Walt Disney World and Disneyland are generally considered some of the best amusement parks in the world. While it is kind of odd to see a board game based on an amusement park, there have actually been a couple boards games created over the years about Disneyland/Disney World. While I am looking at the 2004 version of the Disney Magic Kingdom Game today, there was another Magic Kingdom game released back in 1972. Basically the premise of both games is to move around the park visiting your specified attractions before the other players. The Disney Magic Kingdom Game has enough charm to appeal to Disney fans but shares too much in common with traditional roll and move games to appeal to anyone else.
How to Play Disney Magic Kingdom Game
- Place the gameboard in the middle of the table and place the attractions on the corresponding spots on the board.
- The Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse pawns are placed on the two autograph spaces (spaces with an “A”) near the entrance.
- Remove the 2 autograph cards from the deck and place them on the corresponding spots on the gameboard.
- Shuffle the event cards and place them on the corresponding space on the gameboard.
- Separate the attraction cards by color and shuffle each set of cards separately. Each player will take one card of each color and the rest of the attraction cards are placed back into the box. Each player looks at their cards without letting the other players see them. These are the attractions that the player will have to visit during the game.
- Each player chooses a playing piece and places it on one of the entrance spaces.
- All of the player roll the white die. The player who rolls the lowest number gets to start the game.
Playing the Game
A player begins their turn by rolling one of the two dice. If a player is at a railroad station they can choose to roll the red railroad die. Otherwise players will roll the white die.
When a player rolls the white die they will be able to move their playing piece up to the number of spaces they rolled. Players don’t have to use their whole roll but they must move at least one space. While moving each space on the gameboard counts as one space. If a player ends their turn on a space occupied by another player, they will move their piece to the next space.
When a player starts their turn on a railroad space they have the option of rolling the railroad die. When rolling the railroad die there are two potential outcomes:
- If the player rolls the “RR” symbol the player can move their playing piece to any of the other railroad spaces and their turn ends.
- If the player rolls the empty symbol the player loses their turn and doesn’t get to move their piece to a new railroad space.
Instead of rolling the railroad die the player could choose to use a Railroad Pass which lets them immediately move to one of the other railroad spaces.
If a player rolls a one or two they will have to draw the top event card. This is done after the player has completed all of the other actions for their turn. If the card is a Railroad Pass or a Fast Pass the player can keep the card in their hand.
All other event cards are played immediately and the players follow the instructions on the card.
Some special rules regarding the event cards are as follows:
- If an event card says “send any player” they can send themselves or any other player. If the card says “send another player” the player cannot send themselves.
- If a card has you sending a player to any attraction in the park, valid attractions include any space that has a number (including the Main Street Parade). The railroad spaces, information center, first aid, food court and park entrance are not attractions.
- If a card has a player move someone to get Mickey’s or Donald’s autograph, they get to chose who is moved to the space and collects the autograph. They also get to choose where Mickey/Donald move to.
When a player lands on one of the attractions that match one of their attraction cards (does not have to be by exact count), they reveal the corresponding card showing the other players that they visited one of their attractions. If a player has a Fast Pass card they can also play it to take another turn.
When a player lands on a space that is occupied by the Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck figure they have the opportunity to collect their autograph. The player will take the autograph card from the corresponding character from the board or the player that currently controls it. The player who collected the autograph can then move the corresponding figure to any other autograph space (space with an “A”) on the gameboard.
The autograph cards are used to block an event card from being played. An autograph card cannot be used to block the other autograph card. When an autograph card is played it is returned to the gameboard.
End of Game
Once a player has visited all of their designated attractions, they have to make their way to the park entrance. The first player to make it to the park entrance wins the game.
My Thoughts on the Disney Magic Kingdom Game
While I would consider myself a Disney fan, I can’t say I had high expectations for the Disney Magic Kingdom Game. The game just felt like a extremely bland roll and move game despite the fact that it had the Disneyland/Disney World theme going for it. If it wasn’t clear enough from the “how to play” section, my initial thoughts were pretty accurate as the Disney Magic Kingdom Game is at its core a roll and move game. The majority of the gameplay involves rolling a die and moving around the gameboard. The goal of the game is to visit the attractions you are secretly given at the beginning of the game and get out of the park before the other players.
Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies probably already know that I am not a huge fan of roll and move games. The problem with roll and move games is that they basically rely entirely on luck. Since you mostly just move around the gameboard, if you roll well you likely will win the game. You don’t really make many decisions in roll and move games and the few decisions that you do make are usually really obvious where they don’t make a significant difference in the game.
While I am not a fan of roll and move games I have to say that I was actually a little surprised by the Disney Magic Kingdom Game. This can mostly be attributed to the Disney theme. The theme is basically just a coat of paint on a typical roll and move game and yet it works surprisingly well. For those of you who are curious The Disney Magic Kingdom Game ends up using a strange combination of Disneyland and Disney World as the game includes attractions unique to both parks. It is never going to compare to actually going to the parks but it actually does a solid job simulating the experience of walking around the parks. People who enjoy Disney and the parks are going to get a lot more out of the game than someone who could care less about the parks.
