DisneyQuest, Walt's Disney World's five-story gaming attraction at Downtown Disney, is all about the video games, right? Yes, but that's not all there is to do.
The entire second floor is set up for kids -- and adults -- to explore their creativity by making art, music and roller coasters. At the Animation Academy, guests sit at shiny red desks with embedded computers and learn how to draw Mickey Mouse and his friends from trained Disney artists. The instructor leads the aspiring artists through the process, step by step. Then, finished drawings are displayed in a slide show at the end of the class, and individuals can choose to purchase their drawings on paper. The Artist's Kit also includes a sheet with animation instructions so you can recreate your drawing at home, and you can add a collectible pin, too.
Each class at Animation Academy lasts 25 minutes, and a schedule of the featured characters and times is posted nearby daily. We found this attraction to be a welcome break from all the lights and sounds of the video games, and most kids love to draw and color. Plus, it's an unusual opportunity for guests at Walt Disney World. Only the Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios offers a similar experience.
In the center of the second floor is another drawing opportunity. A circle of Living Easels allows guests to create -- and recreate -- images to their hearts' content. This mostly involves pushing buttons to make the art come to life. A few years ago, we found the concept engaging. Now, with the popularity of touch-screen technology available on iPads, IPod Touches and iPhones, it doesn't seem as complex as some of the apps kids use on a daily basis. Still, it can be a fun diversion while waiting for an animation class. When your Living Easel work is complete, you also can choose to purchase a paper copy.
In the Radio Disney SongMaker booths, guests create custom CDs. The process begins with the guest choosing to be a male or female singer. Next, it's time to select the type of music from a large collection, including rock, pop, country, salsa and reggae. Then, pick your title and piece together your lyrics from funny and traditional sets of phrases. Finally, listen to your song and choose a CD cover. If you love your song, it is, of course, available to purchase. These booths always seem to be popular and provide lots of silly fun.
Remember the boy in "Toy Story" who dismantled toys and created bizarre, sad new ones? Well, you can be him at Sid's Create-A-Toy. Build your toy on the screen from a selection of parts and then take it home afterward (for a price).
Finally, there is the always-popular CyberSpace Mountain, where passengers design a roller coaster and then ride it. Artists can make this as tame or as wild as they choose, even including multiple loops. My 7-year-old daughter loves this simulator, but we ride it sparingly with her because her coasters are always back-to-back loops. There is a 51-inch height requirement to ride, but anyone can design a coaster. A DVD is available for purchase after your ride.
CyberSpace Mountain is similar to Sum of All Thrills, simulators located in Innoventions East at Epcot. Sum of All Thrills seems to offer a smoother ride, though, because it has more precise automation with passengers sitting in chairs connected to moving arms. On CyberSpace Mountain, riders sit in an enclosed capsule that rolls and leans, increasing the nausea factor, in our experience.
DisneyQuest is open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. One-day admission is $37 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9 and $43 for ages 10 and older. Annual passes are $71 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9 and $89 for adults. The Disney Quest & Water Parks Annual Passport is $105.44 for children ages 3 to 9 and $137.39 for adults.
Children younger than 10 must be accompanied by an adult, and strollers are not permitted in the building.
For more details, be sure to check out the AllEars.net resource page http://allears.net/btp/dqfaq.htm
The previous post in this blog was Tips to keep kids happy while waiting in line at Disney World.
The next post in this blog is The Walt Disney Family Museum.