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June 29, 2017

DisneyQuest offers deals for Florida residents, Walt Disney World passholders before it closes July 3

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As has been long announced, DisneyQuest at Disney Springs is closing. But now we are in the final week of operations with the last day on Sunday, July 2. And there are deals to be had every day except the last one.

Walt Disney World annual passholders – children and adults – pay just $19.98 admission. Florida residents pay $33.75 for adults and $29.25 for children ages 3 to 9 – a 25 percent savings. Proof of residency is required for the purchaser, but he or she can buy tickets for the same rate for up to five guests. Both types of discounted tickets must be bought at the DisneyQuest box office outside the attraction. They are not valid on July 2.

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DisneyQuest, a five-story arcade of video games and technology-driven activities, is closing to make room for the NBA Experience, which will include a restaurant and basketball-themed activities.

When the announcement of the closing was made in 2015, fans and visitors cited dated technology as the main reason they thought the gaming attraction had fared poorly in recent years. When DisneyQuest opened in 1998, the virtual technology seemed like the Tomorrowland of gaming. But with the increasing capabilities of smartphones, the facility lost some of its appeal, they said. Even classic games, such as Pac Man and Fix It Felix Jr. -- which was brought in to promote the animated movie “Wreck-It Ralph” in 2012 – didn’t capture the interest of enough vacationers to keep the facility full.

Still, in its heyday, DisneyQuest was a fun place not just for families on vacation, but for local kids and even couples on date nights. My family and I had annual passes to DisneyQuest for a few years when the kids were younger, and we really enjoyed it. We used those passes most often in the summer to escape the heat or the afternoon thunderstorms.

Among our favorite attractions were Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, a life-size virtual pinball game; Virtual Jungle Cruise, where guests sit in rubber rafts and use real paddles; and Ride the Comix, which requires players to wear virtual-reality helmets and engage in 3D battles. One section of the arcade is dedicated to children ages 2 to 7, and it features age-appropriate games and smaller versions of family favorites.

As my children got older and reached the height requirements, they became more interested in CyberSpace Mountain, which allows users to design their own roller coasters and then ride them in simulators; Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters, which are bumper cars that pick up and shoot balls at targets on other cars; and Pirates of the Caribbean -- Battle for Buccaneer Gold, which allows players to steer a pirate ship and man cannons against enemies while searching for treasure.

Plus, DisneyQuest is the last location for the Animation Academy after the one inside the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios closed two years ago. On the same floor as the Animation Academy, visitors can participate in other creative endeavors, such as making music and other art projects.

DisneyQuest houses two restaurants. FoodQuest serves pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads, burgers, hot dogs, wraps and assorted snacks. Wonderland Cafe offers various desserts, snacks, adult beverages and ice cream novelties. For a time, The Cheescake Factory ran the food concessions at DisneyQuest, but that hasn’t been the case for years.

You can see my photos of my family and I enjoying the various attractions in this gallery from when I worked at the Orlando Sentinel and when my kids were younger.





July 1, 2015

Walt Disney World's DisneyQuest to close in 2016

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Even Wreck-It Ralph couldn’t save the video games at Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest.

Disney officials announced Tuesday that DisneyQuest, its five-story arcade of video games and technology-driven activities, will close in 2016 to make room for the previously announced NBA Experience, which will include a restaurant and basketball-themed activities.

Fans and recent visitors who reacted online to the announcement cited dated technology as the main reason they thought the gaming attraction had fared poorly in recent years. When DisneyQuest opened in 1998, the virtual technology seemed like the Tomorrowland of gaming. But with the increasing capabilities of smartphones, the facility lost some of its appeal, they said. Even classic games, such as Pac Man and Fix It Felix Jr. -- which was brought in to promote the animated movie “Wreck-It Ralph” in 2012 – didn’t capture the interest of enough vacationers to keep the facility full.

Still, in its heyday, DisneyQuest was a fun place not just for families on vacation, but for local kids and even couples on date nights. My family and I had annual passes to DisneyQuest for a few years when the kids were younger, and we really enjoyed it. We used those passes most often in the summer to escape the heat or the afternoon thunderstorms.

Among our favorite attractions were Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, a life-size virtual pinball game; Virtual Jungle Cruise, where guests sit in rubber rafts and use real paddles; and Ride the Comix, which requires players to wear virtual-reality helmets and engage in 3D battles. One section of the arcade is dedicated to children ages 2 to 7, and it features age-appropriate games and smaller versions of family favorites.

As my children got older and reached the height requirements, they became more interested in CyberSpace Mountain, which allows users to design their own roller coasters and then ride them in simulators; Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters, which are bumper cars that pick up and shoot balls at targets on other cars; and Pirates of the Caribbean -- Battle for Buccaneer Gold, which allows players to steer a pirate ship and man cannons against enemies while searching for treasure.

Plus, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, there is a second location for the Animation Academy inside DisneyQuest. It will be the only remaining location after the one inside the Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios closes on July 13. On the same floor as the Animation Academy, visitors can participate in other creative endeavors, such as making music and other art projects.

