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One more look at DisneyQuest

One more look at DisneyQuest

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You're kidding me. It's really been nearly five weeks since I initially started my DisneyQuest photo essay? Man, talk about doing your Jim Hill impression.

Anyway ... Picking up where we left off ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

We'd already finished poking around the Explore Zone. So let's take a look around DisneyQuest's Score Zone. This is the part of the indoor theme that celebrates our competitive spirit. On "Ride the Comix," guests can wield swords and battle super-villains while flying through a 3-D comic book world.

Over at the "Invasion! An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" attraction, DisneyQuest visitors must work as a team if they're to successfully rescue some human colonists that are being overrun by a group of menancing bug-like aliens.

And -- just in case you're wondering -- this DisneyQuest attraction was inspired by the old "Alien Encounter" sensory show that you used to find in Tomorrowland over at WDW's Magic Kingdom. This is yet another example of Disney corporate synergy that didn't quite catch on with the public.

Of all the attractions in the building, CyberSpace Mountain is probably the most cutting edge. It literally allows each rider to choose the sort of ride that they'd like to have on a simulated roller coaster. You choose where all the loops, dips and drops go. Then you get to take your personally created coaster out for a spin.

Mind you, if you prefer something that's a lot less hi-tech ... Well, you can always head over to DisneyQuest's Replay Zone. Where -- provided that you meet the height limit ...

You can climb aboard one of Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlasters. No, I'm not talking about Disneyland's new ride-thru, shoot-'em-up attraction. I'm talking about an update of that old traveling carnival favorite, the bumper cars.

Truth be told, though the Buzz-themed bumper cars do move rather slowly, "AstroBlaster" is still a somewhat challenging game. Two guests climb into each car and -- after determining who's the driver and who's the gunner -- they take off into this blacklit environment. Trying to score points on the other teams playing by firing on their vehicles with volleyball-sized foam balls.

There was all this ... Plus the Wonderland Cafe, where you could go on the Web while you dined on drinks and desserts. Or -- if you were really hungry -- you could head over to FoodQuest, which featured menu items from the Cheesecake Factory.

Yep, at one time, the Walt Disney Company once envisioned building an entire chain of DisneyQuests. With sites for 30 indoor theme parks already picked out around the globe.

But then -- in July of 2001 -- DisneyQuest ended its quest for world domination. As Randy Baumberger, the then-head of Disney Regional Entertainment said:

Although the concept has been a great creative success and exceptionally well-received by our guests, we have concluded that the expected returns on the investment required to achieve DisneyQuest's cutting edge technology standard in a stand-alone environment will not meet the company's financial requirements for this type of business.

In short, the Chicago DisneyQuest wasn't meeting its financial projections. Which is why -- rather than risk any more of the corporation's money on further expansion -- Disney just pulled the plug on the entire project.

In addition to shutting down the Chicago DisneyQuest in September of 2001, this also meant the Walt Disney Company walked away from the construction of the Philadelphia branch of this indoor theme park chain. Literally leaving a hole in the ground where DisneyQuest was supposed to go. You can read all about the history of the Disney Hole by following this link.

Anyway ... Where there was once supposed to have been a chain of indoor theme parks, now there's only the one at Downtown Disney's West Side. Where things tend to be a little quiet ... Unless -- of course -- it's a rainy day in Orlando. And people leaving Disney's outdoor theme parks eventually make their way over to WDW's indoor theme park. Where they have a little virtual fun.

It's too bad that the Disney Company abandoned this concept. I think -- with a little more time -- DisneyQuest could have grown into a pretty profitable enterprise for the corporation.
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