it is as easy as we made it seem, as the attendant refused to believe this was our first attempt. A lot of credit goes to our captain, a woman who was a complete stranger to us before our game, who always kept the marauders within our cannon's reaches. This is something I definitely would have done again, even after winning, but lines here are usually long.

Another long line is usually for this attraction, where you design your own roller coaster on a computer screen, then step into a capsule to ride it. Sounds fun, but it is merely an okay diversion. You just never feel like you are really on a coaster, since the screen doesn't surround you. Instead, it feels like you are in a capsule that spins (even upside-down) while watching a computer simulation of a roller coaster. Okay, but only if you don't have to wait.

A more successful virtual attraction is this, where you don a VR helmet and a sword and demolish bad guys. This attraction is almost as fun to watch as it is to play, as it is quite funny watching people with their heads covered swinging wildly at nothing. Playing it, you forget how stupid you might look and really try to go after the baddies. I was kicking butt the one time I played, but we didn't get to the boss because you play with about a dozen people at once, so if some of them are seriously sorry, then you won't make it to the end. That little fact, plus villains that all look the same, add up to an attraction that is almost there but not quite.

Here's another attraction that tries to be a live videogame, but this one fails miserably. You stand on a podium of sorts and bump and shake your podium to get the highest score on a huge-screened pinball game. Apparently this is a game you would have to play a lot to get any good at, and to understand what exactly you need to do to rack up points, but it isn't fun enough to want to play several times. I stood there for a while trying to learn what to do, but I only ever saw one person playing the thing. I'm apparently not alone in not liking this game.

This game probably comes closest to being an actual videogame, as all you basically do is shoot aliens. Two pairs sit back-to-back with one driving, like the PotC game, but here the driver will help shoot too. Like Ride the Comix, this one gets a bit redundant and no one was interested in a second go.

Now here we get a little bit away from the videogame aspects of the VR world. Here you basically climb aboard a magic carpet and steer your way through a virtual maze in search of some supposedly important jewel. There aren't a lot of paths to take, so the important thing is to just go faster than everyone else, since this is a race. Using this strategy, I absolutely slaughtered everyone I was playing against! Although bragging rights are fun, this is really only fun for a one-time ride.

Now we even get away from the VR aspects almost totally. Basically, you sit on a raft facing a videoscreen. You steer your raft with oars that have wheels on the end. Or I should say, you ATTEMPT to steer, as everyone seems to have major difficulty with this one. I knew which direction we needed row in to win - if that is actually an object here since I never saw anyone do well - but we simply couldn't do it. This would probably be fun if it wasn't such a pain, but it is still probably a one-time activity.

And now we get away from any type of virtual reality, as well as any obvious link between the attraction and its name. Here you climb into little cars built for two and then you race around sucking up balls in the ring and shooting them at the other players. This is actually a great idea, but it doesn't work out so well. This isn't a $100 million attraction so aiming the balls is often just guesswork. Sucking up the balls is also difficult, as many roll to the sides of the play area and are basically unsuckupable. Still, it wasn't so annoying that we wouldn't want to try again. Unfortunately, this is one of the three most visited attractions in the building (along with PotC and CyberSpace Mountain) and times between games can seriously drag on. So we didn't try it again.

And that's about it. Disney originally wanted DisneyQuests all over the country, but a non-Orlando attempt in Chicago failed. I'm not surprised. There just really isn't much entertainment value here for anyone that has hit puberty. Little kids won't be entertained either. We're talking grade schoolers and more likely the upper grades at that. Something with such a small target audience would need spectacular attractions and all DisneyQuest offers is a bunch of diversions, mostly. On the TPI Scale, I give it a 4 - Mediocre, which would be the score for adults. Add a couple for teens and another point for preteens. Your mileage may vary.

Readers' Opinions

From Chuck Campbell on September 25, 2004 at 7:47 PM
"Unsuckupable"? Hmm--have to consult the OED about that one.

Pirates is the best thing there (lots of fun), but anything that requires a VR helmet makes me sicker than a dog--worse than the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

From J. Dana on September 25, 2004 at 9:24 PM
Chuck, I'm with time when I went, the Aladin's Magic Carpet ride made me sick and I couldn't shake it the entire time i was there; so that was a miserable experience. then my Space Mountain experience had me hanging upside down for FAR too long.

I do like DisneyQuest, but only if I don't have to pay for it. When it's included in your park hopper, make sure to go. You don't have to pay for the video games. If you have a group with you, the Buzz Lightyear thing is fun. The giant pinball machine is confusing and odd. Pirates is great! The raft ride can be fun, but you don't really do anything but ride. For us adults, there's the desserts from Cheesecake factory.

Over on I-drive in the Pointe Orlando complex (, there's Club XS, which is a DisneyQuest for adults. It can be pretty expensive. When I asked the attendent why he thought Club XS was better than DisneyQuest, he answered: "We've got blood." And that they do--lots of ultra violent games. Club XS has a bar, a dance club, pool tables, and lots and lots of video games, but very little Virtual Reality.

DisneyQuest is good for kids and fun for adults, but not all day. I'd rate it higher than Kevin, but I do have to admit: when I had my all-inclusive annual pass, I never really made it a point to go to DisneyQuest much. It's not that I didn't like it, it's just that it wasn't a destination.

From Adrian Walker on September 25, 2004 at 11:12 PM
From a teenagers perspective, I'd say this place was alright. Seeing as we spend so much of our sorry lives on PS2,X-box and Gamecube etc.
From Kevin Baxter on September 26, 2004 at 12:49 AM
I spend half my life on PS2 and GameCube and I think that's a lot of the reason I DIDN'T much care for it. Very little of this crap can compare to sitting down with Zelda or Metroid or even Spyro.
From Chuck Campbell on September 26, 2004 at 7:17 AM
I suppose it would depend on how many video games you play at home. I agree that if it's part of your park hopper, then you might as well check DisneyQuest out one evening--but I wouldn't pay extra for it.

My wretched experience with the "comix" attractions left me headachey and nauseated, but, believe it or not, I felt better after dinner at the House of Blues.

From Jason Lester on September 26, 2004 at 9:06 AM
$26-$32, man! I think I'll just go to an arcade by my house. I mean VR is cool, but at a resonable price.
From Ben Mills on September 26, 2004 at 3:14 PM
Disney should go get the license to Viewtiful Joe and do something with that, even if its just a re-do of Ride the Comix. That would so rock.
From Anthony Murphy on September 27, 2004 at 10:12 PM
This place is primarily made for teens that can't get into PI. (Wait, thats like all teens). But I would give it a 7, not a 4. It is a good idea and is a good place to go on a non-park day, but they need to renovate it and place Treaure of the Incas back (that is addicting game!)
From Kevin Baxter on September 28, 2004 at 1:49 AM
Well, I said add a couple for teens, which would be a six. If this place cost $20, I would definitely rate it higher, but a lot of that low score is because it is too damn expensive. Sure, you can go on some passes, but if you choose to go here instead of one of the parks (or even a water park) then you are wasting money. If you MUST go on your pass, go after a day at AK in the evening. Then it isn't like a wasted day.
From Anthony Murphy on September 28, 2004 at 5:10 AM
Very true Kevin to do it after AK. Thats using you time wisely!

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