Monthly Archives: January 2012

Valentine’s Day

I’m not a big celebrator of Valentine’s Day. I just think rather than reserve one day a year to celebrate your love for someone, you should do it the other 364 days a year. And take one day off – love can be exhausting!

But even though I think Valentine’s Day is silly, I think these are super cute! I saw them at Target today. The one on the right is a candy dish, and the other is a cookie jar. I don’t think my blurry picture does them justice.

They had plates and stuff with these elephants and with whales. They had cutesy messages like “I love you a ton” and “I love you this much.”

Sorcerer’s Of The Magic Kingdom

Today, Alexander and I got to participate in the soft opening of the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom (SMK). This is a new interactive scavenger hunt at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. If you’ve done the Kim Possible adventure at Epcot, it’s very similar, but also very different.

You check in at the Fire Station at Town Square adjacent to City Hall. For the soft opening, when hours are not guaranteed, they opened approximately at 10:30, and closed before 2:30. At the fire station, they give you a map and a set of cards. One card is a key that activates the “portals” throughout the park. The other five cards are “spells” that you use to fight villains. The spell cards are like pokemon or other card games with stats, but they feature characters from Disney films.

After you get your cards, you go to a training station where Merlin from the Sword and the Stone sets up the story line and shows you how to play the game. You’re then set loose in the park.

The portals are spread throughout Main Street, Adventureland, Liberty Square and Fantasyland. Today, the Main Street portals were not working, but that didn’t seem to impact the gameplay. When you get to your first portal as directed by Merlin, you activate it with the key card and a hidden screen activates with a storyline about Hades recruiting villains to get the Crystal of the Magic Kingdom, that he needs to take over.

Each adventure features one villain with five portals. To defeat them, you hold up a spell card, which causes some on screen magic. For example, if you have the Headless Horseman’s Exploding Jack-o-lantern ┬áspell card, you’ll see jack-o-lanterns explode on screen to defeat the enemy.

When you’re done playing, you get to keep the cards. The next time you play, you’ll get new spell cards. Already there was some card trading going on. There were two girls who had duplicate cards and we traded one of our cards for one of theirs duplicates. There are 70 cards in all, so it will take a lot of replaying to collect them all. I think there’s opportunity to expand this online, maybe using your computer’s webcam to use the spell cards. While the key card seems to use a passive RFID chip, the spell cards are read by cameras around the portals.

At the end of the episode, you’ll have the chance to go to another set of portals to continue playing and defeat more villains. The storyline does have a definitive end, though. After you defeat all the villains, you face Hades and Chernabog and Merlin congratulates you. You don’t get the opportunity to continue, and The End is displayed on the screen.

Getting to all of the portals took a lot of walking and a lot of backtracking. It took us about 3 hours to complete all the adventures. There was a ton of interest in the game by passersby in Fantasyland, but we were mostly ignored as we played in Adventureland and Frontierland.

I can’t help but think this game started out as a game based on the Kingdom Keepers book series by Ridley Pearson, which takes place in Disney parks, and features kids fighting Disney villains. It probably works better with its own standalone theme and story, though, so Guests don’t need to know anything about Kingdom Keeprs.

The game was fun. I enjoyed the ones in Fantasyland the best. The theming fit better than some of the others, and the portals weren’t too spread out, so it limited the back and forthing. I like the variability with the spell cards, but the effects are kind of limited since it’s all on screen. With Kim Possible at Epcot, they have more mechanical actions with their clues, utilizing buildings and props, which makes it more kinetic and immersive. But since Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is all on screens, they should be able to easily add more adventures as time goes on with new villains and storylines which may increase the playability.

Next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom, stop by the Fire Station and give it a try!