Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Celebrating 15 Years of ‘The Ultimate Interactive Adventure’ in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 21st, 2013 by Darcy Clark, Marketing Manager, Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort


I started my Disney career as part of the Walt Disney World Resort College Program in the fall of 1997. In those days, my roommates and I spent a lot of time at Downtown Disney, mostly at Pleasure Island. I remember hearing about something new coming to the West Side – a giant five-story building filled with virtual reality games, arcade classics and cool interactive experiences you couldn’t find anywhere else.

It seems like just yesterday, but in a few short weeks, we celebrate 15 years of DisneyQuest. (Wow, does that make me feel old!) I’ll admit, when I joined the Downtown Disney team three months ago, I hadn’t been to DisneyQuest in while. (Like, years.) I’m happy to report, I had a blast. I had the most fun playing Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold. I’m competitive by nature, so luckily, I scored the most points! And I loved CyberSpace Mountain and the classic arcade games I remembered from my youth.

While some of the games have been there since opening, new experiences have been added over the years, and many have been updated with higher-resolution screens and graphics. Check out virtual Jungle Cruise and Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam to see for yourself!

Something else that’s been there since the start? Two special cast members, Jessica and Jackie, who’ve been part of the DisneyQuest team since day one.

Jackie, a 43-year Disney cast member this September, opened Walt Disney World Resort (She remembers seeing Walt from afar during construction and met Roy on Opening Day; can you imagine?) and she’s been at Downtown Disney since 1983. She says DisneyQuest is “like one big happy family in the ‘big blue box.’” She loves her role as a QuestKeeper and plans to stay on until retirement.

Jessica, an Attractions Coordinator who was nearly nine months pregnant when DisneyQuest opened, echoes the sentiment, saying, “I don’t have any plans of leaving; I like it here. It’s my home.” Her daughter, the first “DisneyQuest baby,” is now 14 years old. No surprise here, she loves the indoor interactive playground where her mom has worked for a decade and a half.

Though the lobby hasn’t changed much over the years, the fashions certainly have! Red denim overalls (as seen in the archived Marketing shot below) may have been all the rage in the late ’90s, but today it takes a special person to pull off that look. Luckily, a great smile never goes out of style – and after 15 years, I’m so happy to see that it’s still the accessory of choice for Jessica, Jackie and their fellow DisneyQuest cast members.

An Archived Marketing Shot of the Lobby of DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney Cast Members Jessica and Jackie in the Lobby of DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney

Have you visited DisneyQuest during its 15-year history? If so, what did you enjoy most? (I’m sure there are a few fellow “Pirate” lovers out there!)

Read on for more from Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort:

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18 Comments 8 Replies

1

Eddie on May 21st, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I love DisneyQuest! I remember they were supposed to build one in Philadelphia but the plans fell through. My favorite attraction in the whole place is the Buzz Lightyear bumper cars that have the cannons on the front. I have a blast every time I have been there.

2

Richard from CA on May 21st, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Is there any talk about getting the magic elevators working again? Those were such a magical way to enter the building!

3

Eric from MA on May 21st, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I always used to arrive on my trips too late in the evening to hit the parks, so a night at Downtown Disney, Virtual Pirates and Aladdin was always the first go-to event on my list.
Sadly, don’t know what’s going to happen to DisneyQuest now that 90′s video arcades in general seem to be going the way of Pac-Man (coin machines can’t compete with Playstation)–Love to see DQ reinvent itself with an all-new style of big-scale interactive experiences, or maybe even a touch of Wreck-It Ralph. :) )

 

Darcy Clark on May 21st, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Eric, a night at DisneyQuest sounds like the perfect way to kick off a Disney vacation! I’m not sure when you visited last, but they do have the “Fix It Felix” arcade games and a giant statue of Ralph from “Wreck It Ralph” – it makes for a great photo op!

4

William on May 21st, 2013 at 4:48 pm

DisneyQuest was one of the most surprising things from my trip to Disney World. I didn’t expect that much, just thought we would check it out. The Pirates of the Caribbean game was amazingly fun! One of the best interactive experiences I’ve ever seen.

 

Darcy Clark on May 21st, 2013 at 5:21 pm

William, can I tell you a secret? I didn’t expect that much either! I was very surprised, in the best possible way, at how much fun I had. Glad you had the same experience! (And see? I KNEW there was a fellow “Pirates” lover out there!)

5

Matthew on May 21st, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Ah, the only place in all of Walt Disney World to meet up with TRON, albeit in arcade cabinet form.

6

David from CA on May 21st, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Darcy,

Great article on Disney Quest. On thing, I think you have a typo regarding the age of the Cast Member Jackie. I am 43 and was born in 1970, 5 years after Walt Passed. That would make Jackie 1 year old on opening day.

 

Darcy Clark on May 21st, 2013 at 5:43 pm

David, thanks for the comment and sorry for any confusion! When I say Jackie is “a 43-year Disney cast member this September” I mean she’ll have been working for the company for 43 years this fall. (Amazing, right?) I’m glad you asked – I bet other readers had the same thought!

