Exploring Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom on One More Disney Day

Emily is back with another great post, this time about the brand spankin’ new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game at Walt Disney World. Sadly, we have not been able to experience this brand new attraction first-hand. Mainly due to the fact that it wasn’t open when we visited. Regardless, that’s why we pester our friends to write things for us when they visit. Awesome! Here is Emily’s experience:

In case you haven’t heard, “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” is a trading card/role playing game come to life in the Magic Kingdom which opened to the public on February 22, 2012. The game was created by Imagineer Jonathan Ackley, who also worked on the “Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure” at Epcot and the “Midship Detective Agency” on the Disney Cruise Line.

Even after playing the game I was still quite confused by the story/characters so when I got home I did some additional research and I found the below:

 “Hades, bored with the nothingness of the Underworld, is looking for a new summer home with the Magic Kingdom park looking like an ideal spot, though Merlin stands in his way. He sends Pain and Panic to Merlin’s home to steal the Crystal of the Magic Kingdom–a powerful artifact that keeps evil forces in check at the park, but they end up awakening Merlin in the process. In a brief scuffle, the four crystal pieces are shattered and scattered to different places throughout the park. Annoyed, Hades decides to call upon a team of villains to help retrieve the four crystal shards for him, including Yzma, Jafar, Scar, Maleficent, Ursula, Ratcliffe, Dr. Facilier and Cruella de Vil.”

Source: Disney Wiki

My experience with “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” was, I hate to say it, less than impressive. When we entered the Magic Kingdom at 6:00 am on “One More Disney Day” the line to pick up your “Sorcerers’” cards reached the hub at the base of Main Street. Um. No thank you. My travel partner and I decided that we could wait until a little later in the day to join up with Merlin.

Around 12:00 noon we found ourselves in Liberty Square and thought “this would be the perfect time to pick up our cards!” The line was not too long (about 6 groups) and was, by my observation, comprised of 80% seasoned park-goers/cast members/annual pass holders and 20% people who saw a line and joined, asking “What is this?”

 When we reached the front of the line, the cast member asks us for our park tickets (presumably so they can ensure that each guest is only given one package per day) and the concept was vaguely explained to us.  We were each given a package which consisted of a key card, a map and 5 spell cards. The key card is what you use to ‘sign in’ to each “Mystic Portal”, the map outlines the locations of said “Mystic Portals” in the themed lands of the Magic Kingdom and the spell cards are, just that, spell cards, created by Merlin to battle the villains. From there, we were sent to a training portal, told to sign in using our key card and taught, by Merlin himself, how to cast a spell. Following this short tutorial, Merlin gave us our first assignment for the day. Very exciting!

Now, perhaps we weren’t paying attention (we had been up since 4:00 am, mind you) but we ended up going to the wrong “Mystic Portal” the first time. How embarrassing! For some reason we were under the impression that the assignment was to a specific land, not a specific portal so we headed to the first portal we could find in Frontierland. After watching the person in front of us cast their spells (yes, spells, plural, apparently you can cast two or more at a time!), we stepped up, signed in and were told by Mama Odie to move onto the correct portal. As you can see on the map below each portal is denoted by a specific symbol.

Once we got over our initial embarrassment, we moved onto the correct portal which was, in fact, located in Liberty Square (I told you, we got up at 4:00 am!).

Standing in line for this portal we came across some…how do I say this…INTENSE “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” game players. One gentleman (in his early twenties) had a binder FULL of cards and kept asking us if we wanted to trade. We had only been playing for about 10 minutes and didn’t quite understand what each of the cards meant so we politely declined. What if we had traded some epic super-secret-mystery card? Another gentleman in line (probably in his early thirties) had a special key card holster, strapped to his belt.  Um, okay.

When we got to the front of the line, we checked in with our key card and were told to head to another portal. Wait, what? No, we weren’t at the wrong portal (again) and no, we weren’t asked to cast a spell (which we were VERY ready to do); we were just told to head to another portal.

Alright, now this is getting kind of annoying.

So, determined to actually cast a spell, we headed to the third portal, waited in line for another 10 minutes, and used our Prince Naveen’s Frog Army card to battle Dr. Facilier.

At this point, I was kind of over it.

Now, I understand that this attraction *just* opened and that the unique “One More Disney Day” crowd was probably overly eager to try it out, but I felt like most of this ‘attraction’ was waiting in a 10 – 15 minute line to show a card to a screen.

 Regardless, later in the evening, my travel companion and I headed back to Frontierland to try out a few more portals. I have to say, some of the portals are very well themed and integrated quite well into the surrounding area (like the one shown here in Frontierland). But some of them just seem to be plopped into a random window on the side of the building with rather annoying ‘pane-ing’ across the screens, making them tough to see.

 As I have the utmost faith in Disney, I am sure that this attraction is much more complex and well-designed than my first impression leads me to believe. For instance, in an interview with Imagineer Jonathan Ackley, he explained that each portal can detect how long the line is and will modify the story to keep the lines manageable (though it didn’t seem to be doing that when we were there).

I also know that the cards are more complex than meets the eye.

According to Disney Wiki:

“Spell cards in the game are divided into nine different spell classes which include: Toy, Machine, Animal, Fairy Hero, Princess, Warrior, Monster and Mystic.  A card’s rarity is classified by the sign in the bottom left corner, right above the number out of 70. A planet means the card is common, A cresent moon means uncommon, a star is rare, a double star is double rare, and a lightning bolt means almost never seen.”

Also, the words above the values on the bottom of the spell cards are supposedly intended to denote which spells are best to use against which villain, though how you figure that out, I’m not exactly sure. And, eventually I’m sure, Disney will release the reasoning behind the values which will add even more dimension and complexity to gameplay.

However, if you are just starting out and playing on the ‘easy’ level basically – you cast a spell and defeat the villain – ta dah! In the ‘medium’ level however, the numbers and words at the bottom of the cards come into play and finally, when playing the ‘hard’ level guests are required to use the cards more strategically and, most importantly, pay attention to their timing.

Here is my issue, if you are playing on the ‘easy’ level, according to Disney, each land takes about 30 minutes to complete which means to finish the ‘easy’ level takes approximately 2 ½ hours. At this time in my life, I can really only afford one trip per year and on that trip I would rather spend my time in the Magic Kingdom doing pretty much anything other than this ‘attraction’. Having said that, if I was still a cast member and I could go every week to figure out the intricacies and collect all of the cards, it is possible that I would find this more appealing. However, I was never much of a fan of the “Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure” either, so perhaps I am just not the target audience for this sort of interactive experience.

All in all, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a surprisingly complex trading card/role playing game done with Disney flair paying special attention to annual pass holders and collectors alike. The stories and the gameplay are so multi layered and intricate that Disney hasn’t even released all of the details to the public yet. As a self-identified ‘passive park-goer’ I am interested to see how this shift towards interactivity pans out over the next few years. I think that people’s desire/need for constant stimulation means that we will continue to see more interactive queue lines, character experiences and games like “Sorcerers”.

And I suppose that is how Walt would want it because, as he said himself, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

For more detailed information and details of the game, visit Spins The World, a fantastic blog on all things Disney. They’ve decided to post their experiences in great detail and it’s fantastic!

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