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May 11, 2016

Disney Infinity to be discontinued; Disney stops self-publishing video games

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The Walt Disney Company announced during its quarterly earnings report on Tuesday that it is discontinuing the Disney Infinity video game. Some industry experts suspected as much when the company did not announce a new version of the game – Disney Infinity 4.0 – this year as it has done each year since the game debuted in 2013.

“We have two final retail releases coming, including three new characters from ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ later this month, and the ‘Finding Dory’ Play Set launching in June,” wrote John Blackburn, Disney Infinity senior vice president and general manager, in a message on DisneyInteractive.com.

“From the beginning, Disney Infinity was built for you — our fans — and I wanted to take a moment to thank you not just for your support over the years, but for creating a community that made Disney Infinity more than just a game,” Blackburn wrote.

Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger said during the earnings report that the company will stop self-publishing video-game titles and instead license its characters to other production companies. That does not mean another company will assume the production of Disney Infinity, however.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Avalanche Software, the studio that developed the three versions of Disney Infinity, was closed and almost 300 workers were laid off.

When Disney Infinity was launched in 2013, it did well and Disney fans were really excited about collecting all the Disney figures. At D23, the mega convention for Disney fans held in Anaheim, Calif., that year, Disney Interactive gave attendees at its presentation a limited edition Sorcerer Mickey Mouse figure. Many of the 5,000 figures showed up on eBay and actually were selling for hundreds of dollars.

But don’t expect that kind of frenzy on the secondary market with the announcement of the end of Disney Infinity. Iger reportedly said that the decision to cancel the game is tied to a $147 million second-quarter loss blamed on a surplus of unsold products.

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The strength of Disney Infinity is in its ability to allow players to create their own stories and solutions to obstacles. Disney Infinity is played with a console gaming system, physical characters and the Disney Infinity Base. Players can save the characters, vehicles, upgrades and gadgets they collect in their adventures in the virtual toy box. The toy box can be accessed at any time in the game to create one-of-a-kind experiences, even mixing items from the different movie franchises.

Multiplayer toy box expansion games allowed users to play with all of the Disney, Disney-Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars characters in their collections from Disney Infinity 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. The enhanced toy box includes Toy Box Takeover (action-adventure) and Toy Box Speedway (kart racing).

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"Disney Infinity is the only game where fans can play with Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars characters together in one experience," James Pitaro, president of Disney Interactive, said in a press release.

Disney Infinity 3.0 is available on PlayStation4, PlayStation3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles, as well PCs and iOS and Android devices.

Are you a Disney Infinity Fan? What is your reaction to the news?



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July 23, 2015

Enter Disney Infinity IN Games for chance to compete at D23 and on Disney Dream

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Leading up to the launch of Disney Infinity 3.0 on Aug. 30 – and the introduction of the Star Wars franchise to the gaming system – Disney Interactive is hosting three summer tournaments. The three winners will be invited the final round of the contest, which will take place onboard the Disney Dream cruise ship in its new Disney Infinity zone.

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The first leg of the tournament was held during Comic Con in San Diego in July, and the second contest takes place on Aug. 15 during the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif. But the deadline to enter is this week – 11:59 p.m. PT July 26 to be exact. Disney Interactive will choose 16 players for this leg of the tournament. They will be filmed for broadcast during the tournament at D23, and all 16 will receive Disney Infinity Prize Packs.

To get started, potential contestants should make a video that is no longer than 1 minute in length. In it, the player must:

** State his or her first name only to protect privacy.
** Tell what he or she likes most about Disney Infinity.
** Describe his or her favorite toy box ever made and explain why.
** Choose a favorite Disney Infinity figure and explain the selection.
** The video must be all original content, so get creative!

There are a few rules, too, that must be followed:

** Entrants must be at least 13 years old, and those who are minors must have a parent or guardian’s permission.
** Entrants must be legal residents of and physically live within the 50 United States or the District of Columbia.
** If other people are in the video, they only can be immediate family members. They also can only use first names.
** There cannot be any brands or logos, other than Disney, visible in the background or on clothing.
** No rude gestures or profanity and other inappropriate behavior will be accepted.
** Only one video per person may be entered.

Disney Interactive offers these tips for making a great video:

** Make sure to hold the camera so your video comes out wider than it is tall, like a movie screen.
** Use sunlight, light bulbs, whatever! Shoot with lots of light coming from behind the camera and shining on you or your family!
** The closer you are to the camera or separate microphone, the better your voice will sound.

