Welcome to Disney Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole, and I’ll be your guide on today’s trip through an idea that was both theme park and arcade.
This past week, one of the biggest pieces of Disney news occurred when the Maleficent float from the Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom caught on fire. Normally, the dragon blows fire, but in this case, it malfunctioned; and the entire head was engulfed. Luckily, no one was hurt, and Maleficent will one day be able to ride through the streets again.
Now that we are in Walt Disney World, let’s take a look at an area that we haven’t really looked at on this blog before, Disney Springs.
DisneyQuest opened on June 19th, 1998 as a part of then-Downtown Disney. DisneyQuest was the first of a planned series of DisneyQuests set to be placed in urban areas, where the population couldn’t readily visit the Disney Parks. Much of DisneyQuest did not change over the years, so let’s take a quick look around.
After you entered the premises, you were ushered towards a set of elevators where you were greeted by the Genie and whisked up to the third floor of the building.
Today, we are going to start from the bottom and work upwards, though, so first stop, Explore Zone.
As you can tell from the sign, some of the notable attractions in the Explore Zone were based around Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Jungle Cruise. Additionally, there were a lot of arcade games around, a common theme in this so-called interactive theme park, which really functioned more as an arcade on steroids than a theme park. The Aladdin attraction was not very thrilling, but I did take a closer look at Pirates and the Jungle Cruise, which had a little more to offer.
The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was interesting because it was more like a battle video game than the attraction itself. I appreciate that they tried to do something new, but it also just didn’t feel like the Pirates that we know and love.
Next, I explored the Virtual Jungle Cruise, which disappointed even more than Pirates. In the faux attraction, you time-traveled back to the prehistoric era and to see some dinosaurs. The attraction actually felt a lot like Jurassic Park at Universal Studios, but without the cool animatronic dinosaurs.
But the saddest part was that you had no witty host guiding you around, pretty much the entire reason the Jungle Cruise is as amazing as it is. It may have been called the Virtual Jungle Cruise, but other than riding around on water, there was very little to compare the real thing.
Continuing our tour, we reach the Create Zone on the second floor. The highlight of the area was Cyberspace Mountain, where guests could create a rollercoaster and then ride it using advanced motion simulators. Cyberspace Mountain was easily the most impressive exhibit in all of DisneyQuest and a can’t-miss for any roller coaster enthusiasts out there.
Elsewhere in Create Zone, there were multiple places for artistic creativity, one of the few areas that was devoid of arcade games. The zone generally skewed towards younger audiences, giving kids a chance to explore their artistic talents while their older siblings were off doing other things.
Next, we head up to the third floor where we encounter the Replay Zone. Taking up the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the building, the Replay Zone was full of a lot of different arcade games with the headliner of the area being Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblaster.
Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblaster was really cool because it was a combination of bumper cars and a shooting game. Guests had to ride around the area picking up balls that they rolled over. They would then use these balls to shoot at other vehicles driving around and if they hit the target, their opponents would spin around for a few seconds. I remember experiencing this attraction when I visited DisneyQuest as a youngster, and it left a lasting impact as a simple, yet fun attraction.
Outside of Astroblasters, the Replay Zone did not have much going on except arcade games, so let’s move onto our final zone.
If the rest of the area sounded arcade heavy, just wait for the Score Zone, specifically designed to celebrate arcade games and scoring your best. Outside of the normal fun, one can experience in an arcade, one could also play the Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, a large multiplayer game that actually was a lot of fun to play. There was also an early virtual reality experience called Ride the Comix that was very popular amongst guests.
To me, the most interesting attraction in the Score Zone was called Invasion! An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Intended as a tie-in to the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter in the Magic Kingdom, this game was much like the Jungle Cruise and Pirates in that it was almost nothing like the actual attraction. Whereas the attraction was a true horror attraction, Invasion was a very simplistic shooting game where you also had to try and rescue colonists. It was also odd to choose to base a game around a maligned attraction, so I’m sad that it did not end up working out well.
With that, our tour of DisneyQuest comes to an end, but there is still a bit of history left, so join me as we travel to the Windy City.
As I mentioned earlier, Disney’s plan was to make a series of DisneyQuests in major cities across the country and eventually the world. (Eisner was huge on expansion, expansion, expansion.) Those plans became a reality on June 16th, 1999 when the second DisneyQuest opened in Chicago. With things looking up, Disney quickly announced that DisneyQuest would also soon be coming to Philadelphia, Toronto, and Disneyland.
However, Disney spoke a little too soon, with the premise not catching on as much as the company hoped. Preliminary construction had begun for the DisneyQuest in Philadelphia when it was announced that the experiment had failed, with DisneyQuest in Chicago closing on September 4, 2001. It simply wasn’t close enough to a Disney theme park to live up its tagline and couldn’t create the experience that it promised.
Disney World’s DisneyQuest fared quite a bit better, sticking around until July 2, 2017. It managed to stay open amidst rumors of it closing for years, as well as through the completely overhaul of Downtown Disney to become Disney Springs.
Overall, I think DisneyQuest was an awesome idea that simply wasn’t executed correctly. It had the potential to be something truly special that could bring the Disney magic to guests around the world. Unfortunately, it never was able to move past being a giant arcade, but I respect the Company for trying something unique.
With that, here are your clues for next week’s attraction.
- All of these attractions were parades.
- Two of these parades were based around Disney Renaissance films (particularly the later period).
- The third parade was Disneyland’s most recent.
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!