Walt Disney World Resort levels up with gaming

Disney's theme parks come to life through gaming across Play Disney Parks app.


While the Walt Disney Company has made a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, Disney fans don’t have to wait for those Disney Fortnite worlds to launch to interact with their favorite characters. The Walt Disney World Resort recently hosted a gaming event to showcase how interactive has become a staple of its parks

Through its Play Disney Parks app, Disney offers an array of games to play while waiting in line as well as several options that gamify the actual parks.

Hot on the tails of their recent hit movie, Ducktales World Showcase Adventure is an interactive scavenger hunt at EPCOT that features Scrooge McDuck, Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Launchpad and Webby in search of priceless treasure. Players hunt for clues and search world pavilions across China, Mexico, Norway, Germany, Japan, France and the United Kingdom to complete the game.

Disney World Resort visitors enjoying gameplay at the themepark
Disney World Resort event visitors enjoying the gaming experiences that have been brought to its global theme parks

This is the latest and most advanced iteration of gamifying EPCOT World Showcase, as Walt Disney Imagineers previously used flip phones and popular IP like Kim Possible and Phineas and Ferb to add an interactive layer for kids and families to unlock secrets hidden in plain site throughout the pavilions.

Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, one of the newest lands - Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge - takes the same Play Disney Parks app and turns it into a Star Wars Datapad that unlocks the moment you enter Batuu. 

If you’re a Star Wars fan, I highly recommend playing with this datapad because there are so many details that Imagineering added to this 14-acre Black Spire Outpost and there’s an almost endless array of content to explore and unlock. Plus, it’s just fun to use these mini-games and puzzles to interact with the droids, towers, ships and objects throughout the outpost.

This real-life role-playing game allows you to help the resistance or the First Order and accept missions throughout the world that involve scanning cargo, hacking droids, ships and doorway control panels, tuning and decrypting messages, and translating Aurebesh. These mini-games are all done featuring visuals from the Star Wars universe, and with each job you complete, you’ll collect digital rewards like galactic credits, ship schematics, and star maps.

The datapad also adds another layer to the land’s two amazing rides. (It’s worth noting that Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run is powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine.) Designed to offer something to do while standing in queue, guests can do some work for Hondo Ohnaka, who operates Ohnaka Transport Solutions, by rerouting misplaced cargo and preparing the Falcon ahead of its flight.

Over at Star Wars: Rise or the Resistance, you can choose to guide Finn through a First Order Star Destroyer, free his captured team members from the detention cell, reprogram droids onboard the ship, and wipe the Star Destroyer's databanks of Resistance intelligence. Or if the Dark Side is more your thing, you can infiltrate the recruit line and use their datapads to collect intelligence on Resistance movements and supplies, report intercepted transmissions, and plant tracking devices.

Once you leave Galaxy’s Edge, the app unlocks some cool features at Toy Story Land next door - an amusement park designed as Andy’s backyard. While waiting to play Toy Story Mania! - a 4D video game ride complete with ray guns high scores that spawned a Wii, PC and PlayStation 3 and iOS game back in 2009, you can play a very different type of mini-game with Playset Party. Players assemble a Toy Story Mania! Playset by completing a series of mini-games and ultimately come face-to-face with Stinky Pete in a jail cell near the end of the queue. There’s also a multiplayer Andy’s Boardgame Blast! featured at Slinky Dog Dash, which offers a digital recreation of classic family board game fun.

Disney also offers trivia games through the app connected to rides like Soarin’ at EPCOT and Peter Pan’s Flight at The Magic Kingdom, as well as interactive features across Disney’s Animal Kingdom. All of these games and features are location-based and Bluetooth beacons know how fast you’re moving through any given queue so the gameplay experience will adjust accordingly.

Players checking out a kart racer at a Disney World Resort.
Players checking out Disney Speedstorm, which will be available at Disney World Resorts.

At the Level Up event, Disney World representatives allowed games media to play Disney Dreamland Valley Cozy Esition on PlayStation 5 inside The Magic Kingdom. The life-sim  game, which just added Daisy and Donald Duck to the long list of Disney characters, allows gamers to build and customize their own village and embark on adventures. Since that game is also available on Apple Arcade, it’s another option when standing in lines at the Disney parks.

While backstage at EPCOT Test Track, media were able to play a PS5 version of Disney Speedstorm, which is introducing new Pixar drivers from Inside Out 2. This free-to-play Gameloft console and PC kart racing game features tracks and characters from a wide range of Disney IP like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Wreck-It Ralph.

And you can’t talk about Walt Disney World and gaming without mentioning TRON. With a new TRON: Ares movie filming now for an October 10, 2025 release, Disney launched TRON Lightcycle/Run in April 2023.


John Gaudiosi has spent the past 30 years covering the video game industry for top international print, online and television outlets, including The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, Fortune, and Playboy. He’s worked on both the business and consumer journalism angles over the years. He’s served as on-air gaming expert to NBC News and producer of several video game documentaries for The History Channel and Starz. John is a co-owner and contributor to Shacknews.com, which is the oldest video game site in the US.

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