The winner of each of the three legs of the tournament, including the upcoming contest at the D23 Expo, receives a Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition Starter Pack and a trip to the IN Games Finals Nov. 6-9 on the Disney Cruise Line, aboard the Disney Dream. “This epic showdown will take place inside the new immersive Disney Infinity zone onboard the Disney Dream. While onboard competitors will have the chance to pilot hyperspace inside the new Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, taste goodies galore at Vanellope’s Sweet & Treats, and unwind after the competition at Disney’s private island paradise, Castaway Cay,” promotional materials state. The 3-night Bahamian cruise includes the following:

** 2 coach airfares if the winner resides outside a 200 mile radius of the ship’s home port.
** Round trip ground transportation from the airport to the ship.
** 3-night cruise on the Disney Dream for two people in one stateroom. This includes pre-paid gratuities, government taxes, fees and port expenses (as defined in the Disney Cruise Line brochure), plus all meals, except at Palo and Remy.

Log in here to enter!

Fans at a D23 presentation on Sunday, Aug. 16, will be among the first to see new gameplay, trailers and surprises from Disney Interactive. Throughout the weekend, guests on the expo floor will be able to experience play sets and new Star Wars characters from Disney Infinity 3.0 before their release date. Plus, they will receive limited-edition giveaways.



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May 23, 2015

Disney Infinity 3.0 brings Stars Wars franchise to gamers

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The Force is coming to a galaxy not so far away for gamers. Disney Interactive has announced that it will launch a third edition of Disney Infinity this fall that focuses on the popular Star Wars franchise.

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The Disney Infinity 3.0 starter pack will include the updated version of the game, a 3.0 edition base, Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker figures, one Star Wars "Twilight of the Republic" play set piece, and one web code card. A bonus: The price of the starter pack has dropped by about $10 over previous versions.

Three play sets have been announced for Disney Infinity 3.0. One is "Twilight of the Republic," which is a new, original chapter of the Star Wars Saga, set in the Episodes I-III timeline. Disney Interactive promises gamers will use "the Force and Lightsabers in epic battles as Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Darth Maul." The second, "Rise Against the Empire," features missions with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader. This play set takes place during the original trilogy and allows players to pilot X-Wing Fighters and the Millennium Falcon to planets, such as Tatooine and Hoth, and the moon Endor.

The third Star Wars play set that will be released later this winter will be based on the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie due out in December.

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Multiplayer toy box expansion games will allow users to play with all of the Disney, Disney-Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars characters in their collections from Disney Infinity 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. The enhanced toy box will include Toy Box Takeover (action-adventure) and Toy Box Speedway (kart racing).

"Disney Infinity is the only game where fans can play with Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars characters together in one experience," James Pitaro, president of Disney Interactive, said in a press release. "We worked closely with Lucasfilm to deliver an authentic Star Wars game experience, featuring some of the most iconic stories and characters from the past, present and future."

In addition to the introduction of Star Wars franchise, Disney Infinity 3.0 will introduce other popular characters. Look for a play set with all five emotions from Disney-Pixar's upcoming animated movie "Inside Out": Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. Plus, there is a new Marvel play set that will include Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ultron, and "Tron" characters Sam Flynn and Quorra will be sold as physical figures. Fan-favorite characters Mickey, Minnie, Mulan and Olaf also will be joining Toy Box 3.0.

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Disney Infinity 3.0 is again being developed by Avalanche Studios, which helped create the first two versions of the game. It will be available on PlayStation4, PlayStation3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles, as well PCs and iOS and Android devices.

Expect to see more news about Disney Infinity 3.0 released at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) on June 16 in Los Angeles. Current rumors that have yet to be officially confirmed are that Disney Infinity 3.0 will have eight play sets and that the play set pieces will no longer be sold in blind sets.



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August 28, 2014

Disney Interactive offering free download of Disney Infinity for Wii U

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Good news for families, like my own, who have been playing the popular Disney Infinity game on their Nintendo Wii systems and want to continue playing the game on the latest Nintendo platform without having to repurchase the game.

When Disney's revamp of the Disney Infinity game comes out next month, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes will only be able to be played on Nintendo's Wii U, not the Nintendo Wii or even the company's 3DS platform.

