The site has been sort of quiet lately as I have been out and about travelling in the warm state of Florida, then a visit to Dallas for Amusement Expo. Not to mention spending a lot of time in remodeling a new store to move my arcade over to. While abroad, I sought out any arcades to see what they offered. Due to a storage issue on my phone a couple of times (yes, I need to upgrade the SD card), I wasn’t able to snap a pic of every place that I saw but here is a rundown of what I saw while out in the Disney wilds of Orlando and later, Dallas.
For Orlando itself, this was a very nice opportunity to get outside of the International Drive area that I tend to spend my time while in the city during IAAPA. In fact, I never drove along I-Drive for the whole nine day trip. The lunar module above is from the Kennedy Space Center that is about 45 minutes East from Orlando on Space Coast. They didn’t have any simulators or 4D rides that I noticed although they did have a cool re-enactment of the Apollo 8 mission before letting you get a look at a Saturn V rocket and some other fascinating items from the Apollo missions. Anyways…
The Arcade at Universal Studios Orlando
We only visited one of the portions to Universal Studios, one that has the Harry Potter area and various of dark rides such as Transformers, Minions, Shrek, Men In Black, etc. Near the back of this region of the park was an arcade that didn’t really need a name – just Arcade gets the point across:
This one has a strong focus on prizes with several Elaut crane machines but they had some video games around as well. Mainly Raw Thrills with 2x Super Bikes, 2x Super Cars, Batman and a Jurassic Park (there were a few other games but I can’t recall which ones).
Pixel Play Arcade
Located at the Art & Animation Resort, the hotel focuses on everything about Disney animation, both old school 2D and the newer 3D stuff. Buildings are separated by theme and inside of the main facility where you check-in/out, get food, shop, etc., they had an arcade. I was surprised by the selection as they had several videmption games where the tickets were deactivated. This is something that you will currently find across all Disney sites due to legal concerns about prizes and redemption in the state.
The arcade was bright, lit by fluorescents and occasionally a colored panel. Walls were blue and I believe carpet tiles on the floor. The game selection was pretty good – among the first games you find at the entrance are a couple of pinball machines, TRON Legacy and The Avengers. Unfortunately both of them had issues, in part thanks to no one ever taking the time to give them a regular cleaning. This did provide the opportunity to use a QR code based issue reporting system that Disney has in place in their arcades – I bothered to take the time to report the various issues TRON had but I won’t know if it ever was fixed. Still, it was nice to see that system in place.
Video games were otherwise the order of the day: a single Super Alpine Racer, Mach Storm, 2x Hummer, 2x Dead Heat, 2x Super Cars, 2x NASCAR Team Racing Dlx (oddly they cut the roll bars off for the most part and put caps on the holes), a Tank!Tank!Tank (just for 2-players), After Burner Climax deluxe, Blazing Angels sitdown, Typhoon, Tippin’ Bloks, Sea Wolf: The Next Mission upright, Safari Ranger (game was frozen), Pac-Man’s Arcade Party, 3x Super Shot basketball machines and more. I could swear that I snapped a picture of this place but I’m not finding it now.
The Arcade At Disney’s Contemporary Resort
If you take the monorail from Disney’s the Magic Kingdom, the first stop is a Disney hotel that the monorail passes straight through. Right underneath the stop is an arcade. This one is darker than the one at Pixel Play but the setup is similar. They have a TRON Legacy pinball as well as a Pirates of the Caribbean. They had a few things that I only had seen at trade shows previously: one of those triple screen Fruit Ninja FX units; a pair of Namco’s Nirin. Also: After Burner Climax deluxe, Blazing Angels sit down, 2x Super Bikes 2; a non-working Pump It Up NX, a Typhoon, another 2-player only Tank!Tank!Tank!, another Safari Ranger that was frozen up and more. They also had a big selection of those penny souvenir machines, which are all over Orlando.
