What is Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom?
Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom, or VMK, is a free MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game) run by The Walt Disney Company. It is a virtual representation of the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom theme parks, and contains areas and games which are based on real park attractions.
The beta version opened publicly on May 23rd, 2005 with Main Street, Fantasyland, and Adventureland available to players. Frontierland and Tomorrowland are listed as "Coming Soon".
A VMK player begins by creating a character and selecting that character's gender and appearance (shirt, shoes, pants, hair, hat, face, and colors for skin and hair). The player also selects a "room" for his character (in which he can place furniture and posters he buys later); one room is given free, and additional rooms can be purchased later with in-game credits ("money"). Then the character is automatically given a few tradable items (mainly tee shirts), and placed in the game.
Activities a character can do in the VMK include:
* Walking around from area to area, and exploring to find what sorts of things are available. He can also visit other players' rooms.
* Chatting with other players, though the available vocabulary is limited; see below.
* Trading pins, posters, shirts, and furniture with other players. These items are only virtual, and have no "real-world" significance.
* Playing games. The games that are currently available are:
o Pirates of the Caribbean, where two teams of up to three players each try to sink the opponents ships by sailing around and firing cannons.
o Castle Fireworks, where fireworks are launched into the sky and the player must click on each one with the correct symbol to detonate it.
o The Jungle Cruise Photo Safari, where points are given for taking photos of interesting things.
o The Street Party Music Game, where a player can sequence music loops into a song for characters to dance to.
* Searching for Hidden Mickeys. Each room has at least one; some contain two, and none contain three. Take a photo of a Hidden Mickey (with a camera and film that must be purchased in-game) to earn credits and pins. The Hidden Mickeys are faint and rather difficult to see.
* Searching for hidden characters such as Shrunken Ned and Captain Blackheart. Clicking on a hidden character awards credits and pins.
A character can "wear" up to eight of his pins at a time so that other players can see them in his character profile. "Magic pins" can also be found which, when activated, create a brief visual effect.
In conversations, room descriptions, and other places where players are allowed to enter freeform text, the game uses an undisclosed list of allowed words. If a player types a word not on the list, it flashes in red to warn him that it will not be accepted; and if he tries to use it anyway, it appears to other players as "###". Some of the more notable words missing from the allowed list are all numbers, names of states, and names of major cities, presumably to protect players by preventing them from divulging their ages or locations. Rooms in the game are monitored by administrators; any attempt to outwit the safeguards and reveal personal information will result in a warning from an administrator.
If you visit Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom and create a character at a special VMK kiosk, you start off with additional credits and items, and your character profile (visible to other players) has a special "Born in the Park" icon in it. Also, you can go on "Quests" in these two theme parks; collect quest guides from the kiosk, explore the park to find answers to the questions in the guides, and bring them back to the kiosk. For correct answers you win trading cards with codes on them which give you in-game items, and for getting correct answers to all the questions in a specific area you are given a glow-in-the-dark VMK wristband. Also, the purchase of certain items (such as a gold mouse ears hat or a collectible pin) will grant another collectible card with a code to obtain the same item in the game.
The game is currently in BETA testing and only in operation between 10:00am to 1:00am EST (7:00am-10:00pm PST).