Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Overview & Review


Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom that debuted in 2012. At the Main Street Firehouse, Merlin recruits park guests as apprentice sorcerers for the game, and sends them out to various lands in the Magic Kingdom to do battle with Disney villains, led by Hades, with special spell cards featuring heroes and other good guys from Disney animated classics.

Magic Kingdom guests receive a map unique to the game that indicates the locations of various Magic Portals for the game. Guests also receive a small deck of cards, which contains a few spell cards and a Sorcerer Key card that activates the hidden game portals throughout the Magic Kingdom. Magic Portals are somewhat hidden, so the map can be instructive to those who don’t have a lot of experience with the game. These portals are located throughout Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Fantasyland. The Magic Portals can best be spotted by the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom emblem on the ground near the portal, and a small lock on a facade near the emblem. To activate a Magic Portal, guests scan their Key card at the lock, which initiates a video sequence on the Magic Portal screen. Based upon prompts from the video, guests wave/hold their spell cards at the villains to initiate attacks on them.

After guests activate their first Magic Portal upon leaving the Main Street Firehouse, a story-driven interactive game ensues that essentially amounts to Hades and other villains wanting to steal Merlin’s crystal, and heroes (through the guest) from various Disney films helping the absent-minded Merlin protect the crystal. That is the less-than-Cliff-Notes version of the story, it’s actually quite deep and varies based upon what land guests engage in their quest. You can find more of the story here, if you’re so inclined. See more videos of the game here.

Review

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has already proven to be quite a divisive game. Some people, who haven’t even played the game, don’t like it on principle. They argue that it encroaches upon the careful theming of the Magic Kingdom, or dismiss it as another screen-based form of entertainment. Others have lauded the game, calling it brilliant or totally awesome without much additional explanation.

We don’t think it’s either totally awesome or totally terrible.

First, the positive. It’s great from a scavenger hunt perspective. It gets guests to explore some areas of the Magic Kingdom that they might have previously breezed past on their way to Splash Mountain or Peter Pan’s Flight, and we think this is a good thing.

It also has a pretty entertaining story, and incorporates a lot of seemingly forgotten (at least when it comes to the theme parks) characters into the quests. The fact that Merlin and Hades are the stars of the show is alone a testament to this. The story is enjoyable, fairly detailed, and varies enough on subsequent visits that it can be a compelling reason to play the game.

It seems like it will be a great game for kids, as they have the opportunity to fight villains and interact with some of their favorite Disney characters in an intuitive way that will likely be quite rewarding to them.

Before addressing the actual negatives, I’ll address the perceived negatives from others in the fan community. First, the noise. I didn’t think the game was overly loud, and when I wasn’t playing, I noticed it far less than I notice Kim Possible in the World Showcase (and I barely even notice that). The Magic Kingdom is pretty loud in general, and this game seems to be quite quiet by comparison. Unless you choose a spot right by a Magic Portal to watch the parade or fireworks, I doubt it will ever encroach upon your experience in the parks.

The second concern is the screen-driven nature of the game. While I’m hardly a fan of the proliferation of screen-based attractions (or components thereof) in the parks, this seems to be a trend that has no end in sight. The screens here do an effective job of telling the story, and the biggest component of the game does seem to be the story that is told through the screens. So in this case, I think they’re completely necessary for the experience. As I’ll mention below, I would like to see more in the way of three-dimensional props, though.

Now, my areas for improvement in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. The game is a bit superficial as of right now (the test and adjust phase is still ongoing, so hopefully this will be worked out). Anyone over the age of 10 will quickly realize that the game is interactive in name, only. By our second mission, both Sarah and I already felt like the interactive portion of the game was a chore. The scavenger hunt (finding the portals and unlocking them) was still fun, but there was no challenge to the “game,” and the cards we used didn’t seem to make much of a difference. From what I understand, this will be tweaked in the future to allow different difficulty settings, so hopefully that will dramatically increase my impression of the game.

Beyond that, while well-themed and fairly hidden, the Magic Portals were little more than television screens. If they’re in the sun, sometimes these portals can be difficult to unlock, too. It would be nice to have some three-dimensional interactive props a la Kim Possible, which seem much more rewarding to uncover from this guest’s perspective. Don’t get me wrong, the story on the screens was entertaining and the screens made the story in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom deeper than the story in Kim Possible, but Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom still could have used something more in the props department. Maybe that’s just me.