Starship Earth at Epcot
Inside of that futuristic sphere that is the face of the Epcot park is a technology history ride called Starship Earth. After you give that a spin, you exit into an area where Siemens has several tech ideas setup as large format arcade games. There’s a 3D wall shooting game, a driving game that uses 2 monitors in a way that Taito’s Wyvern F-9 did (one for graphics, one for a 3D-like UI overlay), a projection mapped floor game where you push a virtual puck around and a pseudo-holographic health game. The area had a strong TRON feeling to it but the only thing Tron related I saw anywhere was the T-shirt I wore. Not sure why it would hurt for them to use the property when it comes to computers & tech related rides.
Microsoft “Arcade” at Disney Hollywood & Toy Story Mania!
Close to where the renewed Star Tours and Star Wars Episode 7 themed live stage performances are held, is an odd little room with several Xbox One units setup on free play. They were all running Disney Infinity but that was it. No one was there in the middle of the day while every arcade we visited always had someone around. I was surprised that there were no Star Wars Battle Pod units to be found anywhere in any of their parks, flat or dome screen, given how hard Disney is milking the property now.
Speaking of Disney Hollywood, there is a ride in the Pixar Place area that uses various arcade light-gun shooter elements. Called Toy Story Mania!, four riders sit in a pod, 2 people on each side. You wear 3D glasses and have a mounted gun that is not operated via trigger but a rope lever. As you weave along the track, you stop at large screens where a shooting gallery with a Toy Story theme appears. Blast the targets that appear within the time limit before moving onto the next themed gallery. Out of all the interactive dark rides we played on the trip, this was the most entertaining and well done. The leaderboard at the end shows you, the rider next to you then the top scores of the day, week and even the month. For as well as I did, I was about 200k below the best score that month (which I imagine is set by one of the ride employees…I know how that works 😛 )
It is worth noting that the revamped Star Tours is pretty cool and I only learned this afterwards but apparently there are many different planets to see. The CG on this was top-quality and the movement was a little on the high side. Overall I was happy to have hopped on this one with a Fast Pass as the lines were very long to enjoy it.
Over To Texas For a Minute – Round1USA, Main Event & Pinstacks
Before I get into Disney Quest, the arcades I saw outside of Dallas in Grapevine and Plano are worth a mention. Each of these venues have been mentioned on AH here when they opened so it was nice to go and see them in person. Round1USA impresses right off the bat as any entrance you come through puts you right into the noisy arcade. They have it split between redemption and video and the game selection is new on both sides. The video side has some well-known favorites among American arcades – Cruis’n Blast, Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, Jurassic Park, 2x Star Wars Battle Pod dlx (linked), Terminator Salvation Super Deluxe and a few others. But where it really stands out is with games you otherwise only would see on a trip to Japan – 4x Gunslinger Stratos 3, 4x Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, 2x Museca, 2x Groove Coaster 3, Tekken 7, DDR A, and many more. I was with a group so wasn’t able to check out every section of the arcade but I also got to walk by an area where they had several Viewlix cabinets running NESiCAxLIVe.
For Main Event, the location we visited was currently going through a renovation but regardless the arcade was 1/4th the size of Round1USA’s. The selection includes World’s Largest Pac-Man, 2x Super Bikes 2, Aliens Armageddon, Batman and a few others. I heard that Main Event does rope courses but I didn’t see one. Most of it was redemption but I was wondering if the arcade would expand when they finish with the renovations.
Pinstacks over in Plano was fully loaded and ready to go with a rope course above the arcade that was packed wall to wall with video and videmption games. Crossy Road arcade greeted us on entry and walking around they had plenty of brand new stuff – Cruisn’t Blast, Transformers 80″, Big Buck Wild, Winter X Games Snocross, Space Invaders Frenzy.
Finally For Our Main Course – Disney Quest
Now for the primary reason of this post – my first and probably last visit to the Disney Quest facility that is located at Disney Springs. If you aren’t familiar with the area, Disney Springs is open for the public to visit – no tickets required. It’s kind of an elaborate strip mall with many high-end shops and restaurants to enjoy. The Disney Quest building is noticeable from the road access and does require an entry fee – $45 per person. Everything inside is on free play so you can have at it. My problem was that I showed up around 7:45pm so I was unable to make the most of my entry fee; especially where I paid for my son to go in as well.
