When I was little, whenever my Dad, brother, and I were out for a drive in our family’s elaborate 1970s customized van, we used to play a game we called “Disney World Rides.” Basically, it was a variant of “20 Questions,” except the answer was always some attraction/shop/you-name-it at Disney World. It was an intensely fun game, not because it was actually that great of a game, but because it gave me an excuse to think and talk about Disney World, which was what I wanted to be doing all of the time. (I even remember, with my Dad’s help, writing a very simple version of the game that played on the shiny new Atari 800 home computer we purchased around that time.)

It’s now 30 years later, and it was time for “Disney World Rides” to grow up. I’ve written a game called “Wishing Stars” for the iPhone, and thanks to today’s technology, it’s way more of an adventure than “Disney World Rides” ever was. The premise: dozens of Wishing Stars have been hidden around Disneyland (Disney World, too, coming in November), and it’s your job to find them. How do you do that? Solve clues that will lead you to locations where the virtual stars are “hidden.” (Using the GPS magic packed into your iPhone, the app can figure out whether you’re standing in the spot that the clue is leading you to.) You can see it in action at http://wishing-stars.com/demo.php.

What I’m most excited about is the opportunity to lead people to the hidden, under-traveled places that I love at the Disney parks. I’ve always felt Tom Sawyer Island/Pirates’ Lair was an undiscovered gem; with the creation of a Wishing Stars Quest that takes players there…voila! Players will now have an incentive to discover it.* Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant is one of my favorite experiences, yet virtually unknown to most. A new Quest in the upcoming Disney World release of Wishing Stars will solve that problem.

This gets to the underlying challenge: you see people using their phones while waiting in line on Space Mountain, playing Tetris and browsing Facebook. But wouldn’t it be great if what people were doing on their phone could immerse them further into the Disney experience, rather than distract from it? By taking people to the places that make the Disney parks special–as well as providing some “in-queue quests” that can be played while waiting in line–hopefully Wishing Stars will be a true enhancement to a park experience rather than a distraction.

I hope those that are intrigued will try it out. Let me know about your experience! For the latest in Wishing Stars news, you can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wishing_stars. And I’m going to be at the D23 Expo, so those of you who’d like to talk about the game can meet up with me in person! (Twitter is the best way to coordinate…)

* The dragon drama on Pirates’ Lair over the summer kept me from including the Pirates’ Lair Quest in first release of the game (one of the Wishing Star locations was hidden by construction walls!) But now that things seemed to be fixed, my Pirates’ Lair quest will be included in the next update!



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