I think one of the things that really helps sell the game’s theme is the components. Probably the most notable components are the 3D attractions that you end up adding to the board. For a Parker Brothers game they actually show a surprising amount of detail. Even though they end up blocking portions of the gameboard for some players, they do a good job adding to the atmosphere. The game also includes some really nice artwork. The attraction cards include a picture and some interesting facts about the attraction. The Mickey and Donald figures are also really nice. Other than the attractions obstructing some of the spaces, the only other problem I had with the components is the playing pieces and the spaces on the board. While all of the other components are pretty nice the same cannot be said for the player pieces as they are just bland cardboard playing pieces. The designers of the board also for some reason made the spaces quite small while the playing pieces are pretty large which makes it hard to keep the playing pieces on only one space.
Being a children’s game based on the Magic Kingdom it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the game is easy to play. For the most part you are just rolling and moving. The game has a recommended age of 6+ but with a little assistance I think children even younger wouldn’t have that much trouble playing the game. I would say that unless the players get really unlucky most games should only last around 30 minutes. This is probably the right length since if the game lasted much longer it would start to drag a little. The Disney Magic Kingdom Game is probably never going to be a hit with adult audiences but I could see it working quite well for families with younger children.
While it is quite simple I will say that the Disney Magic Kingdom Game has more strategy to it than a lot of other roll and move games. The idea of each player having to visit different attractions on the gameboard adds a little strategy to the game. This type of mechanic is present in quite a few other roll and move games but it is still a welcome addition to the game. Most of the strategy in The Disney Magic Kingdom Game comes from planning your path through the park. While your path is likely going to get messed up at some point, you can improve your odds in the game if you are able to plan an efficient path through the park to all of your attractions. This is usually pretty obvious but a good plan could help save you some backtracking which could save you a few turns.
Other than planning out the best route through the park, most of your decisions are going to come from the event and autograph cards. Most of the event cards fall under one of the following categories: get an extra turn, move a couple more spaces, move a player to different part of the park, or get a railroad/fast pass card. While it is totally random which of the event cards you are going to draw, they can have a pretty big impact on the game. The cards that move you to another area of the park can either be used to move yourself closer to your next attraction or move an opponent further away from the attractions they are trying to get to. Wise decisions regarding the use of event and autograph cards can improve a player’s chances of winning the game.
With the event cards being quite powerful at times, they can also be kind of abused. If one player is in the lead the other players are likely to gang up on them. The player in the lead could get close to one of their attractions just to have another player send them to the other side of the park. If this happens enough a player could easily go from first to last. The only real protection against this are the autograph cards which let you block the action from one event card. I have no idea thematically why an autograph allows you to do this but I appreciate them. The autograph cards can help prevent the players from ganging up on the leader to some degree even though it will mostly just slow it down rather than stop it entirely.
While I despise blatant catch up mechanics that lets the players gang up on the leader, I will admit that it makes the game quite close up until the very end. In the game I played the ultimate winner won by two or three spaces as second place was at the entrance when the game ended. Third and fourth place were also just a couple spaces behind second place. I applaud that the end game is pretty close but I don’t like that the game had to rely on mechanics that let the players gang up on the leader to accomplish it.
I also can’t say I am a fan of how much the game relies on luck. The roll and move genre has always relied heavily on luck and the Disney Magic Kingdom Game is no better. Luck comes into play in many different ways. First the players that roll the best are going to have a significant advantage in the game. Since the strategy is pretty obvious, there is no way to make up the spaces on another player that rolls better than you. Your fate in the game is also decided by what attraction cards you are dealt. While everyone gets one attraction from each section of the park, if you are dealt a lot of attractions that are near one another you have a pretty big advantage in the game. Finally with how powerful the event cards can be, drawing useful event cards while avoiding negative event cards can really improve your odds in the game.
In a lot of ways I would actually say that the Disney Magic Kingdom Game is better than a lot of the pure roll and move children’s/family games. The game has a little more strategy than a lot of the games in the genre. I will admit that most of the enjoyment in the game is going to come from the theme though. If you love Disney and Disneyland/Disney World you are probably going to get more enjoyment out of the game than you would expect. People who aren’t fans of Disney though will likely get little out of the game other than a generic roll and move game.
Should You Buy the Disney Magic Kingdom Game?
At its core the Disney Magic Kingdom Game is your basic roll and move game. You roll the die in order to move around the gameboard and visit the attractions that you are given at the beginning of the game. As a roll and move game it is not surprising that the game relies on a lot of luck and there isn’t a lot of decision making. While the game doesn’t do anything highly original there is just something about it that makes it more enjoyable than most roll and move games. Most of this comes from the theme which is surprisingly well done. While it is never going to compare to actually going to the parks, the game does a pretty good job simulating the feeling of walking around the parks. There is even a little strategy as you try to figure out the best path through the park to visit all of your attractions. While the theme doesn’t make the Disney Magic Kingdom Game a good game, it does make it stand above a lot of the games in this genre.
My recommendation for the Disney Magic Kingdom Game mostly comes down to your feelings about Disney and Disneyland/Disney World. If you don’t really care for the Disney brand, the game is just going to feel like a generic roll and move game and I would recommend passing on the game. While the game is not perfect, I think families with younger children who love Disneyland/Disney World could actually get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the game. I wouldn’t pay a lot for the game but it might be worth picking up if the theme really appeals to you.