All About Arcades at Disney World

by 15 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Many of the attractions at Walt Disney World keep the guest as a passive observer. You sit on the immutable ride and the oft-told tale of Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, or Finding Nemo unfolds before you, same as it ever was. While this passive observation is A-OK with me, there is a sizable subset of guests who want some interactivity during their Disney day. A few rides have interactivity built into their DNA, Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Mania, for example. But for guest who crave more participation, the are numerous opportunities for activity control in the many arcades on Walt Disney World property. If you want to push some buttons, here’s what you need to know:

Arcade at DHS Pizza Planet restuarant.

Where can I find arcades at Walt Disney World?

There are true arcades located in or near the lobby of all the Disney-owned hotels: All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, Art of Animation, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Caribbean Beach, Contemporary, Coronado Springs, Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Pop Century, Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, Saratoga Spring, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club (shared with Beach Club).

Additionally there are true arcades inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios (at the Pizza Planet restaurant) and at the Magic Kingdom (in the Space Mountain exit building).

 

What are the arcades like?

Honestly, they’re pretty standard arcades that you might find in any town in America. There are a combination of games like pinball, skee ball, tossing hoops, air hockey, racing games, shooting games, music and dance games, fun photography machines, and “the Claw” style prize collection games. These are virtually all off-the-shelf games that you truly could find anywhere.

What are the hours of the arcades?

Hours at the Contemporary resort arcade.

These vary slightly by location, but generally the resort arcades are open from about 8:00 a.m. until midnight. The in-park arcade mirror park hours.

Why would I come all the way to Walt Disney World to spend time in a standard arcade?

Well, some folks really like them. And there are subsets of guests who find them to be a good escape from the newness of the other stimulation in the parks. Also, the resort arcades may be a good place to keep junior occupied while mom and dad take a little rest.

Is there a charge to play the games?

Yes. The prices vary according to the game or activity. There are some games that cost as little as a quarter, while some of the photography stations could cost as much as $5.00. Most of the games cost either $.50 or $1.00 to play.

How do I pay for the games?

In the resorts, you’ll be required to purchases a stored value card to pay for your games. The stored value vending machines accept cash, credit cards, or Key to the World cards as payment. You select the amount of play value you’d like on your card and then you’re off to the races. The stored value cards can be reloaded and used multiple times.

The in-park arcade machines are coin-operated or token operated. You’ll need quarters or tokens to play. There are change machines and/or token vending machines located at these arcades.

Can the arcade cards be used anywhere on property?

You can use the stored value game cards at any of the WDW resort arcades. This means that if you’re staying at the Pop Century, but needing to kill some time at the Contemporary before dinner at Chef Mickey’s, you could use your arcade card at either location. It should be noted that the WDW arcade stored value cards are NOT the same as the Disney Cruise Line arcade cards. These are not interchangeable.

I’ve been given an arcade card as part of a package. Can I really use it?

Yep. There have been many promotions over the years in which guests were given a starter stored value arcade card as a package promotion. These cards do work, but you should consider them a gateway drug to future card purchases. If you don’t want to keep playing and paying in the arcades, don’t let your kids know that you have the card.

My child likes to win things. Can we win prizes at the Disney arcades?

Ticket redemption desk at the Art of Animation arcade.

In the parks, the only opportunity to win things at the arcades are with the machines (such as the Claw) which are specifically designed for prize acquisition.

In the many of the resorts, some of the machines dispense tickets for game play. The higher your score, the more tickets dispensed. Tickets can be traded in for prizes. Larger prizes cost more tickets.

What types of prizes are there to win?

These run the gamut from pencils and plastic party favors, costing just a few tickets, on up to large plush animals and neon signs costs several thousand tickets. The quality is not great, but I don’t think that’s the point.

What’s the noise level in the arcades?

Depending on when you visit, it can be anything from quiet to deafening. I tend to avoid the Hollywood Studios Pizza Planet restaurant near lunch time because it’s so darn loud in there.

What is DisneyQuest? Is that an arcade?

The arcade games are ones you might find anywhere.

Sort of, yes. It’s a big arcade with a big cover charge. Admission to Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest is by ticket only, but once you get inside, most of the activities are covered under your admission fee. You can expect that an older elementary to middle school aged boy would spend two to four hours at DisneyQuest. This is of course very different from a resort arcade which has no admission fee and where you can stay for just a few minutes at a time.

Are there any other interactive experiences in the parks?