Disney Infinity 2.0 also will be compatible with Playstation 4, Xbox One, iOS tablets, PCs and smartphones. But what about all the Nintendo gamers who have been playing Disney Infinity on Wii since the game was released a year ago?

Well, Disney Interactive is making it easier to enjoy playing the original game on the Nintendo Wii U, if you choose to upgrade game systems, with your existing accessories. You can get the free download at the Wii U eShop and then use your Wii U Gamepad to start creating worlds in the Toy Box or unlocking items in the Play Sets. You also will be able to enjoy online multiplayer modes of play, as well.

This free download is a great concept that gives gamers who already own Disney Infinity toys and the game for Wii a chance to move up to the Wii U and still play with their game pieces without buying a new copy of the game for Wii U.

Note that you will need a Disney Infinity base and figure to use the free 9.15 GB download.

Like the Disney Interactive site explains: "Play as Sulley in his early student days in the world of Monsters University, plunge into adventure as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean, and activate the powers of Mr. Incredible on a quest to save the world from Syndrome and his super villains in The Incredibles Play Set."

"Disney Infinity launched one year ago, and in that time the number of Wii U players has significantly expanded," said John Blackburn, Vice President and General Manager of Avalanche Software, in a press release. "Given our commitment to compatibility for our players, we wanted existing Wii owners to be able to experience the Wii U version of the first game for free. With the upcoming launch of the 2.0 Edition of Disney Infinity we want all Nintendo players to experience the game's Wii U functionality."

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Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes is scheduled to hit shelves in September. In addition to the heroes and villains, other collectable characters to be released include Donald Duck, Jasmine, Aladdin and Tinker Bell.

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Merida and Stitch will be featured in a new Toy Box Starter Kit for Disney Infinity 2.0. It also includes the same video game disc as the Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack; a Disney Infinity base; Disney Originals "Toy Box Game Discs" - Stitch's Tropical Rescue and Brave Forest Siege; one web code card; and a poster. The Toy Box Starter Kit goes on sale in November.

Activision, which owns competing franchise Skylanders, offered a similar incentive earlier this summer. Gamers with Skylanders Trap Team for Wii were offered the Wii U version for free.



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June 12, 2014

Disney-themed ideas for Father's Day gifts kids can make at home

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Father's Day is just around the corner, which means moms of young children everywhere might be scrambling to finish those homemade gifts featuring handprints and footprints or kids' artwork. We all cherish those, to be sure. But if you're looking for some new ideas for crafts -- especially those with a Disney theme -- let me offer some easy and inexpensive ideas that can be completed in time for Sunday's celebration.

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For the Star Wars fan, Freeze Pop Sabers will help banish The Dark Side and keep everyone's hands from freezing in the process. No Carbonite here! This clever idea is in the June/July issue of FamilyFun magazine.

The directions:
For each, cut a 3-inch by 4-inch rectangle from gray felt. Fold it over a freeze pop and use fabric glue to seal the side and bottom edges. Clamp the fabric closed with binder clips or clothespins, if needed. Slip the felt off the pop. Glue on stripes and dots of black and colored felt. When your pop is frozen and the glue is dry, you're ready to battle the heat!

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I can't tell you how much I love this next gift, which is a free sheet of printable coupons. Dads who spent their vacations criss-crossing the theme parks of Walt Disney World to gather the old paper FastPasses will appreciate this present, as well. The twist on the time-honored tradition of giving fathers the gift of doing his household chores is that the coupons are designed to look like paper FastPasses, which were retired earlier this year.

The directions:
On Disney's Spoonful.com, go to this printable PDF, which includes six DadsPasses. You cannot edit the file, but there really isn't a need to. The expiration date is 2112, meaning the passes are good for Dad's lifetime. Just don't give him any trouble when he's ready to cash them in!

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Does the father in your family enjoy video games just as much as the kids? If so, the kids can create a personalized storage box for all your Disney Infinity figures and discs.

The directions:
This craft can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. Start with a box that is the size of a shoebox or larger. Cover it in plain craft paper or construction paper of various hues. Then, let your child decorate it. You can use pictures from the game pieces' packaging, stickers that show Disney characters or your child's own artwork. The possibilities are infinite!

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Turn an ordinary visor into a mouse-ear hat. Whether you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World or just want to show your appreciation for The Mouse, this hat will provide protection from the sun and rock Dad's Disney side at the same time.

