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but the Parks
All you can do without visiting the theme parks
Fun and Games at DisneyQuest
Friday, June 1, 2001
Just in case four major theme parks, three water parks, four miniature golf courses, and dozens of shops are not enough to keep you busy on your vacation, get yourself over to Orlando's Downtown Disney, where you can enjoy a day of playing arcade games Disney style.
In June 1998, Disney got into the arcade business in a big way. If your children goes into a trance at the sight of your resort's ordinary arcade, then a trip to DisneyQuest could be the highlight of their vacation!
DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park (DQ) is located in Downtown Disney, in the section called the West Side. It's hard to miss, since it's a five-story, blue building next door to the unusual white Cirque du Soleil building.
When DisneyQuest first opened, you purchased a prepaid card to swipe through each game's reader. That system was abandoned in favor of a single price admission of $29 per person ($23 for ages 3 to 9). Check your park admission media or ask a cast member; certain types include admission to DisneyQuest. You can also enjoy annual pass and Disney Vacation Club discounts.
Admission entitles you to unlimited play all day for most games including DQ's "big-ticket items." The only games not included in your admission are those midway-style games that dispense tickets redeemable for prizes, such as skeeball, for which you purchase prepaid game cards in increments of $5.
Your admission is good for the entire day, and you are allowed to re-enter with your handstamp during its hours of operation from 10:30 in the morning until midnight (or as late as 1 a.m. on weekends during busy periods). Although DQ has height restrictions ranging from 35" to 51" on some rides, since everyone ages 10 and up is admitted with or without a parent, this a great place to leave your kids while you enjoy a relaxing lunch or do some shopping.
Billed as an indoor interactive theme park, DisneyQuest is not like any arcade I ever saw as a kid! Imagine five floors in a very large building, filled with familiar games, as well as virtual reality and other interactive adventures.
Before you even enter, the entrance itself is an adventure. After passing through the turnstiles, you enter an elevator, but not just any ordinary elevator. As the doors close, you are treated to a "show" featuring the blue genie from Aladdin on one of the walls as the elevator takes you to the starting point on the third floor.
Once out of the elevator, check the tip board for current wait times for the most popular attractions. A wait time of 10-15 minutes is pretty good, but waits longer than 30 minutes may mean you'll be there until dinner time or late at night. Weekends, rainy days, and evenings always seem busier. However on some weekdays, large groups from summer camps may be bused. My 14-year-old son has spent entire days at DisneyQuest, but left early during President's Week last February because he grew tired of the crowds.
Inside are more arcade style games than I've ever seen assembled in one place (including the large arcade at the Contemporary Resort), including racing, shooting, and video games, as well as air hockey, pinball, and basketball shooting. In addition to the midway games, DQ is home to several games that really are more attractions than games. One of the most popular is the relatively new virtual Pirates of the Caribbean.
Groups of four people experience this at a time. After donning virtual reality headgear, guests board the front of a pirate ship. One guest captains the ship, the others work the six cannons and shoot the pirate ships to capture gold. It's alot of fun, even for those who aren't crazy about arcade games.
CyberSpace Mountain sounded intimidating to me, so I stayed away from it for a couple of years. Don't make that same mistake, as it's a really fun yet very mild attraction. Guests design their own roller coaster, ranging from very tame to one full of inversions and rolls. When that step is completed, a cast member puts the guest (and a friend) into a simulator. The ride displays on a screen inside while the simulator moves in unison with video, and other than your going upside down, it's similar to what happens in Star Tours. Friends not able to ride with you can watch the monitor outside the simulator entrance.
The one thing I'm not particularly happy about on CyberSpace Mountain is that they've added an option for you to buy a video of your ride, which they tell you about in a "commercial" that runs after the ride, while you're still in the simulator. The attraction is still a "don't miss" though! DisneyQuest has a one of these simulators on display outside, so you can get an idea what kind of motion you can experience.
One of the more interesting attractions is the virtual Jungle Cruise. Here, up to four guests sit in an inflated rubber raft on an air matress that inflates. On the screen in front of you is a virtual jungle, and you paddle the raft to make the image on the screen move. Your action directs the image on the screen, and you see different scenes based on which way you paddle.
The ride include rapids, with water lightly sprayed at you to enhance the effect. Paddling is hard work though, and it left me realizing I never want to do a real rafting trip, unless an engine is involved!