In addition to the arcades, there are a few other interactive experiences in the parks. These include:

  • The Frontierland Shooting arcade at the Magic Kingdom. This is a coin-operated shoot-the-target game.
  • Innoventions at Epcot. Many opportunities for hands-on participation. One of the most popular activities is the Sum of All Thrills roller coaster simulator. Expect long lines for that one.
  • The exit areas for Epcot’s Mission Space, Spaceship Earth, and Journey to Imagination rides all have some interactive electronics.
  • The Animation pavilion at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a drawing class and some interactive electronics related to animation.
  • There are carnival games at the Animal Kingdom.
  • There are playgrounds and play fountains for physical activity.

Tell me folks, what have your experiences been in the Disney arcades? Do you love them or hate them? What about your kids? Are they a big part of your vacation or do you avoid them entirely? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Posted on August 1, 2012

15 Responses to “All About Arcades at Disney World”

  • by Heather Louise on August 1, 2012, at 9:32 pm EDT

    Due to this article, your in depth towel investigation and your more than complete ME tutorial, I am feeling more and more confident about our first trip to WDW next month. Thank you for your wonderful posts and your unique views on WDW. Please keep them coming, I can use all the help I can get!

    • Thanks for the kind words. I hope you have an amazing trip to Walt Disney World. Let us know if you have any topics that you think need some in-depth coverage.

  • My DS is not a big thrill ride fan, however he LOVES video games! Last year while kiling time before entering MK for MVMCP, we did a monorail-hotel-video arcade-tour. It was one of his favorite take home memories from that trip.

  • I remember that the Contemporary had a large arcade in the mid-1980s with a Frontierland-like shooting range and many large scale variants of standard games. I remember playing the ride on version of Hang On and the version of Space Harrier where the seat was on an arm that moved with the character. I had never seen many of those versions before or after that trip. In my mind, it was a great Disney experience – something I could never had at home.

    • Wow, cool memory. I’ve been in the Contemporary arcade fairly recently and saw none of what you’re describing. Too bad.

      • Well, 1987 was a long time ago. That arcade was way too cool. But that was during the heyday of arcades. I also remember the off-site hotel arcade on my very first trip to WDW, in the early 80s. That was the glorious moment I played Pacman for the first time …

  • We avoid the arcades! We aren’t really video game fans anyway, and with all of the other unique activities at Disney we certainly don’t want to spend time doing something we could do at home. We did try DisneyQuest once when we had the ‘water park fun & more’ tickets, but there was almost nothing for our son to do at the time (he had just turned three).

    • I first took my kids to DisneyQuest (also with some about-to-expire water park fun & more tickets) when they were in preschool and early elementary school. We left almost immediately and didn’t return for many years. Fast forward to when they were 11 and 14 and they had a GREAT time. We went back three times during one trip. It’s really not the spot for younger kids, but that don’t make that totally clear going in.

  • We don’t visit arcades during the rest of the year, and we don’t own a gaming system… but on the day during our WDW vacation when we take a break from park touring and just enjoy the hotel, the hotel arcade is a must! It’s definitely something the kids look forward to.

    Some of the arcades are better than others, however. We all agreed the Wilderness Lodge arcade is too small. Beach Club’s is pretty big, although we found it to be busier than other hotel arcades we’ve visited (probably due to being right at Stormalong Bay). We liked Riverside’s and Coronado’s.

    • Good point about the varying quality of the arcades. Some are much larger than others. The brand new Art of Animation arcade is worth checking out.

  • by Meredith McCutcheon on August 2, 2012, at 6:44 pm EDT

    We try to avoid arcades, too. However, we return to the hotel every day so DD can nap and DS can swim. By the end of the week, DS may not feel like changing into a swimsuit and hitting the pool, so we usually set aside one of these midday breaks to check out the arcade. It’s a nice change of pace for him.

  • The trip to the Contemporary Arcade after a day at the parks is not only a family tradition, but a Disney *Must Do*! Not mentioned in this post is that there are Disney Movie Pinball machines in the Arcade… I day dream almost daily about Tron Legacy. There is nothing like coming off the Monorail escalator to take a quick escape at The Game Station. Most of all, the memories of introducing my boys to Pinball at Disney,,, playing and Popping!! a Disney Pinball, is priceless. My family enjoys the games, the down time, collecting tickets, picking the funky cheap prizes.. Just another fun day at Disney.