7

Mallory on May 21st, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I was 9 years old when this opened and went right when it first opened! Loved every minute of it- especially Pirates!

Haven’t visited in a while but maybe next trip we will make back into DisneyQuest!

8

Matthew on May 21st, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Here’s a question- will DisneyQuest (or any of the parks) be doing anything special to commemorate the release of the DuckTales Remastered video game due out this summer?

9

Kit on May 22nd, 2013 at 8:17 am

Awww, we love going to DisneyQuest, it’s got a great vibe to it and wandering through the arcades makes me feel like a kid amongst old familiar friends again. Love the various games, Pirates, Magic Carpet ride, the river raft etc, and just watching people having a great time.

I do miss the fun little Genie intro-movie in the Cybro-lators though, so sad it was gone on our last visit.

 

Darcy Clark on May 22nd, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Kit, you and me both! And yes, that feel of being a ‘kid’ again is definitely found on all five floors of DisneyQuest!

10

tasha on May 22nd, 2013 at 2:13 pm

We have always loved DQ! I have fond memories of riding the virtual space mountain with my husband on our honeymoon, over and over and really looking fwd to returning in Sept, just wish that Genie could have stayed in the elevator!!

11

sharon on May 22nd, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Our family Loves Disney Quest . It’s a must for any family who visits the DownTown Disney Area . Our family has found that it’s the place to be when you have been rained out at one of the Parks & on certain nights Usually after 7 or 8 PM tickets get discounted and that’s when we usually hit it ! Disney Quest usually stays open until 11PM or Later and a discounted ticket is well worth the $$$$ for 3 to 4 hours of play for the kids !Plus older kids ( over age 14 ) can stay and play without mom and dad – so at some point I always head out shopping !

 

Darcy Clark on May 22nd, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Sharon, yes – it’s a perfect way to spend a rainy day at Walt Disney World! And your idea about sneaking off for a little shopping while your older kids play? Genius! (DisneyQuest policy requires that kids who get dropped off are 14 or older.)

12

jean from NY on May 22nd, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Have only been once and it was a while ago, but my favorite was the buzz bumper cars that “sweep up” cannon balls for blasting other bumper cars…so much fun!

13

Angie from MO on May 22nd, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Actually visited DQ for the first time, since it was a part of the park hopper ticket, last month. Didn’t have a lot of time to spend, but had the free tickets from MYW ticket package, so went in. Had enough to time to try most of the big attractions, and had an absolute blast with the Pirates of the Caribbean game.

 

Darcy Clark on May 22nd, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Angie, a lot of guests discover DisneyQuest via the Water Park Fun & More Ticket Option – glad you got to try it out, too. I’m especially happy that you got to play my favorite game!

14

Jamin from FL on May 22nd, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I was one of the original cast members of DisneyQuest and know Jessica and Jackie well. Congrats to them both on their accomplishment. The years I spent there with them were some of the most memorable in my life. Can’t believe it’s been 15 years already!

15

Skip from FL on May 22nd, 2013 at 9:34 pm

1) Pirates of the Caribbean
2) Animation Academy
3) Arkenoid (the solitaire version of the original pong – ball and paddle)
4) Sea Wolf
5) Hockey (plastic dome version)
6) Trivial Pursuit (long live the credit button)

16

Mario from TX on May 23rd, 2013 at 7:54 am

I do not recall the name, but my favorite attraction at DQ is no longer there. On the bottom level there was once a “Game” where you were able to drive a Remote Controlled Truck/Jeep through a giant maze. Your controller was a steering wheel with a gas peddle and a forward/reverse switch, the most interesting part was the fact that you did not watch the vehicle while you drove it. You would actually view your path via a vehicle mounted camera that would transmit its location to a Monitor at the steering console. Meanwhile, behind you was a giant maze covered over with a glass floor where spectators (or co-drivers) could watch your vehicle travel the maze. The objective was to get your vehicle through the maze and find select “Hot Spots”. It was very challenging and fun. I know is was a tough one for CMs to maintain because the vehicles would become stuck often (due to traffic jams) but I wish this was still around. It was a very unique attraction.

17

Mario from TX on May 23rd, 2013 at 8:06 am

After a little web searching I found the name of attraction I mentioned in my last post… it was called “Treasures of the Incas”

 

Darcy Clark on May 23rd, 2013 at 10:51 am

Marlo, I remember that one! I was never very good at it, but thanks for the quick trip down memory lane!!!

18

Sarah on May 23rd, 2013 at 8:13 am

We just visited WDW for the first time and used our Water Parks and more tix to visit DQ. our boys loved it so much we went back twice more during our 10 day stay! We had fun playing Pirates together and they loved the Cyber Space Mountain – even better than The Sum of All Thrills at Epcot.

 

Darcy Clark on May 23rd, 2013 at 10:52 am

Sarah, how many loops did you do in your CyberSpace Mountain coaster? Going upside down is my favorite part!

18 Comments