DisneyQuest houses two restaurants. FoodQuest serves pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads, burgers, hot dogs, wraps and assorted snacks. Wonderland Cafe offers various desserts, snacks, adult beverages and ice cream novelties. For a time, The Cheescake Factory ran the food concessions at DisneyQuest, but that hasn’t been the case for years.

Disney officials have not announced a closing date for DisneyQuest, but they did stop selling annual passes. Guests still can buy a one-day ticket, good for unlimited use of all games and attractions, for $45 plus tax for adults and $39 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9.

You can see my photos of the various attractions in this gallery from when I worked at the Orlando Sentinel and when my kids were younger.



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December 30, 2013

Celebrate New Year's Eve 2013 with your family and Disney outside its parks

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Does the idea of celebrating New Year's Eve with your family at Walt Disney World fill you with excitement? Or is your joy coupled with a bit of trepidation because this is one of the most crowded weeks of the year at the resort? If you'd rather not face that many revelers in one place, there are other options for celebrating Disney-style in Florida.

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DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney

DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney is once again hosting a family-friendly New Year's Eve party from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission includes unlimited use of the games on all five floors, two DJ dance parties, a New Year's Eve countdown and confetti drop at midnight. Plus, Chip 'n Dale, Buzz Lightyear and Wreck-It Ralph will be on hand for meet-and-greets.

In addition, tickets to the party include a dinner of grilled chicken sandwich, grilled veggie wrap sandwich, cheesesteak sandwich or barbecue pork sandwich; chips or a side salad; fruit cup or a cupcake; and a soda or bottled water.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $55 (including tax) online or by calling 407-934-7639. Space permitting, tickets also will be sold at DisneyQuest the day of the event for $65.

The rest of Downtown Disney will be celebrating year's end, as well. Individual restaurants are hosting their own bashes, and there will be live entertainment and DJ dance parties in the common areas of the West Side, Pleasure Island and Marketplace. The new Disney food trucks will be out, and "adult beverages" can be purchased as usual. West Side and Pleasure Island will be open until 2 a.m., while the Marketplace closes at 1 a.m.

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Radio Disney's Noon Year's Eve

As in years past, Radio Disney hosts Noon Year's Eve celebrations in several U.S. cities for kids who might not stay up past their bedtimes to ring in the new year.

The closest location to Orlando will be at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo (1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Families can participates in games, arts and crafts, live entertainment, educational displays, and hear the year's top songs from the Radio Disney 1380 Road Crew. Before noon, participants will be given noisemakers, New Year's hats and juice to toast the Noon Year.

This 2013 Radio Disney celebration is included with regular zoo admission, which is $24.95 for adults, $22.95 for seniors, and $19.95 for ages 3 to 11. Ages 2 and younger are free. Call 813-935-8552.

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Celebration Town Center

The last "snowfalls" of the season in the town of Celebration, in Disney World's back yard, happen on New Year's Eve. Show flies at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m., and guests can enjoy the flurries for free. Our family looks forward to our annual tradition of dinner and then experiencing Now Snowing Nightly. There are many fabulous restaurants to choose from in Celebration.

Some holiday activities there also still will be available, such as ice skating on an outdoor rink from 4 to 10 p.m. Prices are $10 for 30 minutes, which includes skate rental. Equipment is available to help those who are less than steady on the ice. Horse and carriage rides take guests throughout the town. Wagon rides are $5 per person and carriage rides are $25 for the first two passengers and $10 for each additional guest.

Tuning in to Times Square

Of course, there's always the tradition of watching "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2014" on Disney-owned ABC. This year's broadcast from Times Square in New York features performers Pitbull, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Joel, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thicke, The Fray and more.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!



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December 28, 2012

Where to celebrate New Year's Eve with Disney and your kids

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There are plenty of options for kids to ring in 2013 with Disney this year. If your family is visiting Walt Disney World, each of the four theme parks has special events planned for New Year's Eve. (More details on AllEars.Net.) But if you'd like to celebrate outside the parks -- which presumably would be less crowded and less expensive -- with your favorite Disney characters and personalities, here are some possibilities.

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DisneyQuest at Walt Disney World

DisneyQuest, which houses five floors of video and virtual games at Downtown Disney, is again hosting a family friendly event on Dec. 31. In addition to unlimited use of the the games, there will be two DJ dance parties, meet-and-greets with Disney characters, and a New Year's Eve countdown and confetti drop at midnight.

Tickets, which include a meal and beverage, can be purchased in advance for $50 online or by calling 407-934-7639. Space permitting, tickets also will be sold at DisneyQuest the day of the event for $60.

Although I have not been to the end-of-the-year celebration, my family has had annual passes to DisneyQuest, so I can tell you how much fun it is for elementary-school-age children. In addition to the arcade-style video games, there are many games that accommodate four players, including air hockey and Pac-Man. Plus, there are opportunities to create music and art.

