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Magic Castle Online allows Tokyo Disney fans to virtually visit a Disney-themed town

Magic Castle Online allows Tokyo Disney fans to virtually visit a Disney-themed town

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Japan is filled with with millions of Disney enthusiasts and they have been a buzz these past few months. Both the Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea Parks have changed the themes to their shows and parades for the seasons, some of the floats are returning favorites. The parks are exploring a unique mix of Japanese and Western-themed holidays. For example last year the park combined the Christian Easter celebration with the Asian Lunar New Year, which happened to fall on the year of the rabbit. The largest parade float featured Oswald swimming through a sea of brightly colored eggs. All of the rabbits from the Disney films and animated shorts were in costume. Including the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland," Thumper from "Bambi" and even Max Hare from "The Tortoise and the Hare." The "Disney's Easter Wonderland" parade proved to be so popular that it was brought back for a second year. The Japanese are largely secular but have been incorporating more and more Western holidays over the past 25 years.

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There is a place online where Japanese Disney fans can bring the theme park experience home and enjoy even more holidays and celebrations as well. Previously I had mentioned the Disney online game presence at the US Disney.com site. Did you know that overseas the Disney site has some unique games as well? The largest community oriented game is called Magic Castle Online. Players create accounts, name a boy or girl avatar and can explore a virtual Magic Kingdom. The Magic Castle is not a 1-to-1 copy of Tokyo Disneyland but instead a Disney-themed town complete with shops, restaurants and theaters. Like other online games players can unlock costumes and dress up their characters. Unlike those other games however, the iconic mouse ears and Donald Duck sailor uniforms are available for use. Not only that but shops in and around the castle feature costumes of other classic characters that players could earn to completely change their appearance. Players can collect and share costumes, prizes and mini-games unlocked through exploration.

Copyright Disney. All rights reserved

The Magic Castle is a persistent world, that is players can log in at any hour of the day and the community will be active. The world itself changes to reflect the seasons and even special events from the Tokyo Disney parks. Since spring introduced Easter Eggs to the Japanese those decorations are currently scattered throughout the Magic Castle. Players can walk between areas or take trains, monorails, boats or even submarines to different parts of the world. There is no word if this game will be localized to the USA but based on the popularity of the social networking games hosted on Facebook it would be a shame if a version of the Magic Castle didn't appear in the West.

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  • It reminds me of VMK (Virtual Magic Kingdom) in 2005, which I miss a lot! That was a great site, it was shocking how similar VMK looked to the real park! It was a sad day when it got closed down due to the ending of the 50th celebration,it was only temporary. But if the US came out with another online game like that, it would be fantastic! And very popular as well. A lot of VMK old timers would certainly be drawn into whatever kind of virtual Magic Kingdom game that Disney would create! Thank you for the article, Noe!

  • VMK was great until it was ruined by a few groups like the "Babies"!  I wish there was some way to bring it back where it could be played as an individual game and not a community-based game.

  • From a graphic perspective (or at least to my tastes), VMK would seem to be superior to what I see in the screen shot above, but I agree that the target audience would likely welcome something like it again in the US.

    However, I think former VMK enthusiasts would be a little wary in trusting that it would not all just "go away." The public linkage to the Disneyland 50th anniversary celebration was tenuous at best, as it was never prominently portrayed or advertised as such.  The strongest point you could make in that regard would be that the golden Mickey ears were also available to you in VMK if you'd purchased physical ears in a real park. Otherwise there was virtually no mention of the celebration, and VMK development appeared to be going full steam well into 2008 when it was suddenly announced that it would close on May 21.  

    (I've often wondered if the VMK connection to the celebration was more budgetary than promotional, and so that connection was much clearer inside Disney than on the outside.)

    All good things must come to an end, and the same will eventually be true for any new electronic venue, no matter how passionate the core audience. But I hope Magic Castle will have a long and successful run, in any and all markets to which it is introduced.

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