Epcot recently reopened a refurbished version of its initially much maligned Habit Heroes attraction at Epcot’s Innoventions East Pavilion. Originally launched about a year ago, Habit Heroes closed almost immediately due to guest and medical professional concerns about inappropriate messages about weight-related appearance.
This new Habit Heroes does not specifically mention weight, instead focusing on a triad of healthy habits: movement, hydration, and good food choices.
The revamped story line follows a series of superhero-esque guides who help you learn to fight bad influences that might negatively impact your health. These bad influences are “Scorchers” who leave you dehydrated, “Sappers” who distract you from exercise or active play, and “Blockers” which fill you up with unhealthy food choices, leaving no room for nutrition.
The first stop in your adventure is the training room, where you learn about these negative influences and “meet” some on screen guides who will assist you in learning to combat their evils. In the training room, as in all parts of the attraction, you have to move. The movement here is basically running in place, the more you move, the more a yellow on screen bar grows. You have positive reinforcement for following directions and expending energy.
After getting your mission, you move into a second room, filled with blaster canons. These are nearly identical to the “guns” on the Toy Story Mania ride, with the same string-pull action. You’re assigned to annihilate either Scorchers, Blockers, or Sappers, based on the color of your canon. There are small “pluses” to your shots. For example, guest working the blue canons get a little squirt of water when they successfully shoot a Sapper. Keep this in mind when you choose whether to stand at a blue station.
At first you work alone, shooting the enemy, then you’re asked to work with others in the room to combine your blasts to defeat bad guys. This is meant to convey the idea that working together makes it easier to keep bad habits at bay.
Frankly, I’m not sure what faux shooting monsters on a screen has to do with learning to eat more veggies, but I’m going to go with it.
In room three, you’re handed an RFID enabled card depicting one of the bad habits.
On large screens above you are cartoon Sappers, Scorchers, and Blockers that threaten to attack a city. Your job is to run around and rub your card on sensors placed under the screens timed to combat the matching colored bad influence. The action is very much rubbing your room key on the new theme park entrance gates.
Here too there is a second round of play in which you have to combine your actions with those of another guest in the room. Again, this emphasizes the need for teamwork and cooperation in fighting bad habits.
When your mission is complete, you move into a fourth room for debriefing and a small parting gift – a rubber bracelet.
In debriefing, you are also given a brochure/card with which you can continue your mission. The brochure instructs you to use a map to find a secret code word somewhere outside at Epcot. With the code word, you can sign up at a Habit Heroes kiosk next to the attraction for more information. If you elect to input your email address into the kiosk, you’ll receive information about a free downloadable app with additional Habit Hero play.
I downloaded the app to my iPhone and found that it had much of the practical information that I thought was missing from the Epcot attraction. At Innoventions, I thought it was fun to blast bad guys. But on a real world level, I didn’t see much actual information being dispensed other than the generic “drink water” and “move” advice available everywhere. The app solves some of these problems, offering trackers for specific exercises and consumption of water and healthy foods. Unfortunately, the information is aimed at kids, many of whom will be too young to have phones with which to access the app. (Or am I wrong about this? Do they now issue every newborn their choice of Apple or Android during the birth certificate application process?)
Overall, I’d say that Habit Heroes is pleasant enough way to pass 15 minutes at Epcot. If you’ve got a kid who needs to burn off a little energy or you have some time to kill before your Soarin’ Fastpass return time, then by all means head on over. You’re not going to find much new information, but you might get a good reminder to grab a few sips of water before heading out into the Florida sun.
Have you tried the new Habit Heroes attraction? What was your reaction? Did you like it? Did your kids? Let us know in the comments below.