Hello, friends! I’m so glad you’re here for another Best Week Ever. 🙂 This week we’ll be saying goodbye to DisneyQuest and saying hello to a pretty fantastic meal at Chef Mickey’s. So let’s get started by walking into DisneyQuest for the last time. I’m sure everyone is aware that DisneyQuest closed their doors on July 2, 2017, but we visited just a few days prior so you wouldn’t miss out. Just inside the front door you would get a glimpse of what this place was like in its heyday. Looking up was this beautiful roof held up by busts of characters.
Looking down you’d see this amazing floor mural advertising the different areas of DisneyQuest. If you can believe it, this is what you would see before even scanning your ticket for admission. Just ahead is where you would scan tickets and take an elevator upstairs. Many years ago the elevators would play a surprise welcome message from Genie on a video wall, but that hadn’t worked for quite a while. It was one of many things that wasn’t replaced over the years when it stopped working.
We’re about to hop onto the elevators and visit DisneyQuest. You don’t want to miss that! Click to read more.
The elevators would take you to the third floor and deliver you under this crazy contraption. It was quite a centerpiece that could be seen from various floors at all angles. When combined with dreamy music it gave you the feeling you’d really stepped into somewhere special. Even years after DisneyQuest should have been closed, I always felt a little twinge of hope that things would get better when I saw this. It was such a stunning way to start each visit.
But if you missed Genie, no need to worry. He was down on the second floor at Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride. I know some of my photos are dark this week, but I kept them that way on purpose. DisneyQuest was always dimly lit and it added to the mood. I thought it was only fitting to keep the photos true to the experience.
Stepping past Genie, these were the ride vehicles where you’d ride Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride. I hadn’t ridden this in many years because the technology didn’t age well. You would straddle the bikes and put on the enormous virtual reality headsets. Then you’d set out to fly your own magic carpet. It sounds great, but it even made me feel disoriented and simulators never bother me! The graphics desperately needed updating to make it palatable. You’ll notice this is a trend across all of DisneyQuest.
Looking down at the bottom level you could experience the Virtual Jungle Cruise. In this photo you can see exactly what you’d be doing. Your party would crawl into a boat and paddle along a river full of surprises. The movement of your oars would direct the boat along your adventure. The inflatable pad below the boat would bounce along making it all feel more realistic. Honestly, this one was still fun until the end. (At least for me, maybe it was nostalgia talking.)
Also on the bottom floor was Pirates of the Caribbean. Here teams would load into rooms that looked like a small boat with cannons mounted to the sides. Then screens would come alive all around the boat and it was your job to defend your ship as rival pirate ships appeared all around you. This ride and Virtual Jungle Cruise always seemed to have the longest waits in DisneyQuest. At one point this level also had remote-controlled jeeps that ran under the floor, but this was another attraction lost to time. The floor space was used to hold generic arcade games until closing.
Back on the second floor, the other half of this space was the Create Zone. Sadly, this was one of the areas that aged the worst in all of DisneyQuest. Here you could find Living Easels that allowed you to paint and color on a virtual screen! There was also a Radio Disney SongMaker where you could enjoy mixing your own song. If you can believe it I can remember when these things were really enjoyable and new. But, I also remember a time before iPads. 😉 There was also the large Pinocchio below near a sitting area. I never quite understood why.
The Create Zone also housed Sid’s Create-a-Toy. There you could put together your own Frankenstein’s monster from Sid’s broken toys on screens. Many years ago you could also buy bags of parts and create your own real toys to take home. I always kicked myself for not buying them way back when.
DisneyQuest was also home to the last Animation Academy on the East Coast. I never cared for this one because you would draw on virtual screens. Not pictured, but also on this level, was CyberSpace Mountain. Here you would design a roller coaster and then ride your own creation in a simulator. The ride vehicles were pretty small and seated two people; my husband would always call them tuna cans!
The fourth and fifth floor held the defunct attraction Ride the Comix, pictured below. This was another virtual reality experience that closed a few years ago with no replacement. On the fifth floor was Invasion: An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Here several people were strapped into seats back to back and you’d fight off an alien invasion on screens that surrounded you. It was a great idea that tied to the now extinct attraction in Magic Kingdom, but again the graphics were distractingly bad! The rest of the fourth and fifth floors were full of classic, sports, and kid’s arcade games.
