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Exploring WDW's DisneyQuest

Exploring WDW's DisneyQuest

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Pam H. writes in toask:

Can you please tell me if DisneyQuest is still open in Chicago? The site tells everything about it, but a different site said it was closed. I would appreciate knowing, so we don't waste a trip if it is closed.

Thank you!
.

I'm afraid I have some bad news, Pam. The Chicago branch of the DisneyQuest indoor theme park chain actually closed its door back on September 4, 2001.


Copyright 1999, Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Once envisioned "the next big thing" for the Walt Disney Company (With the Mouse's PR staff confidently announcing plans to build 20-30 DQs worldwide), Disney only managed to get two up on off the ground. Mind you, Mickey got as far as foundation work on the Philadelphia version of DisneyQuest. Only to abruptly abandon the project in April of 2000.

So today there's only the one DisneyQuest left. WDW's DQ. Which is located over in the West Side section of Downtown Disney, right next to the parking lot.

Which is a shame. Because -- to be honest -- there's a lot to like about DisneyQuest. And maybe if Mickey had just stuck by this LBE (Location Based Entertainment), this franchise's once promising future might have been a whole lot brighter.

Wanna take a look at WDW's DQ? Okay. Let me give me the basics first: The Walt Disney World version of DisneyQuest is housed inside of a five-story building. You enter DQ by climbing on board the Cybrolator, a seemingly out-of-control elevator which is guided by the Genie from Disney's "Aladdin."

As you exit the elevator, you find yourself at the VenturePort. in Disney theme park parlance, this is DQ's "Hub." Depending on which direction you head, you'' encounter at least one of 19 different attractions. Which are scattered across DisneyQuest's four "Lands" : The Explore Zone, the Score Zone, the Create Zone and the Replay Zone.

Why don't we start by taking a look at the Explore Zone. Here, you can take a trip on the Virtual Jungle Cruise ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... Which puts kind of a do-it-yourself twist on this old Adventureland classic. In that you actually paddle your raft yourself in order to avoid far-too-close encounters with CG dinosaurs and comets.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Over at "Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride," You strap on a VR helmet and then seem to fly through the streets of Agrabah. As you gather up gems and attempt to find a way to free the Genie from the evil Jafar.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Back when DisneyQuest first opened in June of 1998, the Explore Zone had a "Hercules in the Underworld" attraction. Which made use of CAVE technology (I.E. A 3-D multi-screen environment that seems to put you right in the middle of the action) to create a game when DQ visitors battled Hades, Pain and Panic in order to save Zeus.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Well, as it turns out, DisneyQuest visitors were kind of underwhelmed by "Hercules in the Underworld." Which is why the Imagineers quickly rolled out another CAVE-based attraction: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Bucaneer Gold."


Copyright 1999, Disney Enterprises, Inc.

This interactive adventure allows a crew of up to four guests to climb aboard a ship-themed motion platform. Once "Bucaneer Gold" is actually underway, the players are almost surrounded by the action as they before the attraction's 270-degree, 3-D screen. After seeming to plunge down a CG waterfall, the players find themselves in an interactive version of the popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park ride. Where they must fire faux cannons at other pirate ships in order to increase their treasure haul.

If you're more of a hands-on type, you might enjoy taking a stab at "Treasures of the Incas." Where you have to drive a miniature radio-control car (Which has an on-board camera, by the way. Which at least allows you to see where you're going) through a series of obstacles that are actually located directly below you, in the Explore Zone's glass-covered floor.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Sounds like a fun place to visit already, don't you think? But wait! There's more! Places like the "Animation Academy," that will teach you to draw your favorite Disney characters ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, folks. There's still lots of DisneyQuest left to explore. As well as the story about why DQ wound up going DOA ... Which we'll get to when this story concludes on Friday.

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  • I love DQ! I'll be sad to see it leave.

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