Downtown Disney Review: DisneyQuest Interactive Indoor Theme Park & Pleasure Island Night Clubs
Downtown Disney features the best of Orlando's shopping, dining, and entertainment all in one pedestrian-friendly location along the shores of a picturesque lake. Home to popular destinations such as Planet Hollywood, Cirque du Soleil, a sprawling Virgin MegaStore, and more, Downtown Disney featured plenty of fun and entertainment for everyone. Just across from the Cirque du Soleil theater is DisneyQuest Interactive Indoor Theme Park, while the middle of the Downtown Disney area is comprised of several popular dining and nightlife venues. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite highlights from DisneyQuest & Pleasure Island.
DisneyQuest Interactive Indoor Theme Park
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold
- This was perhaps one of the most fun interactive games I've ever played in my life. For this adventure, we donned "3-D Pirate Goggles" and boarded a mock pirate ship that was surrounded on three sides by 3-D video screens. For the game, one person commandeers the ship through the ocean, along bays, and - in some cases - into rocks, while the other players use mounted cannons to fire at other ships in an effort to collect the most booty. I was totally immersed in the reality of the game, and for about 6 minutes all I could think about was blasting pirate ships out on the open waters!
Virtual Jungle Cruise
- This is interactive virtual fun at its very finest! We hopped into a river raft, grabbed real paddles, and set out on down a prehistoric river for a whitewater adventure that had some incredibly real elements. The raft knocks you around as if you are actually on water (while waiting in line, I witnessed another participant actually tumble out of her rocking raft), and your direction depends on your control of the raft with the paddles. When we soared off of a towering waterfall and landed at the bottom, water actually splashed us in the face!
Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride
- This is a true virtual reality experience that puts you directly onto a magic carpet on an adventure with Aladdin, Genie, and all the gang from Disney's hit movie. Each station features a virtual reality mask and a bike-style controller. Although the graphics weren't as impressive as those on the Pirate's of the Caribbean virtual adventure, it was fun to look side to side and see other players within your game. The game was actually pretty challenging, though ... I even got lost somewhere in the adventure!
Invasion! An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
- I'm not the world's best gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but this adventure was extremely difficult! It was fun, though, because you actually board a little miniature ship in a closed-in room to try to rescue people who have been stranded amid an alien invasion. Starting out, I drove while my friend tried to thwart off the aliens, but I got frustrated with my inability to drive the ship, so we traded spots mid-way through the game. Honestly, I wasn't much better at shooting aliens ... but it was still fun!
- A large segment of the upper floors is devoted to free-play arcades games. If you've ever dreamed of a place where you can play unlimited games without worrying about quarters, tokens, or game cards, this is the place. While there were some unique games — including virtual skateboarding, boxing, and more — I'm a huge fan of the linked racing games where you can take on opponents. (Plus, the fact that I swept the entire series of racing games against my friend Andy made my victories that much sweeter! Yes, it's true — I am the queen of video racing.)
- I very much have a love/hate relationship with the Adventurer's Club at Pleasure Island. On one hand, the concept of the improvisational comedy set in an English explorer's club has the potential to be extremely entertaining. In fact, my friend Andy and all of the other patrons of the club seemed to have a tremendous time. That having been said, though, I was actually pretty uncomfortable with the environment as it is extremely interactive. I'm not so much a fan of interaction, so I recommend that similarly shy folks steer clear of this one. However, if you're looking for a place to get loud, laugh a lot, and make some new friends, you'll probably keep coming back to the Adventurer's Club.
- This improv comedy show was hilarious, and I could have spent the entire evening going back again and again to see the show. The show itself only lasted about 30 minutes, which was the biggest disappointment. As improv comedy often dictates, the audience provides much of the material for what transpires on stage, and I was pretty impressed by the cast's ability to play off of each other so well. Although younger visitors must be in the company of an adult, this is probably the most family-friendly club at Pleasure Island.