Back on the third floor you’d find more arcade games, mostly racing. There was a neat area called The Underground Arcade that was themed to look like you were walking through tunnels. You could also try your luck at pinball at Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam. Here you’d hop onto a disc on the floor and virtually control your pinball on a two-story screen. None of my photos did it justice, it was quite a centerpiece!
Last, but certainly not least, was the Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters on the third floor. This was another centerpiece that was visible from the two levels above. These were crazy bumper cars where two people could ride together. The idea was to drive over rubber balls on the floor and launch them towards the other drivers. I know there’s no chance, but I keep hoping these will reappear in Toy Story Land.
And here’s the cool view above Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters. It was so cool to drive around through this dark and dreamy environment while launching rubber balls at other cars. I almost felt like this ride alone was worth the cost of admission towards the end when annual passholders could go in for $20. Did you ever ride this one? What did you think?
Up on the fourth and fifth floor was also FoodQuest. I loved the Alice in Wonderland theme of this area and on my last visit this was the only section that got me a little teary eyed. Fifteen years ago when wireless wasn’t everywhere and nobody had smart phones you could send emails from here at little workstations on the tables. The food back then was from Cheesecake Factory and, if you can believe it, we used to pop in to enjoy the menu! The food quality went down terribly over the years, but the space was still so pretty. I have my fingers crossed the theme from here gets used someone else in Walt Disney World.
And that’s it, one last walk through of DisneyQuest. Did I cover your favorite? Were you ever able to visit? What were your favorite memories? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Moving on to something completely different, we decided to visit Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort this week. Now, I will say right from the start I was ready to slam this place. I couldn’t imagine that we’d enjoy the food or the experience, but I was very wrong. We arrived to the podium about 20 minutes early and were immediately seated.
Our server explained the buffet to us and a character greeter asked us not to leave the table until some special guests came by to welcome us. Within just a few minutes our drinks arrived and Chef Mickey himself stopped by!
Just a few minutes after Mickey left, Pluto appeared and we had a minute to take photos with him. The characters were super engaged and did a really nice job handling our adults-only table. As Pluto left our server let us know there would be a break and we could enjoy our dinner.
The buffet didn’t have a ton of options, but everything looked fresh and tasty. There were two large buffets with identical options and despite the restaurant being full, we never had to wait in line to help our plates. You can view the menu options here.
Another bonus, they have the kids plates out where anyone can grab one! These separated plates are a godsend for folks that can’t stand their food touching (like me). Our server encouraged us to go back a few more times for more food, but our tummies couldn’t take it. The service and food was so good. I really wasn’t expecting that from a character buffet!
Just as we were debating a trip for dessert, Minnie came flying through the door. I loved our seat. At first I wasn’t impressed that we were set right by an entrance, but it ended up giving me the perfect photo spot!
Very soon after, Donald stopped by and took a few extra minutes to play. He was so confused that I just wanted a photo of him! But once he got the idea he did a dozen poses.
Goofy was tapping his foot waiting for Donald to move along. He leapt into the doorway and was ready for his closeup! Just after Goofy a character greeter stopped by to confirm we had met all the characters. It was all very organized and well timed. We hadn’t done a character meal in ages, but it all worked much better than I remembered. While the dining room was still a bit chaotic, I’m impressed they’re able to provide such a pleasant experience.
Dessert was dozens of tiny desserts to choose from, ice cream, and cookies. Below is a photo of my husband’s because it was much nicer to look at than my plate with nothing touching! (Am I the only one? Let me know in the comments). When the bill came we confirmed we would get a passholder discount, which was a nice surprise. Overall, I never expected to enjoy Chef Mickey’s so much. It’s pricey, but I think it’s worth a try if you want to meet five characters in an hour or less while enjoying a meal.
After dinner we strolled around The Contemporary looking for a spot to enjoy the July 4th fireworks. We’d seen them on higher floors in previous years and I’m always looking to find somewhere new. We settled in front of the conference center and watched the sky light up with a spectacular sunset. I could have cropped this photo in tighter to miss the streetlights, but I wanted you to see what the view is really like.
When the fireworks started someone sat next to me wearing a huge balloon hat. So I leaned out a bit to snap this photo for you guys including the lovely mouse ears of another guest enjoying the show. This was a neat place to watch the fireworks, but it wasn’t my favorite. The streetlights broke the mood a bit and the music was tough to hear. However, it was very easy to leave after the show and we felt incredibly lucky to have been there.
That’s it for this time. Thanks for joining me for another week of fun! Please let me know if you have requests next time around. Until then – I hope you’re having the best week ever.