It is worth noting that Disney Quest IS still scheduled to close sometime in July 2017. As such, I made this visit during the slow decline of the facility as opposed to the “glory days”. It is too bad that I missed out on the better times but you can’t always choose these sort of events in a world where decent entertainment is a limited offer luxury.
Some of the pics ended up a little blurry…so they are what they are.
$90 down and you start at the 3rd floor where they have a sort of planetarium theme to it along with a statue of Wreck-It Ralph to greet you. They also had several arcade games setup here, mainly videmption pieces like Temple Run and Pirates Hook. Like the other Disney owned arcades at the moment, all redemption has been deactivated so you just play these for that elusive top score and for fun. They also had a Pac-Man’s Arcade Party here but I cannot recall the rest of the titles in this particular welcome area.
Wandering around the floor, we came across one of the big attraction games where you sit inside of a tank and fire balls at the other tanks. No one was in line for it so we checked out the row of classic games that they had to the side. Spy Hunter, Dig Dug, Galaga, Mr. Do!, and a few others were found here along with a few kids enjoying the games. Some of these have been converted from CRT to LCD (boo, hiss, etc, etc) but the cabinets are original.
After this we found another area where you are greeted by a giant Mighty Ducks video Pinball multiplayer game. I believe that Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam handles up to 10 players and requires an attendant to operate who helps make a little show of it. I was still wanting to explore and play a game or two so didn’t stop and play it.
Directly next to this is an area with some newer arcade titles – 2x Dead Heat, 4x Tank! Tank! Tank!, 8x NASCAR (GlobalVR) and some ICE Ball alley bowlers. We played some Tank!Tank!Tank! and this is where I started to notice that the games are in pretty poor condition. Where the building is scheduled to meet its doom in July, whoever is in charge of maintaining the games seems to have given up. The force feedback was almost non-existent in the game (which happens at times) but then my unit locked up in the middle of a match. Oh well.
Moving on, we found ourselves back at the tank area with a different row of classics to play. I played some Robotron 2084 (converted to LCD and not original sticks), Moon Patrol & Gorf while my son got into some Joust & Space Invaders.
At this point we decided to head up to the 4th floor where we were immediately greeted with a pair of Fix-It Felix Jr. cabinets. The joystick on the one I tried wasn’t responding correctly so I wasn’t really able to enjoy it (you can see it is different from the one on the left) but my son had fun on the one he tried. Around the area there were more sports games by Incredible Technologies and Sega (including a Virtua Tennis), some basketball arcade machines that were getting some play and a few fighting games. We stopped at a pair of Super Alpine Racers but one of them was badly damaged where the foot controller was in pieces, hanging on by the wires. My son gave the working one a try and had fun; then we tried out a Dream Raiders which was next to it. It’s seen some action with the seats showing some wear & tear but otherwise the game seemed to work fine.
It was during this game that I got a call from the Mrs. that our 1 year old baby daughter was throwing a temper tantrum over at the Disney Store and she wouldn’t calm down…for whatever reason that kids do this, they pick a favorite parent and only want them for a time. That was my daughter throughout the whole trip. As nice as that might be to a dad’s ego, I could tell that my wife was a bit frazzled so that meant that our Quest had to be cut short. It was pretty close to 9PM anyways – I just wonder why they close the facility at that particular time when Disney Springs seems to be loaded with people for a few hours afterwards.
On our way out, I did come across an area where there were several Let’s Go Jungle environmental cabinets and a couple of other games but I didn’t have time to really check them out. I also missed the 5th floor and the rest of the 4th floor. Unfortunately where most games I played were broken in one way or another, I wouldn’t give it high marks but I doubt that anyone is expecting that when the facility has a set time to close that is only a few months away. That is a real shame – with working games I think that the price of admission would be worth it for everything that I saw packed into DQ but as it is, I’m not sure I would pay again even if I didn’t have such a limited time span to play. It’s really too bad as I can tell that this was quite the arcade to check out back during the glory days. That said, the condition of Disney’s arcades at their hotels is in a better state but they still need some work in terms of maintenance. Working games are earning games, regardless of where in the world you find them.
So there are my arcade adventures from this month. Overall, there is still quite a bit of interest in video gaming out there. You just need the right facility, the right game mix and to keep them repaired. Have fun out there!