The directions:
Purchase an inexpensive plain foam visor and a sheet of self-adhesive black foam from your local craft store. Cut out four circles of the same size and two small rectangle tabs. Place the rectangles between each pair of the circles on the edge and stick together. The rectangles will serve as tabs to be inserted through small slits on the visor. Once the ears are in place, tape the tab on the underside of the visor with colorful duct tape. This idea is modified from one on Disney's Spoonful.com

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Of course, no celebration is complete without cupcakes! Disney's Spoonful.com features these adorable beach-inspired Mickey Mouse cupcakes that are perfect for any summer holiday.

The directions:
Cut a square of freezer paper that is slightly bigger than the top of your cupcake -- about a 3.5 inch square. You'll notice that one side of the paper is shiny and one side is matte. On the matte side, draw or trace your design. Using a sharp craft knife, cut out your design. (This is a job for adults!) Frost your cupcakes with a knife or spatula. Lay your stencil, shiny side DOWN, on top of the frosting and press gently around the edges to prevent leaks. Pour graham cracker crumbs all over the top of the cupcake and then shake it gently over a bowl to remove the excess.

Happy Father's Day!



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April 5, 2014

Tips for using your Walt Disney World MagicBand with Disney Infinity game

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Disney Infinity fans have known since the game system launched that if they receive and use a MagicBand, they can unlock special theme park content once they get home. With the rollout this week of MagicBands to day guests -- meaning everyone has access to the RFID bracelets -- I thought it might be a good time to remind visitors about the hidden content.

The key to collecting the Easter eggs in the game, which the Disney Infinity player will be able to save for future use, is patience. They are unlocked as you play the game over time.

To begin, you'll need to start the game in Toy Box mode with a character on the base. Then, touch your MagicBand to the spot where a game disc usually is placed. Within a couple minutes, a message will flash on the screen indicating that the MagicBand has been detected.

Spoiler alert: If you want to be surprised by the bonus content, you'll want to stop reading here.

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In build mode, look for the first surprise, Dragon's Gate, which is the entry into the bonus content, and it also unlocks a flying, fire-breathing dragon. Dragons have a long history in The Walt Disney Co. -- from Maleficent's dragon form in 1959's "Sleeping Beauty" to "Pete's Dragon" to Epcot's Figment -- and most recently they were re-introduced during the launch of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. On that day in December 2012, a dragon "flew" over the crowds, surprising everyone.
(You can see video here.)

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The dragon in Disney Infinity releases green capsules that contain the other Easter eggs during game play. It may take 10 to 15 minutes between drop-offs for each capsule to appear. The player should open each capsule when he or she sees it and save the content. The collection includes:

** Dragon's Domain, which includes "surfaces and objects inspired by the Disney Dragon."

** Dragon's Flight Sky, which is a new, mountainous and cloudy sky, perfect for the dragon.

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There is a fourth surprise, Dragon's Keep, that is not available on the Wii platform. You'll need Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Wii U to access it. It's "a fantasy-filled Toy Box, for the Disney Dragon." This content gives the player a new, pre-built world to play in, and I have to say, it looks amazing. My family has a Wii, so we were unable to play in Dragon's Keep, but we have admired it in YouTube videos.

For those not familiar with Disney Infinity, here is a simple explanation of how the game works and what the pieces do. Beginning this month, the Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack is now available at retailers nationwide.

To read more about Disney Infinity, see my collection of blog posts here.



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February 6, 2014

Disney Infinity Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse finally available to public

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THE most anticipated collectible figure so far for Disney Infinity -- Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse -- finally is going to hit shelves at most gaming retailers on Sunday. However, one retailer already is magically selling it this week. Through Feb. 8, the game piece is being sold exclusively at Wal-Mart.

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The demand for this figure began last summer when it was introduced at the D23 Expo, which is a bi-annual convention for Disney enthusiasts held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Attendees at the Disney Interactive panel were surprised to receive the game piece after it was unveiled to the audience at the conclusion of the presentation.

Only 5,000 were created for D23 and distributed before the game even launched. Many of those pieces quickly made their way to eBay, where they were listed for more than $100 each. The only other way fans could get their hands on the hot Sorcerer's Apprentice figure was to purchase the Infinite Bundle, which was a holiday item that included 13 Disney Infinity characters (including Mickey Mouse), two play sets, and one toy box pack for $199.99 plus tax.

