One of the most exciting locations at Downtown Disney in Orlando is Disney Quest. The Walt Disney Company markets this facility as an “indoor interactive theme park.” That’s a fancy way of saying that it’s a cutting edge arcade chock-full of glorious distractions. While parents may live in fear of spending time at a place seemingly designed for kids, they shouldn’t be. After all, one out of every six people on the planet plays some form of videogame, and Disney Quest caters to all types of gaming enthusiasts. Better yet, there is a lot of entertainment to be found beyond videogames. Here are ten fun things to do while you’re there.
1. CyberSpace Mountain
You can think of this one as either a game within a game or a game outside a game. It is effectively a kiosk version of Roller Coaster Tycoon. A person is provided a series of options about the types of roller coasters they can design from none other than Bill Nye, “The Coaster Guy.” After a period of a few minutes, an entire coaster track is created based upon the user’s preferences.
There is, however, one key difference between CyberSpace Mountain and a simulator. After you are finished crafting your coaster, you get to ride in it! You and your party enter a “pitch-and-roll” simulator that recreates your singularly unique vision as your own roller coaster experience. Whether you are a daredevil or a person who thinks It’s a Small World is more your speed, CyberSpace Mountain will suit your mood as a coaster lover.
2. Animation Academy
This is one of the hidden gems of Downtown Disney. Most of the people visiting Walt Disney World are animation fanatics yet few of us, me included, are capable of drawing the characters we love. At Animation Academy, guests are invited to participate in half-hour classes that train people in how to bring to life our favorite Disney icons.
The experience is simple. You sit at an interactive desk and use a digital pen to “draw” on the screen, not unlike a tablet app. You can also think of your work station as a glorified, high tech etch-a-sketch. The premise is the same. Your tutor will teach you how to draw the appropriate circles, squares and lines in order to turn a blank page into Donald Duck or the like. It is surprisingly easy to do yet quite fulfilling once you are able to draw something that vaguely resembles an actual Disney character. I wouldn’t know that feeling, though. My wife is always the teacher’s pet at these things while my “art” winds up looking like a glorified Rorschach test.
3. Top Floor Trivia
Disney Quest is designed as a five-level structure, and I personally prefer the top floor. After I’m done failing out of Animation Academy, my self-esteem needs a dramatic boost. So, I head up to the floor that everybody else knows for its videogames, and I sit down in the far right corner. Then, I start bullying complete strangers at trivia. I…have a bit of an advantage since I run a trivia web site, but the complete strangers don’t realize that. All they know about me is that when I try to draw Donald Duck, he winds up looking like a fat snowman wearing a French beret. I need this moral victory, people! But I digress. The point is that if you are a parent looking to kill some time while your kid(s) play(s) a bunch of loud videogames that don’t interest you in the least, trivia is the best way to maintain sanity in the face of childish mayhem.
4. Arcade Games
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t play any games, though. To the contrary, going to visit Disney Quest without playing a videogame is like fasting on Thanksgiving. And the selection is unbelievable! If you are old enough for the Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga era, Disney has you covered. If you prefer something more interactive, they have Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, too. If you prefer pinball, there is an entire section devoted to the 1970s sensation, and many of the selections include Disney characters such as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean pinball.
By the way, Disney Quest has a videogame that isn’t even supposed to exist. Wreck-It Ralph, the instant Disney classic about a Donkey Kong-esque videogame, is part of a fictional game entitled Fix-It Felix Jr. That imaginary game is playable at Disney Quest! You shouldn’t expect much from it, as the controls for 8-bit games like this are absolutely brutal, but if you visit Disney Quest and love the movie, you basically have to give it a try. At the end of the day, arcade games are the primary reason why people frequent Disney Quest, and the facility delivers in this regard. Best of all, you can play for free, as every videogame (not including games of chance) is included in the price of admission.
5. Sid’s Create-a-Toy
The worldwide leader in toy sales misses no opportunity to, you know, sell toys. The second floor’s Create Zone celebrates the mad genius of Sid, the evil kid from Toy Story. As you probably remember, Sid likes to take perfectly good toys, break them and then re-build them to his malevolent intent. While you shouldn’t be so evil in making your toys, this area is basically that concept.
There are about a dozen consoles in the area, and the user is provided the opportunity to select any of the 64 parts available to employ in crafting a new super-doll. Once you are done with the process, your hopefully-not-evil doll can be purchased as you leave the area. It is one thing to buy a Disney toy, but it’s an entirely new and satisfying process to craft your own. Think of the entire experience as a conversation starter for the ages. “Want to see my mad scientist doll? I built it at Disney!”