29 December 2007

Big Fred’s playin’

I received a copy of the Magic Kingdom Game last year from a co-worker as a birthday/Christmas gift, and couldn’t have been more surprised if Walt Disney himself had walked through the door. Apparently, my love of all things Disney is as transparent as if I were wearing my heart on my sleeve. Needless to say, I ripped the game open the minute I returned home and force my wife (then fiancée) to play a round, or five, with me.
The point of the game is to make your way through the Magic Kingdom, stopping at the attractions you have cards for, using pathways or the train stations, before making it back to the exit before any of the other “guests.” Sounds like the game should have been called Magic Kingdom Commando, huh? Along the way Event Cards (like Fastpasses and Parades) and collecting Mickey and Donald’s autographs can help you, hurt your opponents, or hinder your quest. Overall, the game is good clean family fun, but I didn’t start this article to write a review of the game, I wanted to write about the oddities I found within the game. Because, the Magic Kingdom Game, is one coast-confused board game.
I know that Disneyland has been referred to as the Magic Kingdom, but it is clear from the onset that this game is set in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. The lands included are: Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland; Main Street U.S.A. is used solely as a pathway to, and from, the Entrance. So, let’s visit these fantastic lands one at a time, and see what befuddlement the ladies and gentlemen at Parker Brothers created for our token guests.


The confusion begins almost immediately. Alongside such attractions as the Jungle Cruise and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, rests a famous Treehouse. This Treehouse, however, is not of the Swiss Family persuasion. This Treehouse belongs to the vine swinging Tarzan, who’s Treehouse can be found inside of the borders of Disneyland. As if that were not confusing enough, Pirates of the Caribbean, a staple of Walt Disney World’s Adventureland, but Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, is also thrown into the mix. Talk about a True Life Adventureland!


Next stop, Frontierland. Thank goodness for some semblance of customary theme park arrangement. Here you can find both Splash Mountain and the Country Bear Jamboree, among others. While both of these may be found, or have been found, in Disneyland’s Critter Country, both are in their rightful East Coast placement here, Frontierland.


Okay, it appears that order has been restored. Liberty Square is on the map, and it even brought the Haunted Mansion with it. This nineteenth century mansion bares no pillars of the plantation found in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. Thank goodness, maybe this has all been a nightmare. I knew I stayed one too many nights over at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.


Yes, we’re in tip top form now. Peter Pan’s Flight, it’s a small world, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Winnie-the-Pooh (another Critter Country favorite in Disneyland), Sleeping Beauty Castle, Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel,… Wait, wait, wait! Back this train up, Sleeping Beauty Castle?!?! What in the wide, wide, Wide World of Sports Complex is this icon doing here? Clearly we have not returned from the Twilight Zone yet. This, to me, is the most striking contradiction, setting up a board like Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, complete with Liberty Square, and without Critter Country or New Orleans Square, but switching the iconic castles and placing Sleeping Beauty Castle squarely in the middle of the park.


Stepping back a bit, it is clear that we have returned to Florida, as the kiddie-coaster in Toontown displays the name Barnstormer, not Gadget. Let’s hurry through Tomorrowland, and then blow this popsicle stand, or cart rather.


The quagmire just gets stickier and stickier. Here we find the Walt Disney World staples of Space Mountain, Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Transit Authority (cough, WEDway Peoplemover, cough), and Carrousel of Progress. Even Buzz Lightyear can be found here, in his Space Ranger Spin incarnation, not Astro Blaster mode. But, to top of our predicament, the Magic Kingdom Game decides to take us on the raceway of Autopia, not along the curves of the Indy Speedway, and on the highway in the sky, the “Disneyland” Monorail System. To add fuel to the fire, the Disneyland Monorail System card uses an image of two monorails passing by Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort.

I think it is time to remove ourselves through the Entrance, and catch our breath.
Alright, looking back over the devastation of East Coast and West Coast ideals, I can understand what I believe the creators of this game were intending. They were trying to find a way to incorporate aspects of both parks into a single game so that they needed only one game, rather than two games, each an exact replica of their namesake park. This is a very sound idea, in theory, however, once executed, this game looks like the red-headed step child of the Disney Parks, at least within the United States, you are given the less prominent castle (for those of you who have not seen both, they are both beautiful, but Cinderella Castle stands head and shoulders above its older sibling) and the much less active land of Liberty Square, rather than the bustling New Orleans Square. I don’t know that there actually is a proper way to combine these two very distinct parks into one board, but this, most certainly, is not the way to go. As far as game play goes, I think this is a very unique approach to a board game. But, next time, let’s just pick one park and stick with it.

1 comment:

Eric Hoffman said...

Ryan, we gave our oldest girl (she's 8-1/2) this game for Christmas this year.

It definitely has an identity crisis but we had a blast playing anyway. I kept finding myself thinking "hey, don't we have an ADR coming up - do I really have time to ride Pirates"

I think someone should scale up the board about 5-10 times and really put some detail into it. Now that would be fun to play! Not sure where I would store the game board though.