I visited Walt Disney World this past summer, and it was just as magical
as always. This was my 14th trip to the Disney parks in Orlando,
and the people I went with relied on my expertise to make our way around
the parks in an efficient manner (read: they used me to optimize the
number of rides and attractions we rode/saw in each park). Since they
considered me a Disney expert, I figured I’d share my knowledge of
Mickey’s realm to help others plan their trips to the most magical place
Looking for some virtual Disney magic? Visit DisneyQuest, the only Disney park designed to put you in the middle of the action.
DisneyQuest is Disney’s way of reaching out to visitors who either don’t have the time or money to visit the main parks or who prefer to avoid the long lines, afternoon showers, and costumed characters. Located in Disney Springs West Side (AKA Downtown Disney for long-time visitors), DisneyQuest is a multistory, indoor virtual reality wonderland. What it lacks in the usual theme parkiness it makes up for with unique, technologically-inclined attractions. Each floor offers a variety of interactive games and rides designed to put visitors right in the middle of the action, whether they’re becoming a human pinball or paddling their way down a prehistoric river. It’s surprisingly easy to get a bit disoriented from one floor to the next—the stairways are sometimes hard to find and the low lighting isn’t the best for reading signs and such—but there’s something interesting hiding in almost every corner to keep you busy while you try to navigate the building. And if that isn’t enough, it’s all air conditioned, so if you decide playing pirate or Space Ranger isn’t for you, you can take a break and soak up all the beeps and boops in the cool air.
Favorite Ride: CyberSpace Mountain
Get ready for twists and turns as you ride a virtual roller coaster designed by you!
Anyone who’s ever ridden a roller coaster has, at one point or another, thought about designing their own. It’s a fact of life. Everyone has wondered how much more exciting their favorite coaster would be if it had just one more loop, one more drop, one more flip over a lava flow…
Okay, probably not that last one. But with CyberSpace Mountain, it’s a possibility. CyberSpace Mountain allows you to design your very own coaster, first choosing the world setting and then selecting from the on-screen options to design the track. Each world allows for some exclusive ride features (like the aforementioned lava flow jump), but there are also all the standards loops, drops, corkscrews, (and for the faint of heart) gentle curves, and straight shots.
Oh, and your design experience is guided by Bill Nye. Yeah, that Bill Nye. It’s nothing super spectacular, but it’s a nice touch and it’s fun to have him react to your choices.
Once your coaster is complete, you’re given a rating based on the thrill factor of your ride, with ‘5′ being the craziest, most intense coaster you could’ve designed. (Personally, I’ve never managed to get a ‘5′, and trust me, I’ve tried. My ‘4′s have been pretty wild, so a ‘5′ would have to be pretty epic.)
After you’re finished designing, you get to ride your new coaster! Each simulator pod fits up to 2 people for the ride, and it’s kind of surreal to actually experience all the twists and turns and jumps that were simply videos on a screen minutes before.
Some advice, though: throw long hair back in a ponytail or something or you’ll end up eating it, and completely empty your pockets as instructed! Getting hit in the face with loose change on the first loop hurts. Otherwise, CyberSpace Mountain is a blast from start to finish, letting you flex your creative muscles and experience a one-of-a-kind virtual coaster.
Underrated Ride: Arcade Games
Visit the arcade, where you can lose yourself in games both old and new!
Who hasn’t spent a bit too much time glued to some version of a video game at some point in their life? Scattered here and there between the floors, with a large concentration on one of the upper floors, are dozens of arcade games. There’s something for everyone, with games ranging from newer releases like Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, and Fruit Ninja to old classics such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Galaga, and more. For something more unique, they even offer a few machines of Fix It Felix, Jr., taken straight from the hit movie Wreck-It Ralph. If the lines for the bigger attractions are too long or you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia amidst all the virtual reality, you can’t go wrong with spending some time in the arcade.
Other Recommended Rides:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold – Ahoy, matey! Chart your own course as you sail your pirate ship in search of gold. But you’d better hope your crew has good aim – enemy ships and sea monsters abound, and they’re not about to let you get away without a fight!
Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam – Become a human pinball! Try to score the most points as you rock and twist your ball between the obstacles and the other players to take first place before time runs out.
Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters – Bumper cars with a twist. Avoid enemy projectiles as you scoop up ‘asteroids’ and try to slow down other players. Get hit and you’re in for a freak-out of cosmic proportions.
Although DisneyQuest has a prime location and has a lot of fun things to offer, its lower-than-expected attendance levels and slow updating have led to the interactive park becoming somewhat of a bust. Last year, Disney announced that it would be closing DisneyQuest to repurpose the building into some sort of NBA-related attraction. In the past month, however, rumors have arisen that the project has been delayed or completely cancelled, leaving the fate of DisneyQuest up in the air.
As of now, DisneyQuest is still open until further notice, although operating hours have been cut, and I can’t see that ‘until further notice’ lasting a lot longer. So what does that mean? That means you need to get to DisneyQuest while you still can! If you’re looking for something to do for a few hours in the evening or you want a Disney experience but can’t bear to even think about spending another day out in the Florida heat, check out DisneyQuest. Bill Nye wants to chat with you.