The other big issue is from a logistical standpoint. We tested the game a week before its official opening in February 2012, and even without any in-park advertising of the game (it wasn’t on maps) besides a small, vague sign by the Firehouse, there were crowds and 3-4 person deep lines at several of the Magic Portals. If the game is this busy unadvertised on a slow day in February, imagine how it will be after it launches officially during Spring Break. Hopefully Disney introduces a reservation-type system like the one that is used for Kim Possible.

Another logistical issue is the crowds of non-playing guests that gather around the Magic Portals for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Several guests interrupted us as we were playing to inquire about the game. We pleasantly answered them each time, but in so doing, we missed bits of the story. I see no way that Disney can address this. It’s going to be an inherent issue with the game. On the same lines, even though Disney has done a good job trying to locate the Magic Portals in mostly low traffic areas, there were a few times when other guests walked between us and the portal while we were playing. This is another thing that I don’t really think Disney can address. I only see both of these issues exacerbated during busier times of year.

My final request would be that, at some future point, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom somehow utilize the long-unused Sword in the Stone as a sort of grand finale for guests who complete the game and trigger an RFID panel on the sword. Not only would this be a rewarding way to conclude the game, but Disney could station a PhotoPass photographer there to capture memories (and revenue) of guests who just finished the game. What kid wouldn’t want a photo of them pulling the Sword from the Stone with Cinderella Castle as the backdrop?!

Overall, as it stands, the game was an amusing one time attraction for us. We will definitely give it another chance in May, though, just to see if some of these concerns have been addressed. If different difficulty settings are enabled, we most likely will play the game regularly so long as Disney institutes some means of throttling the number of guests that can play the game at a single time (I have no interest in waiting in a line of 4 or more people for every portal). The other issues I have with the game aren’t with the game itself,  but with other guests, and I’m willing to overlook those if the game is a more challenging and rewarding experience.

Even if the varying difficulty settings, which appear to be built into the game based upon an examination of the cards, are not enabled, I predict this game will be a hit for a lot of guests. This is especially true for younger guests, as I feel they will enjoy the gameplay as-is, and guests who enjoy collecting, as some fans have already made efforts to collect all  70-some cards (presumably Disney will sell add-on decks and other accessories in the future to offset the costs of the cards, making it even more of a collectible experience). I realize not every attraction at Walt Disney World will appeal to me, and since the attraction doesn’t impact my park experience in a negative way, it’s difficult for me to find much fault with it. That said, I see the potential in the game, and with just a few tweaks and changes to how the gameplay occurs and is managed, I could see this game become a huge success for guests of all ages and interests.

What do you think of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World? Are you excited to play it? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this post, please “Like” or “Share” it with your friends!

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17 Responses to “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Overview & Review”

  1. David says:

    I think it looks great. I can’t wait to try it out when I visit in August =)

  2. Brittany says:

    I played just this past Saturday and I have to say that my 5 year old had a great time! I was a little bored after the first story, but I am hopeful that Disney is going to make some changes as the game progresses!! Thanks for a great read!!!1

  3. Jeff @braindud92 says:

    Loved the depth of the review…you sound like an attorney ;)

    We loved Team Possible a great deal…but it suffered a repeatability problem. I’m sure Disney is addressing this with the card based system (not to mention, the kids are really into that thing). I wonder if Disney is taking note of the hot Spyroland game…they have a “portal” also with action figures you buy to play as (we love it). Come to think of it…that might be the next logical step…now that is a collectible I could wrap my arms around,

  4. Christy says:

    We were also able to pick up a set of cards/register a new player at a location in Liberty Square. We forgot to get our “new set” of cards when we entered MK, so we just picked some up when we got back to Liberty Square.

    My 6 year old daughter enjoyed it in its current version. Personally, I thought it was a bit juvenile. Hopefully it will be tweaked to allow difficulty levels by the next time I go. I think that would make it more enjoyable for a broader range of guests.

    You made some great points about incorporating some physical props as they do Kim Possible. I must admit, we played both Sorcerers and Kim Possible for the first time on this trip. My daughter enjoyed Kim Possible much more than Sorcerers. The “kimmunicator” had her attention from the very beginning. The cards/portals for sorcerers took a little more coaxing to keep her entertained.