Now, however, Disney Infinity players in North America can bring the Mickey Mouse figure home for the much more reasonable $12.99 plus tax. Mickey Mouse is a universal character, meaning it can be used on any of the various console platforms -- Wii, Wii-U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS.

For those not familiar with Disney Infinity, here is a simple explanation of how the game works and what the pieces do. Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse is a single character, meaning it works only with other toys in the Toy Box. (There is no "world" for Mickey yet, because he is not part of a play set. Instead, you create your own world with what you have collected in your toy box.)

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"Mickey's Magical Escape" is a Toy Box adventure that the character unlocks. Each player helps Mickey escape from the castle while it is surrounded by the iconic brooms. Mickey can use either of his tools to accomplish this objective. The Magic Burst gives Mickey a surge of energy to confuse and escape his enemies, and the Magic Sweep allows Mickey to jump over the broomsticks. This adventure is a timed one, and the quicker you help Mickey escape, the greater your reward. Players who make like Houdini in less than 1:45 minutes earn a gold medal. If Mickey makes it out in less than 2:30 minus, the silver medal is yours. Take up to 7 minutes and you'll take home the bronze.

It is rumored that Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse will become part of the Infinite Crystal series that is sold only at Toys R Us. The Crystal figures look different in the game, have the ability to earn bonus health and experiences, and have their own statues in the Hall of Heroes.

Mickey Mouse also is represented in Disney Infinity with his car on one of the Series 1 Power Discs. When placed on the game base, this disc allows the player to drive Mickey's red jalopy in the Toy Box mode. Doing so changes the music of the game to the familiar "Mickey Mouse March."

As you would expect with the most famous mouse in the world, this game piece lives up the expectation that only Mickey Mouse can deliver. My elementary-age son enjoyed playing with the character and, of course, gave it a centerpiece display among all his other Disney Characters whenever he stored the pieces near his gaming console.

You can read more about Disney Infinity here.

DISCLAIMER: I received a review copy of Disney Infinity's Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse. My opinions are my own.



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November 22, 2013

Disney Infinity's new characters for the holidays will please both boys and girls

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For many Disney Infinity fans, this weekend just might be more exciting than Black Friday. Don't expect to skip the lines, though, unless you pre-ordered the gaming merchandise being released soon.

Several eagerly anticipated pieces are being released, including the first official Disney Princess character and several other popular female figures. Today, players can purchase Rapunzel from "Tangled" (a Wal-Mart exclusive) and Ralph from "Wreck-It Ralph" (a Best Buy exclusive). On Sunday, everyone's favorite computer-game glitch, Vanellope von Schweetz, will be released only at Target. And on Tuesday, the day before "Frozen" hits theaters, a toy pack with the movie's characters, Anna and Elsa, and two related power discs will be available in stores.

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Recently, I was able to ask Disney Infinity's executive producer, John Vignocchi, about the infusion of girl power coming to the game.

Why were Rapunzel and Anna and Elsa chosen as the first princesses? Why not some of the classic Disney Princesses, such as Cinderella (who already has her coach in play), Ariel, or Belle? When can we expect to see those figures?

Princess Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa and Vanellope deliver some serious girl power to the Disney Infinity Toy Box. The decision to use Rapunzel was partially due to timing; "Tangled" was just wrapping when we were developing Infinity and it just seemed like a natural choice. She also delivers unique gameplay options with her frying pan. Which brings up a good point - timing is important, but even more critical is the gameplay each character can bring to Disney Infinity. Frozen's Anna and Elsa deliver grappling mechanics and freezing power, and Vanellope's glitch is a unique power that kids are going to love. [It will allow her to teleport short distances and glitch out characters that come in contact with her.] In terms of the future, we are working in tandem with all areas of Disney to determine future additions.

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Will Rapunzel use her hair to her advantage?

Yes, Rapunzel's hair (and her frying pan) are major aspects of the character that will translate into fun gameplay. It was really amazing to work with the Disney animators on Rapunzel. " Through our collaboration we were able to craft what turned out to be one the game's most detailed figures.

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""Will Anna or Elsa use snow and ice to their advantage?