There are other, more simpler virtual reality attractions such as Hercules in the Underworld, and Ride the Comix, where the headgear you don contains a small screen in front of your eyes, and which turns the screen to the direction your head turns. These attractions generally aren't as impressive as Pirates of the Caribbean, but worth a try at least once.
The virtual reality attractions all contain a 3-D element, causing guests at time to duck from imaginary approaching objects!
A tamer experience can be found on the first floor, where you can drive remote control trucks through a maze under the floor to pick up hidden treasure. You best bring a friend to help out the "driver" faces a computer screen along the wall, where the view is of inside the tunnels under the floor. A friend is helpful to keep an eye on your truck through slats in the floor, and shout instructions to turn left, turn right, back up, and so on. This attraction used to dispense tickets depending on how many treasures you found, but that's been discontinued. There is no height restriction here, either, and young kids seem to enjoy it even if they're not particularly successful at finding treasure.
Another big-ticket item is the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster, which is partly a bumper car attraction. Each enclosed car requires two guests one to drive, and one to control the ammunition. The ammunition are soccer-sized balls which you must pass over and scoop up off the floor. You can then load the ball into the cannon to shoot at other cars. Cars flash their lights and spin around gently when hit by a ball on the target area. People also bump into each other's cars. It's a very popular attraction, especially with kids, but be sure to check the height restriction before heading there with the small kids.
Located on the third floor, Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam is your chance to be a human pinball machine. Guests stands on a numbered spot that corresponds to the number on a ball on the big screen, and use their weight to cause their ball on the screen to work its way through the virtual pinball machine to rack up points. This is actually more fun than I thought it would be - perhaps because I won the only time I played!
The second floor is almost entirely set aside for creative pursuits. In the Animation Academy, you can take a lesson in animation, design a toy (and buy it), and play some games similar to what are and have been available at Image Works in the Epcot Imagination pavilion. Kids too small for the big-ticket attractions should be able to play with some of these machines.
After playing all those games, you may work up quite an appetite. You're in luck, because some of the best fast food can be found in DisneyQuest! There food outlets on the fourth and fifth floors are run by the Cheesecake Factory, and the display case of cheesecake and other scrumptious desserts is enough to get me to DisneyQuest.
Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members get a nominal discount on all food, and you can also use your gift certificates from any Cheesecake Factory.
In typical Cheesecake Factory style, the non-dessert food is great as well, and the portions are very large! You can order pasta, pizza and other Italian offerings, great salads and soups, or try their hot and cold wrap sandwiches, and hamburgers. My son Chris declares the burgers excellent. Most everything is prepared fresh when you order, and the prices are reasonable I think a huge chicken caesar salad was $6.95.
Carry your food to a table with computers that provide free Internet accessing. Access to some areas is restricted of course, since it wouldn't be acceptable to have someone checking out Disney competitor or a porn site! While there, send off some free electronic postcards to your friends back home.
Be warned that DisneyQuest is very noisy inside! Between the games, the background music, and the hordes of kids, it's probably the noisiest spot at WDW.
Although there are benches scattered around for you to sit on while your kids play, they are in relatively few areas. If you must stay inside while your kids are there, you can find plenty of seating up on the fourth floor.
Kids under age 3 are admitted for free, but strollers are not permitted at all. In my opinion, paying for anyone under age eight or so is probably a waste of money, but each child and family is different. There is no discounted or free admission for people who enter but do not play any games, which is something to consider when deciding how many of the family will head over there. There is security inside keeping an eye on things, but I haven't heard of any problems. Perhaps it is this security presence or the presence of large numbers of families, but DQ does not appear to be a hangout for local teens.
To get to DisneyQuest, either drive to the West Side at Downtown Disney and park in the large parking lot, or hop on a Disney bus from your WDW resort. Take the Downtown Disney bus, and the West Side is the third stop within Downtown Disney. People who live or visit the Chicago area have the only other DisneyQuest, but I believe that one does not have the all-inclusive admission price.
If you've got an arcade game fanatic in your family, DisneyQuest is definitely worth a trip, although you might have trouble getting him out of there and into the other parks! I've joked that I could save myself some money by not purchasing my son an annual pass for the parks, since he'd be happy with just a DisneyQuest annual pass, which costs under $100! My annual pass gives me access to that wonderful cheesecake, too.
Contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disney's Boardwalk has more shopping, dining, and entertainment options, too.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
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