Disneyland Adventures is a remaster of the 2011 Xbox 360 game Kinect: Disneyland Adventures. The original was a testament to the technology of the Kinect in its early days, whereas the rerelease serves as an apology for the Kinect’s very existence. This remaster looks to bury the past by adding controller support, some tweaked visuals, as well as 4K resolution for the Xbox One X and HRD support for both the Xbox One X and Xbox One S. Unfortunately, the end result is a sloppy game that suffers from frame rate drops, rendering issues, and vapid gameplay. Despite being a love letter to Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Adventures fails to capture much of the magic that the park has been producing daily for over sixty years.
I won’t lie, I want to love everything about Disneyland Adventures. The very idea of crafting a perfect recreation of Disneyland into a video game for park fans to fumble through and gawk at all the little details sounds incredible, and in a sense this game is just that. The park has been faithfully rebuilt circa 2011, and as someone who spent a week at Disneyland just this past summer, I can confidently confirm that this game looks strikingly similar to the real deal.
Everything from the window displays on Mainstream U.S.A. to the neon sign on The Star Trader in Tomorrowland does an excellent job of bringing you back to the feeling of actually being in the park. The music in each land is perhaps the single greatest part of the game. Each land is filled with faithful background music that brought my fanboy senses to the height of utter, joyous bliss. Seemingly every square inch of the park looks phenomenal in terms of being faithful to the actual park, but the facade begins to fade when it comes to the shops, restaurants, and attractions.
Shops and restaurants are almost all inaccessible. Some shops are open, but you don’t get to go in and explore. Instead, you load into a shop menu where you can purchase outfits and pins for your avatar. Of course this is a video game with goals of characters progression and real gameplay mechanics, so I can’t blame the game for needing a place to house these options, but it just felt like such a letdown that the park was so faithfully recreated, while none of the shops and restaurants received similar treatment. I can only imagine how much greater the exploration element would be if I could go through the nooks and crannies of each shop and restaurant.
What’s worse is the park attractions. All of the big E ticket attractions are soulless mini games that take too long to load, and are mostly too boring to hold one’s attention for more than a minute. Of course one of this game’s selling points is the mini games, and it isn’t supposed to be a full fledged simulator. But I think I would have been happier wandering through faithful recreations of the queues and experiencing virtual ride throughs of the attractions than actually playing most of these mini games.
The mini games were designed with full body motion controls in mind, so playing them with a traditional gamepad actually feels reductive. The mini games are rudimentary and simply no fun using a controller. Most of the games involve some form of auto movement, while the player swings the character left and right to collect coins and avoid obstacles. The attractions theme may differ from ride to ride, but the mini game are fundamentally the same. However, a notable exception to this is the “it’s a small world” mini game, that serves as a rhythm game, albeit a pedestrian one. I had a hard time getting my Kinect to work properly when I tried the game using motion controls and I honestly only wanted to use a regular controller, ultimately leaving me to feel unsatisfied with most of the mini games. If anything, the only redeemable aspect of the mini games are the fun cut scene animations that play before each one. Each attraction gets its own backstory inspired by the actual ride, the movie it’s based on, or a classic Disney cartoon, in the case of the “Matterhorn Bobsleds” game.
Some of the smaller attractions in the game, such as “Dumbo the Flying Elephant,” “Gadget’s Go Coaster,” and “Mad Tea Party” actually have ride through simulation animations, akin to games like Roller Coaster Tycoon. I loved being able to hop on these rides and see a recreation of them like I was actually back at Disneyland, but it only furthered my frustration that I couldn’t experience bigger attractions in the same way.
The park is filled with 40 iconic Disney characters that players can interact with and accept menial tasks from. You can take pictures together, get autographs, hug, dance, and high five with each character, and usually each character will send you on a string of quests to complete. The objectives are usually insultingly easy and monotonous, again, re-emphasizing that this game was initially built as a Kinect game, so the actual mechanics are pretty light. You’ll gather materials for characters, relay information to other characters, and pretty much repeat this over and over again.
Occasionally a character will reward you with an item that you can then keep in your inventory. Items include a magic wand, a camera, a megaphone, and more. Items like the camera can be useful, while most of the items are just there to allow players to interact with random objects that will release exorbitant amounts of coins for no good reason. If it was really this easy to come across money while visiting a Disney theme park, I think Disney would be out of the business by now.
Disneyland Adventures biggest issue is that it’s plagued with performance issues. The frame rate is a mess, and environments usually look bland in the distance as textures can take quite a while to load in. Sometimes, I would have to leave an area or quit the game altogether to fix the visual issues I was experiencing. To be clear, I was playing on a day one Xbox One. The game has been updated to take advantage of some of the Xbox One X’s power, so perhaps things run a little better on the X. However to me, there is no real explanation as to why a six year old game is performing so poorly on a console that was released two years later. My guess is that this remaster has been poorly optimized, which is a shame because it detracts from the game’s strongest feature, its exploration.
Overall, Disneyland Adventures fails to create a memorable and exciting experience for Disney fans. Obviously the game has been made for a wide audience, but it seems to fall short of being a great experience even for younger players. It’s easy to think that some younger players may be able to overlook the game’s issues and have fun anyway, but with such uninspired mechanics and so many technical issues, I can’t easily recommend this game. Perhaps if you are just that big of a Disney Parks fan, the $30 isn’t too bad just to get a taste of this virtual recreation of Disneyland, but its charm wanes quick.
For more on Disneyland Adventures, check out our video showing off the first 20 minutes of the game.