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KidScreen Retail: Disney develops new family entertainment concept

When families mull over how to spend a Sunday afternoon or where to visit on their vacations, Disney wants to win them over with a new family entertainment concept called DisneyQuest....
November 1, 1997

When families mull over how to spend a Sunday afternoon or where to visit on their vacations, Disney wants to win them over with a new family entertainment concept called DisneyQuest.

DisneyQuest is the product of Disney Regional Entertainment, the arm of The Walt Disney Company focusing on location-based entertainment for families. Different from the division’s first foray, parent-child play centers called Club Disney (see KidScreen’s May 1997 issue, page R1), DisneyQuest centers will be large sites in major destinations that offer entertainment options for families with kids of all ages.

‘Families look for things that they can do together,’ says Denise Villanueva, director of marketing and promotions at Burbank, California-based Disney Regional Entertainment. ‘That’s [what] we’re building on.’

The first DisneyQuest will open next summer in a five-storey, 100,000-square-foot site at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. A 90,000-square-foot facility will follow in 1999 in Chicago, Illinois. And Disney believes the concept is well suited to travel abroad. Over the next 10 years, it plans to unveil 20 to 30 sites in the U.S. and internationally.

DisneyQuest’s theme will be different kinds of interactivity, from motion simulation to virtual reality to immersive environments. Upon entrance at the Ventureport, guests will have the choice of touring four entertainment zones. Inside, they can climb aboard a real river raft and brave the rapids in the Virtual Jungle Cruise or design, then ride, their own roller coaster in Cyberspace Mountain. If they need a break between attractions, they can grab a snack and surf the Internet at The Wired Wonderland Cafž. DisneyQuest will also carry its own line of merchandise.

Disney’s well-known characters will be an intrinsic element of the entertainment experience. For example, Wayne Zelinski from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will host the Virtual Jungle Cruise, and Bill Nye will coach would-be engineers on the laws of physics as they create their own roller coasters.

‘A lot of the attractions and games are really group-oriented,’ says Villanueva. But DisneyQuest will also allow individual family members to plot their own course using a pay-per-attraction debit card system created by American Express. Pricing was still being finalized at press time, but Villanueva says ‘it will be in line with a typical night out of entertainment.’

A top priority for Disney Regional Entertainment will be keeping the concept fresh. In the long term, says Villanueva, each facility will be supported by ‘an aggressive reinvestment schedule’ and the company will look to develop new offerings that tie in to Disney’s properties.

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