    Overall, we did enjoy the game. Nice review, and great suggestions for future implementation, Tom.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It’s sounding like the different difficulty levels have been rolled out. This should make a big change in the gameplay!

  5. Emily Martens says:

    I am bummed that Disney didn’t use a different theme as being a bible believing person I won’t play this type of game that involves sorcery which God is very clear about.

    There are so many different things they could have done.

    My thoughts. :)

  6. Andrew says:

    Call me crazy, but the last thing I’d want to do while vacationing at a Disney Park is dedicate any time to a video game (in essence, that’s all this is). I have a hard time giving any attention to my iPhone, even when I’m just standing in a 60-minute line, let alone deviate from other park activities to play this game. – In all fairness, I have not played it (nor do I intend to) but I can’t imagine why this would appeal to anyone over the age of ten.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Nah, I don’t think that’s crazy at all.

      …as long as you hold the same stance on Toy Story Mania.

      • Andrew says:

        Haha, I actually do. It sincerely KILLS me that TSM always has those crazy lines. I can see why at Tower of Terror, RnR, Splash, BTM, Space Mtn…but not TSM or Buzz Light year @ MK (which, I have never ridden and I’m a 16-year MK CM).

        Perhaps I’ve become too cynical and things have lost the “magic” for me. I absolutely hate to say it, but I think Universal has more of an edge these days. But who knows, maybe if I worked for them instead I’d be over it too. But it’s REALLY hard to compete with stuff like the attractions for Harry Potter/Spiderman/Transformers. I’m not a fan of any of those movies but the the rides themselves are unlike anything Disney has yet to create and I’m hoping that all these rumors about Star Wars or even Avatar bring something completely new to the scene. I swear, if we get a Nemo 3.0 (Mermaid at New Fantasyland being 2.0) I will lose my shhhh. *end rant* :-)

  7. Sara Swain Roberts says:

    My 11year old played in October when we were there. It was one of her favorite things of the entire trip. She has kept all the cards and can not wait to okay it again. My husband accompanied her when she was playing and his feedback was it was fun once, but it got old for him after that. Being the good Das that he is, he still played it with her the rest if the trip :) I loved the fact that it was added souvenirs for free!!!!!!

  8. Pam says:

    is it an extra cost or part of the park ticket for the day?

  9. anonymous says:

    After being an annual passholder at WDW for 18 years and many great experiences I have had one horrible experience after the next with the game and WDW’s personnel who work at the locations where the cards are given away. Last week was the final straw. I am still attempting to complete my family’s collection of the 60 cards. The 3 of us just want one set for all of us so after many times waiting in line for each of us to receive one package of cards each and receiving hundreds of cards we still haven’t managed to gets cards 16, 19 and 20. We only played the game once and hated it because we had to walk back and forth long distances to portals and we could never figure out which cards we were supposed to use (while in line last week a guest asked how long the game takes and the cast member told the guest it takes several hours). Each time we obtain cards we are required to provide our annual passes so WDW knows we have each only received one set of cards per day. Last week I stopped at the location behind the castle and after waiting in a long line I was informed I wouldn’t get cards until I walked all the way back to the train station and opened a portal. I was told only then I would get cards and of course I would be required to stand in line again. I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told one was called and would arrive shortly. I stood there for almost 15 minutes and no supervisor arrived so I left. I won’t be bothering to attempt to complete our family’s collection anymore and I left the Magic Kingdom saddened and disgusted with WDW.

  10. dawn says:

    This looks like fun if they have difficulty levels. I was just there last week and I saw people playing… They need to market it better like they are the magic bands. I was looking for something to do that was new and different and this would have been awesome.

  11. Linda Jourdan says:

    Last May we were in Magic Kingdom and we didn’t do the sorcerer one however we did participate in one that was based around Pirate/Scavenger hunting. The first few minutes the kids were enjoying it but then it got boring for them. That and the fact that they had too many families “testing” it out that the excitement wore off quickly because too many people were searching for the same thing and one right after another finding it and announcing their find, it ruined it for anyone coming in.

  12. Brad Miller says:

    I have been playing for over a year now, EVERY weekend! i love it, they recently fixed the hard level, so that every time you play a new game it’s different. i have never heard “crazy people who are obsessed with the game and try to cheat made it this way” but only that the program sends you to the less busiest portal. I highly recommend it if you or someone you know, do Not like rides, etc. or if you can go to the parks often.

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