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Radio Disney's Noon Year's Eve

In 20 cities in the United States, including two in Florida, Radio Disney hosts Noon Year's Eve celebrations for kids who might not stay up past their bedtimes to ring in the new year.

The closest location to Orlando will be at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo (1101 West Sligh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday. The Noon Year's Eve event is free and features the best songs of the year from Radio Disney's "Top 50 of 2012," interactive entertainment hosted by the Radio Disney 1380 Road Crew, a special countdown and a juice toast.

In Miami, the Radio Disney AM 990 Road Crew joins the New Year's Eve celebration at Bayfront Park (301 N Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33132) from 6 p.m. to midnight. This is also a free party in South Florida with dancing, fireworks over Biscayne Bay and the countdown of "La Gran Naranja" (The Big Orange).

Participants at Noon Year's Eve events in Philadelphia, Boston, Phoenix and Miami can enter "The Chevrolet presents: Family Ride of a Lifetime Sweepstakes." Prizes include one 2013 Chevrolet Traverse, a trip for six to Walt Disney World, and a signed Justin Bieber guitar and concert tickets.

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Celebration Town Center

As I mentioned in another post this week, the last "snowfalls" of the season in the town of Celebration, in Disney World's back yard, happen on New Year's Eve. Show flies at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m., and in between, guests can hear DJ Tami perform. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Katty Shack will entertain crowds, and the new year will be celebrated with a fireworks show at midnight. This event is free and some of the paid holiday activities still will be available.

Of course, there's always the tradition of watching Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2013 on Disney-owned ABC. This year's broadcast from Times Square in New York features Ryan Seacrest hosting and Taylor Swift headlining the musical performances. Carly Rae Jepsen ("Call Me Maybe") and Neon Trees will perform as well.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

June 21, 2012

Finding art opportunities for kids at Disney World

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Do you have a budding young artist in your family? If so, you might be surprised to learn that there are many opportunities for your child to explore his or her creativity while you're on vacation at Walt Disney World.

In recent years, Disney World has built on the popularity of the Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Inside this attraction, guests come to understand the process of developing characters for films, including seeing an artist's studio and artwork from a current film. In the attraction's Animation Academy visitors learn to draw popular Disney characters from a qualified animator.

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Another location where guests can hone their drawing skills is at Animation Academy inside DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney. These 30-minute classes take guests through the process of drawing Mickey and his pals step-by-step. Be sure to check the posted schedule on the second floor when you arrive at the gaming attraction if there is a particular character you'd like to draw that day.

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Afterward, guests can purchase their drawings for $5 each or a package that includes the drawing and a pin for $12. There is no other charge for Animation Academy. One-day admission to DisneyQuest is $37 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9 and $43 for ages 10 and older. (For more details, be sure to check out the AllEars.net resource page)

Most recently, a similar activity has been built in the lobby of the new Art of Animation hotel. Tucked in a corner to the left of the registration desks, guests will find comfy benches and an animation station, where the instructor shows line by line on a projection screen how to bring a Disney character to life. Here, guests draw on paper, while at the Magic of Disney Animation and DisneyQuest Animation Academy, the characters are created on a screen.

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Art of Animation classes take place on the hour Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and are free to Art of Animation guests. (For more about the new Art of Animation hotel, be sure to read the AllEars.Net overview)

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If you missed the class for the character you really wanted to be able to draw on your own, the resort sells books that teach visitors how to create Mickey Mouse and his pals from scratch. New on Disney World shelves: A guide to drawing Merida and other "Brave" characters. My children have collected just about all of these books on various trips to Disney World and continue to use them at home.

In addition to taking animation classes, young artists might enjoy watching professionals at work. At Magic Kingdom, guests will find street artists waiting to draw their portraits. As with most activities at the theme park, guests are invited to watch and even ask questions. This is a good opportunity for those interested in sketching to learn what it takes to do work on the spot.

Some hotels also have "resident" artists, such as the one at Port Orleans Riverside. A painter in the lobby from 6 to 11 p.m. will create customized face and full-body images for guests. Pricing starts at $15 for a black-and-white face painting and increases to $28 for a full-color body painting.

Families who visit Disney World in the fall are in for a treat: the Festival of the Masters takes over Downtown Disney from November 9 to 11. This is open-air art show offers one-of-a-kind paintings, photographs, sculptures, jewelry and more. Animation Academy is moved outside DisneyQuest and the sidewalk art is amazing.

Plus, there are many art opportunities for kids. Last year, my son was most excited by the Epic Mickey gaming booth. Not only did he get to preview the much-anticipated game, but animators were drawing Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and giving them to guests in line. A Disney spokeswoman confirmed there will be a booth for Epic Mickey 2 at this year's Festival of the Master. Admission to the festival is free.

If you've found other art opportunities for kids at Disney World, please tell us about them in the comments.

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About DisneyQuest

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

Disney's Water Parks is the previous category.

Downtown Disney is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.