Waiting for your next Disney vacation can be grueling. Especially when you get closer to the big day, it becomes almost impossible to focus on anything that isn’t magical and amazing and oh come on why isn’t it here yet? Utterly unbearable anticipation aside, I love the time right before a Disney vacation because it’s usually when I go back and revisit some of my favorite Disney things to remind me of the fun I’m about to have. If you’re reading this site, I’m sure this isn’t a novel concept to you. People watch classic Disney films, research any and all new additions to the parks and do countless other activities in preparation for their vacation. For me, I love to play certain video games that remind me of the Most Magical Place on Earth. For those of you that have the same passion for games, there are several that you can play that evoke the same mood and joy found within the Disney Parks. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite video games that you should try if you’re looking to get excited for your next Disney vacation.
Disney Infinity is a game that features characters from several of Disney’s most popular franchises. The twist is that the game also features physical collectible figures that players place on the “Infinity Base.” So say you have a Mr. Incredible figure. Simply place him on the Infinity Base and he appears as a playable character on your screen. If you have kids that play Skylanders, it’s a similar concept only with Disney characters. The game features playable stories from Disney films like Monsters University and Pirates of the Caribbean but there’s also a customizable Toy Box mode, which allows you to combine, create and explore worlds using pieces from not only Disney films but the Disney parks as well. If you want to have Buzz fly around Spaceship Earth in a flying elephant while the Main Street Electrical Parade goes by below, you can do that.
Also, here’s a pro tip if you want to be the best parent ever. Everyone’s seen those videos where the parents surprise their kids with a trip to Disney. They’re amazing and I personally can’t wait to have that moment when I have kids someday. So here’s what you do. If you have Disney Infinity, play with your kids and tell them you want to show them something you created in Toy Box mode. Have them play through the level with a sign at the very end that says, “We’re going to Disney World tomorrow!” You just created a life lasting memory.
Kingdom Hearts (Series)
Kingdom Hearts is a series of roleplaying games that mixes Disney characters with the incredibly popular Final Fantasy franchise. In most of the games, you play as an original character named Sora who wields a weapon called the Keyblade alongside Donald and Goofy, who are a wizard and a knight, respectively. Oh, and Mickey, who’s actually King Mickey in the games, also fights at your side from time to time with the style and speed of Yoda in the prequel films.
You traverse across multiple worlds, which are each themed after a Disney film like Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or The Lion King. What’s cool is that every time you switch worlds, you can add a character from that film to your party, and your appearance changes to fit into the environment. For example, on Pride Rock, Sora turns into a Lion, but in Atlantica Sora becomes a merman while Donald becomes an octopus and Goofy a sea turtle. Kingdom Hearts is pure Disney fan service. You don’t have to love or even be familiar with the Final Fantasy games to enjoy it, either. The attention to detail for each of the environments and the fact that all the worlds are connected into an epic, though admittedly sometimes confusing, story makes for a Disney gaming experience you won’t find anywhere else on this list. If you love Disney for its characters, I definitely suggest playing one of the several Kingdom Hearts games before your next trip. Personally, I would pick up the remake of the original for PS3, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, which you can see the trailer for above. And if you beat that, Kingdom Hearts 2 is getting a similar treatment that will also release on PS3 by the end of the year.
Epic Mickey throws our heroic Mouse into an alternate world called the Wasteland, which features a plethora of characters and attractions that have long been forgotten by Disney. Wasteland looks like Disneyland, complete with a hub area resembling Main Street but with a more worn and dilapidated steampunk overlay. The game is incredibly interesting because of how open Disney was in its development. The team behind the game was able to go deep in the Disney archives during development for research so everything you see is legitimate. What other company would create a game that’s focused on all of its scrapped ideas and forgotten characters? The game is also notable because it’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s first Disney appearance since the rights to the character moved to Universal decades ago. When the game was originally pitched to Bob Iger (before he was CEO), Disney unfortunately didn’t have the rights to Oswald and had to pass on it. However, upon becoming CEO, he reacquired the rights by pretty much trading now NBC Sunday Night Football announcer Al Michaels to NBC in return for Oswald. If you’re the kind of Disney nerd that finds that fascinating, you’ll love Epic Mickey. The game is a throwback to some of Disney’s older and even unused ideas that shows what could have been, which any longtime fan will appreciate.
Bonus Non-Disney Game Picks
“What’s that? A non-Disney game to get you in the mood to go to Disney? Blasphemy!” Not so fast, my friend. The following two games are not only fun to play but also do a great job of emulating a pair of the most classic Disney attractions. My first non-Disney pick is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Black Flag is the fourth main title in Ubisoft’s successful Assassin’s Creed series, in which you play an assassin throughout different periods in history. This time around, the assassin just also happens to be a pirate. That’s right, Black Flag perfectly emulates the Carousel of Progress in a way that… Just kidding! Seriously, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Black Flag fully immerses you into the world of a pirate. There are sword fights to be had, grog to drink, and sunken treasure to discover. I mean, the pirates even sing sea shanties for crying out loud! I can practically hear the Pirates of the Caribbean film theme in my mind whenever I play the game. Of course, the game isn’t for young kids but for all our older readers who love Pirates of the Caribbean, this is the perfect game to play before going to Disney and hopping on your favorite privateer-themed attraction.
My final game is more kid friendly and comes from what I consider the Disney of video game companies. I’m talking about Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon from Nintendo. Luigi’s Mansion is the absolutely superior sequel to the original Luigi’s Mansion for the Gamecube. In the game, Luigi explores multiple haunted mansions while trying to trap ghosts with his Poltergust 5000. Much like the Haunted Mansion, the ghosts aren’t particularly scary but they are silly. They’ll play tricks on Luigi and goof off most of the time. If you combined Ghostbusters with the Haunted Mansion, you’d get Luigi’s Mansion. It’s fun, charming, and – like Haunted Mansion – will make you feel like a kid again. The game is on the Nintendo 3DS handheld, too, so you can play it on the go en route to your favorite Disney destination.
Do you have a favorite Disney video game or game in general that you like to play before your next trip? Do you have any specific questions about the games I mentioned above? Leave a comment, and I’d be happy to talk to you about it. Otherwise, I hope I’ve made your wait for your next Disney vacation a little more magical.