Yes, definitely. The cool thing is that not only do you get Anna and Elsa in one pack, you get two power discs that help layer the sky and ground into a winter wonderland theme. And of course, we wanted to make sure that would play to the pair. Anna has a fun climb and swing mechanic and Elsa has what we are calling a "cold shoulder" feature where she uses the snow and ice in unique ways. [Anna will be able to use her grappling hook to get to hard-to-reach places and use her shovel to defeat enemies. Elsa will utilize her magical ice abilities, such as using the Freeze Ball to stop opponents in their tracks.]

Do you have any indication if characters like Rapunzel and Anna and Elsa and Vanellope are leading more girls into gameplay with Disney Infinity? Is that the design of their concept?""

Disney Infinity is a family game, so we have chosen a line-up of characters that appeals to boys and girls. In fact, Mrs. Incredible, Violet and Jessie are extremely popular characters with boys and girls because of their unique gameplay abilities. I know the addition of Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa and Vanellope is highly anticipated, and we expect them to be popular with girls. They also will allow every player to create all-new stories in the Toy Box.

Are there any holiday surprises for players to unlock in Disney Infinity?

Make sure to check out our Toy Box Thursdays because we have a few fun holiday-themed challenges coming up that fans will enjoy.  We are also so impressed by the creations that the Infinity community has created, and every week they keep topping themselves. We can't wait to see what they do with these new themed challenges. [The winners of the Toy Box Thanksgiving Parade Challenge can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDM4wAft_vw]

Clearly, these new holiday-season game characters offer infinite possibilities of Disney Infinity gameplay for both boys AND girls, and the upcoming challenges will appeal to all players, too.

The new merchandise also seems to promise a lot more fun than standing in line at the mall this Friday, as well. Where's the power disc to make that day more bearable?



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August 16, 2013

Disney Infinity on sale today with free gift at Downtown Disney

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Those of you who have been counting the days -- um, minutes -- until the release of Disney Interactive's new gaming system Disney Infinity know that Sunday is the day when it goes on sale nationally. But guests at Walt Disney World can pick up the starter kit two days early and get a free character piece with the purchase.

Today, a gaming booth is set up at Once Upon a Toy store at the Downtown Disney Marketplace. From 4 to 9 p.m., guests can play Disney Infinity with creators of the game. (However, Disney Infinity will be available for purchase at the store when it opens.) My son, who is among those chomping at the bit to get his hands on Disney Infinity, was fortunate to have this experience back in June when a Disney Infinity gaming booth was part of Car Masters Weekend. (Read more about what he learned from one of the concept artists and a game designer here.)

At that time, my daughter asked the game developers a most pressing question: Will any Disney Princesses be joining the game? They hinted the royal beauties may be coming, and, at the D23 Expo last weekend, it was revealed that Rapunzel would indeed be released in the second wave of characters later this year. Other female characters include Vanellope von Schweetz ("Wreck-It Ralph") and Anna and Elsa ("Frozen"). Additional new character pieces include favorite characters Jack Skellington, Wreck-It Ralph, Phineas and Agent P.

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D23 participants were given a Sorcerer Mickey character piece, and, of course, some already have made their way onto eBay. Before you shell out the hundreds of dollars they are selling for, though, know that the Sorcerer Mickey character will be available for purchase in January.

Disney Infinity allows players to place physical versions of their favorite Disney characters onto an Infinity Base and seemingly transport them into the virtual worlds of "Monsters University," the "Incredibles," "Cars," "Pirates of the Caribbean," the "Lone Ranger" and "Toy Story." What sets Disney Infinity apart from a similar game like Skylanders, though, is its Toy Box feature, which allows users to mix various Disney and Pixar stories and characters.

In other recent Disney Infinity news, it was announced Thursday that a series of collectible figures with enhanced gaming abilities -- called Infinity Crystal Series -- will be sold exclusively at Toys 'R' Us. These figures will help players earn bonus experience points and health to give their characters an extra edge and more play time, plus access a special in-game area to display their crystal figures. Additionally, Toys 'R' Us is the only retailer that will offer exclusive Power Discs, which when placed on the Disney Infinity base, unlock unique in-game powers, vehicles, gadgets and more.

Power Discs also unlock music. The Disney Infinity soundtrack includes: "Condorman Main Theme," "Jessie's In Trouble," "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes," "Peter Pan Ride Music," "Sugar Rush Showdown," "Re-Animation," "Saving Metroville," "End Title," "Wow - Score," "Gitchee Gitchee Goo," "Sugar Rush," "Recognizer," "Zurg's Planet," "Wall-E," "Mickey Mouse March," "Something That I Want," "All In a Golden Afternoon," and "Tracks from Tron: Evolution."

