“The Quest” on Disney+ Is An Entertaining Experiment in Immersive Theatrical Storytelling

A new hybrid scripted/unscripted competition series pits a group of teenagers together in an elaborate living theater series that is as fascinating to watch as it is entertaining.

The Quest is a new Disney+ original series that is brought to the screen by the Academy Award- and Emmy-winning teams behind The Lord of the Rings, The Amazing Race and Queer Eye.

Accurately described as a ground-breaking, immersive, hybrid competition series that drops eight real-life teenagers into the fantastic, fictional world of Everealm, the contestants (in the story) must save a Kingdom by fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Throughout the eight-episode series, these kids are immersed in a fantasy world come to life complete with a castle, royals, ethereal Fates, all forms of mystical creatures and a Sorceress intent on destruction and power.

The standout portions of that description really make the show sound like a new experimental reality show a la Survivor, or the aforementioned The Amazing Race. Yes, that’s true but it isn’t. It is a new idea for a reality competition series, but woven into a dramatic family-friendly Game of Thrones-esque tale of different kingdoms, dark magic, and sibling rivalry in a quest to rule the kingdom.

Eight 13-16 year olds from around the country are dropped into the middle of the story and caught up through immersive role-play storytelling. The audience will likely see things from their perspective and find the world in which they live enthralling and the way the game plays out in front of them enticing. The interspersed dramatic moments so that the audience knows the full story (that the players must pick up on elsewhere) tie the whole thing together delightfully and make the whole thing appealing as both a series, and dare I say, a game show.

The series is definitely geared toward a young adult demographic, and would likely have great appeal on Disney Channel or Disney XD. Incorporating the mental and physical challenge aspects of an unscripted competition series along with dramatic storytelling, this will have the YA audience hooked, especially if they are into games like The Legend of Zelda, Dungeons & Dragons, or the like. Each contestant comes from a sort of fantasy fan background as well, and most clearly love participating in what essentially boils down to living theater. Except we see more than they do as the story gets told to us in a cinematic fashion, with their competitions interwoven in. And personally, I feel that the majority of the budget may have gone into the makeup and costumes, especially when looking at some of the creatures that the kids encounter.

I also say the YA audience, but at the same time I’m a grown adult and quickly moved through the episodes afforded to me wondering what would happen next. Sure, the challenges seemed mundane to me, especially because I usually binge the more intense reality competition series The Challenge, which has outlandish physical tasks performed by adults with childish brains. In The Quest, it’s surprisingly reversed and gives me hope for the future generations as these teens are put into predicaments where they act surprisingly mature with fantastic sportsmanship and work together as a team though are told numerous times that they are to work as individuals.

While I likely wouldn’t have gone out of my way to watch The Quest while scrolling through the numerous offerings on Disney+, I will definitely suggest it to others, and hope it catches on with an audience and more kids (or even adults) want to jump into another season  of immersive theater competition. 7/10.

The Quest is set to arrive  on Disney+ on May 11th.

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