Saturday, January 10, 2015

#47 - Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

Category: Interactives/Memorabilia
Category Rank: 4

Park: Magic Kingdom
Park Rank: 19

I wasn't quite sure if our next item should count for our list, or whether it was considered a "thrill".  Nor was I sure whether it was truly nostalgic or not.  Most of our interaction with the event has been on the thrill side (we only did it on our last family trip, and it was more of a thrill for our youngest two children).  It remains to be seen if our family treats this as nostalgic.

For those not sure what this is, the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive scavenger hunt within Magic Kingdom.  There is a bit of backstory, as Merlin from the Sword in the Stone is recruiting you to help track down the notorious bad guys of Disney movie fame.  Their ringleader, Hades, is attempting to take over the Magic Kingdom by reassembling the Crystal of the Magic Kingdom.  To accomplish this task, you sign up for the adventure at the Main Street firehouse, where you receive a pack of spell cards.  Then you go to different interactive portals hidden within the storefront windows (usually) in the different lands, waving your identification card to activate the next part of the story, and using one of the spell cards to ward off the bad guy.

The idea of interactive role playing games (RPGs) is a new feature being implemented within theme parks over the past decade.  The goal is to create appeal for age groups that might not have appeal otherwise, and to be an attraction for repeat visits.  As a collectible card game, the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is very appealing to both genders, but especially to 2nd thru 5th grade boys, who might not find much of the park that exciting, given its proclivity of rides for young children and princesses.  Plus, it is an activity that you don't undertake the first trip to Disney, when there are so many new things to explore.  We hit it on our fourth family trip.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is also not the only interactive role playing game either.  At Animal Kingdom, there was a Wilderness Explorer game where you can earn badges like Russell from Up.  This only appealed to our youngest daughter, but it made what could otherwise be a boring day at Animal Kingdom going on foot trails with Grandma "who has to see the parrots", she was able to madly scramble around the park to fill up her badge booklet.  She was not successful as account of not enough time, so she still has it, and if age hasn't caught up with her, she will tote it out for completion on our next visit.

At Epcot, there is the Agent P game, which was boring for our youngest, but incredibly fun for our two oldest, and me as well.  Though I'm not a Phineas and Ferb aficionado, I know enough about them to know that they have a very wry sense of humor throughout the cartoon.  The interactive game, where you are seeking to foil Dr. Doofenschmirtz's dastardly plots, is woven into the Epcot World Showcase experience so beautifully that scenes you had taken completely for granted come alive (e.g. we did something to shoot off a projectile that goes into the huge volcano on the back mural of the Mexico pavilion, causing it to erupt... and for all this time, we thought it was just a volcano).  There are some other games that we haven't played yet as well, so this isn't the all-encompassing list.

I'm picking this item for a few different reasons.  It is representative of the RPGs in general, and since it most closely connects with the most nostalgic area (Magic Kingdom) and Disney characters, I more readily pine for WDW when thinking about it.  Plus, it truly fits the "memorabilia" portion of this category, as you keep the cards that you get when you go in.  This includes special cards for events like the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

I'm also picking it because it has the promise to be symbolic of greater things to come for the parks.  This was our first interactive scavenger hunt game that we did, and Disney is actively trying to step up both these and interactive queues to improve the experience.  We can see many more of these added in the future.

But, I'm really picking it for one special event.  As I made this list, I thought about how big an impact first impressions made on me, as many of our firsts appear near the top of our list.  As I mentioned, the first go-round playing this game was so much fun for Zach and Hannah that I was having the time of my life despite it being the fourth trip.  We were in Magic Kingdom, not riding on rides, and still having quite a bit of fun.  How does this happen?

We were in Frontierland by the Liberty Boat ride doing our interactive spot, where we were waiting for two elderly ladies (mid 60s by my estimation... my apologies if the adjective elderly does not apply there) were playing with it.  We at first thought they were having trouble with the game, as they were just standing there, and so Zach attempted to show them what to do.  They smiled and said, "Oh, we know.  We are just deciding which of our spells to use on Dr. Facilier."  Then they showed us this binder full of plastic-sleeve-contained cards that they were using, containing at least 500 cards.  Yeah... you could say they were fans.

We followed them around (there are only so many spots in the hunt, and more often than not, they had us going to the same spots.  At one point, they asked us what cards we had, being this our first time, and they traded us some neat ones for some of our duplicates (giving us a 2 for one deal in the process).  In other words, they made our kids day.

What drives a couple of elder ladies (my apologies again) without kids to come and enjoy a game designed for 10 year olds to the point of amassing a huge collection?  #47 on our list does.

Speaking of interactive queues, we hit a queue for our first time at #46.  It features a ride that was remodeled a few years ago, and went from our biggest disappointing ride on our first trip to one of our favorites.  The new queue is a big reason why.

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