Anticipating great demand for Disney Infinity, the Toys 'R' Us will open an hour early on Aug. 18 -- the official launch day in North America. On Sept. 7, all Toys 'R' Us stores nationwide will host a Disney Infinity Power Disc Trade event from noon to 2 p.m., giving kids the opportunity to exchange their own Disney Infinity Power Discs with other fans and receive special offers on Disney and Disney Infinity products.

June 18, 2013

Disney Infinity: My kids preview game with help from artist, designer

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Disney Interactive Studios invited gamers and Disney guests on both coasts to play its much-talked about new gaming system, Disney Infinity, this past week for the first time. At E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles, players formed long lines to try their hands at the game that has been compared repeatedly to Activision's Skylanders. In Orlando, the game was set up for two days at Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney's West Side.

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There was no way my 10-year-old son wanted to miss out on the opportunity to preview Disney Infinity two months before its Aug. 18 North America release date, so we headed to Walt Disney World and braved the crowds Sunday afternoon. When we arrived, the line to play the game was shorter than I expected, especially considering that people who played the demos were given the Dash ("The Incredibles") character piece, which will sell for $13.

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The Disney Infinity booth had four gaming stations set up -- two for playset-only mode and two for Toy Box mode. We asked to play the Toy Box version each of the three times we stood in line because that is the key difference between Disney Infinity and Skylanders. The Toy Box allows players to mix Disney and Pixar characters and environments, each creating their own unique games that they can share with their friends. Play-set mode, by comparison, puts the game characters in their own self-contained world that is appropriate only to their movie or TV show franchise.

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Jared Bald, senior designer for Toy Box, was among the staff at Downtown Disney showing visitors how to play the game. He said the developers he has worked with for the last two years compare the Toy Box in the game to a physical toy box, albeit one that holds many more of toys, but the fascination by young players is the same. "Give kids hundreds of toys on a living room floor and they will play for hours," he said. "There is no end to what they can do with Disney Infinity."

It took my son, who is an avid gamer, a few minutes to get acclimated to the game, but once he did, he was excited about the Toy Box option. He especially wanted to race his sister's characters in vehicles or on mounts. Could his Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster beat her Cinderella Coach?

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Disney Infinity concept artist Ben Simonsen

Ben Simonsen, a concept artist on Disney Infinity, said that designing the vehicles was, in fact, one of his favorite aspects of working on the Disney Interactive project. He said that my son's interest was indicative of what they had seen by other players at the demonstration: Kids seemed to be more focused on interacting with other players than progressing through a goal-oriented game. And Disney Infinity allows for that, to be sure.

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My 8-year-old daughter had one question, though, when encountering anyone affiliated with Disney Infinity: Will there be any Disney Princess characters? So far, none have been announced, but the coach vehicle and Cinderella Castle are available, as well as an environment from "Tangled" with Rapunzel, in the Toy Box. Although no one officially could confirm that any of the royal beauties will join the gaming system, it was suggested that they would be a logical progression, given their strong market brand.

Disney Infinity will have another booth with demo stations on Aug. 16 near Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace. A Disney World cast member said that she hopes the game will be available for purchase at that time, and she expects developers to be there to answer questions and sign copies.

To read my previous articles about Disney Infinity, please click here and here.

Disney Infinity at E3


June 11, 2013

Disney Infinity debuts at E3 today and possibly at Downtown Disney later this month

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With only two months until the scheduled launch of Disney Infinity, the highly anticipated gaming system that is expected to give Activision's Skylanders a run for its money, the marketing is ramping up. Participants at the three-day E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles that begins today will be among the first to play. It had been previously announced that the gaming platform would be available to guests at Orlando's Downtown Disney last week, but that didn't happen.

Disney Infinity allows players to place physical versions of their favorite Disney characters onto an Infinity Base and seemingly transport them into the virtual worlds of Monsters University, the Incredibles, Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Lone Ranger. What sets Disney Infinity apart from Skylanders -- and other Disney Interactive games -- though, is its Toy Box feature, which allows users to mix various Disney and Pixar stories and characters.

Disney describes the Toy Box concept this way: "Unlock virtual toys from each play set - characters, buildings, weapons, gadgets and more - and bring them into the Toy Box where you can mix them all up to create your own game. In the Toy Box, there are no rules and you can create any adventure you want."

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Disney Interactive will be offering E3 participants the opportunity to try all of the announced play sets and the Toy Box mode at its 18 demonstration stations. In fact, when they approach the booth, those same attendees will feel as if they have stepped onto a life-size version of the Infinity base that lights up.

"If you look around from the base, you will catch glimpses of iconic Disney characters and environments, re-imagined as toys using our unique Infinity art style. You will see new characters like Wreck It Ralph and Tonto mixing it up with old favorites like Bullseye from Toy Story and Stitch," according to the press release.

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Executive Producer of Disney Infinity John Vignocchi

There also will be a photo op that features a Toy Box-like fusion of Cinderella's Coach and a monster truck in front of the famed princess's castle.

Among the Disney merchandise that fans are sure to stand in long lines to get their hands on: custom T-shirts, shirt sleeves or hoodies made from 10 combinations exclusively at the booth and pre-release Infinity character toys that will be distributed through a vending machine.

Like Skylanders, Disney Infinity will be available for a variety of console gaming systems, including Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii-U, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Disney's version also will be compatible with PC computers and mobile devices later in the year. One or two players can tackle the structured adventures, and "Toy Box" mode allows up to four players in the game.

Starter packs, which include the video game, Infinity Base, three play sets, three characters, one Infinity Power Disc and web codes, go on sale August 18 for about $75. Additional play sets are priced about $30 to $35.

Through June 23, Nintendo is hosting a booth outside Once Upon a Toy Store at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World as part of its Wii U Tour. Guests can stop by and try at no charge a variety of Wii U games, including Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, LEGO City Undercover and Need for Speed Most Wanted U. Disney Infinity was expected to be available, as well. Perhaps after the marketing splash at E3, it will be. We'll keep you posted; expect a review if it becomes available.

January 19, 2013

Disney Infinity marries Skylanders-style video game with beloved Disney characters

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This week, Disney Interactive Studios officially announced it will jump on the Skylanders craze with its own version of the interactive video games called Disney Infinity. Judging by the popularity of the Skylanders franchise and the Disney brand, gamers probably are going to have a difficult time waiting until the June release date.

For those unfamiliar with the original 2011 game Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure and its 2012 sequel Skylanders Giants, the popular video games allow players to collect plastic characters that are able to be incorporated into interactive video games when they are placed on an electronic base. The physical characters bring different attributes to the video games and also are collectibles.

I had, of course, heard of Skylanders when they debuted, but my 10-year-old son did not become really interested in them until late last year, when Skylanders Giants were the top items on his Christmas list. Now that I've seen them up close, it's easy to understand why Skylanders are so much fun. Given the overwhelming popularity of Disney and Pixar characters, I certainly would expect the same level of popularity for Disney Infinity, if not much more.

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Disney Infinity will be played much the same way as Skylanders is with a console gaming system, physical characters and the Disney Infinity Base. There will be 17 initial characters, including Captain Jack Sparrow from Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean," Sully from Disney-Pixar's "Monsters University" (the 2013 prequel to "Monsters, Inc.") and Mr. Incredible from Disney-Pixar's "The Incredibles." In addition, customers can purchase three play set pieces and 20 power discs (which can further change the play environment or a character's performance in that environment). The starter pack is priced at $74.99, and individual Disney Infinity figures will be $12.99.

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A unique aspect of Disney Infinity is the virtual toy box, where players can save the characters, vehicles, upgrades and gadgets they collect in their adventures. The toy box can be accessed at any time in the game to create one-of-a-kind experiences, even mixing items from the different movie franchises.

Like Skylanders, Disney Infinity will be available for a variety of console gaming systems, including Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii-U, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Disney's version also will be compatible with PC computers and mobile devices later in the year. One or two players can tackle the structured adventures, and "Toy Box" mode allows up to four players in the game.

The strength of Disney Infinity appears to be in its ability to allow players to create their own stories and solutions to obstacles. This open-ended style of play also is the focus of recent Disney Interactive products, Disney Epic Mickey 2: Power of Two and Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, which were released in November 2012.

RELATED LINKS:

** Epic Mickey Games

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About Disney Infinity

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Disney Infinity category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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