Kinect: Disneyland Adventures Review

Disneyland Adventures does a remarkable job of replicating the park and all its charms, but flawed controls put a damper on this excursion.

Disneyland is one of the only places in the world where you can stroll down an idealized version of a small-town American Main Street, visit a haunted mansion, get a hug from Mickey Mouse, soar over London and into Neverland with Peter Pan, and have other wondrous experiences that are normally available only in the imagination. Disneyland Adventures tries to make these and other quintessentially Disneyland experiences available to you in the comfort of your own home. And in many ways, it succeeds. The park is re-created here with impressive accuracy and detail, and the attractions you can visit admirably capture the spirit of the rides that inspired them. Unfortunately, flawed controls mar nearly every aspect of Disneyland Adventures, making what should be a thoroughly enjoyable visit to the happiest place on earth as frustrating as it is fantastical.

You play as a child, free to roam the park to your heart's content without the need to wait in any long lines or stick close to virtual parents. (Actual parents needn't worry; this version of Disneyland is perfectly safe for youngsters.) After settling on an appearance for your in-game avatar, you're greeted by a talking golden ticket who becomes your constant companion in the park. He encourages you to introduce yourself to Mickey Mouse, who's standing nearby, and if you walk up to Mickey and wave, you're given the first of dozens of errands Disney characters have for you. Mickey wants you to get some autographs for him; Ariel wants you to collect some "dinglehoppers"; Buzz Lightyear needs you to blast surveillance cameras placed around the park by Emperor Zurg.

None of these are challenging--a golden path can always lead you to the next step of each quest--but children will likely enjoy the feeling of helping their favorite characters, and they get you moving from one area of the park to another. Your character never speaks, but the Disney characters you meet all have some charming, character-appropriate lines to rattle off. You can also dance with each character, collect their autographs in your own autograph books, and get hugs from them, and the 35 characters throughout Disneyland are a terrific assortment that includes classic characters from Disney's golden age as well as recent additions to the roster, such as Duffy Bear. A second player can jump in or out at any time, so it's easy to accompany another player on his or her adventures.

If you've been to Disneyland, you're sure to be impressed by the accuracy with which it has been re-created here. Near the entrance, for instance, the posters you see advertising attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain are authentic, and strolling through Tomorrowland, you notice the spot-on re-creation of details like the neon signs for the Star Trader shop and the Starcade amusement center. Accurate use of music also helps transport you to Disneyland. In one corner of Fantasyland, you might hear the title song from Beauty and the Beast, and in part of Frontierland, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" fills the air. A few park features such as Star Tours and the Indiana Jones Adventure are notably absent, but the game convincingly captures the look and sound of Disneyland's varied areas.

Some of the characters you meet are sane and some are crazy, but they're all very nice.
Some of the characters you meet are sane and some are crazy, but they're all very nice.

Unfortunately, although moving around the park in the game isn't as unpleasant as contending with crowds and scorching summer heat can be at the real Disneyland, it brings its own frustrations. You use your arm to guide your character around, which is sufficient for heading in the right general direction but makes stopping in specific spots, which you need to do to take pictures of certain landmarks, needlessly difficult. On top of that, just waving to get a character's attention can be a small ordeal. You have to wave for a few seconds straight before a character acknowledges you, and it's not uncommon for the meter that fills up as you wave to suddenly disappear, even though you haven't stopped waving. These issues make the voice controls for certain functions especially welcome. With a few words, you can call up a map and fast-travel to any region of the park, or zip right to any attraction. But the Disneyland atmosphere is so outstanding that it's a shame the controls make it awkward to do such simple things as standing in a spot so you can get a good look at an accurately re-created statue.

It's in many of the game's attractions, though, that the controls become a real hindrance. There are 18 attractions represented, and each one is visually exciting and delightfully reminiscent of the actual experience you might have at Disneyland. In Peter Pan's Flight, you fly with Peter over a lovely animated London, and then enter Neverland and ultimately duel with Captain Hook himself. In Space Mountain, you go on a speedy journey through the stars that brings you close to a black hole, a gas giant, and a comet field. These experiences might have been enthralling, but unfortunately, the controls frequently come between you and the Disney magic. On Space Mountain, for instance, as on numerous other attractions, you steer with your arms. As you hurtle through space, asteroids, space debris, and other hazards often get in your way, and the controls just aren't precise enough to let you reliably navigate around those obstacles.

Other attractions have you using your arms to aim rather than steer, and these suffer from similar problems. On the Jungle Cruise, you use your arms to aim a hose. You're supposed to use the hose to (among other things) shoot water into the mouths of hippos, and it's much more difficult than it should be to find the exact position where the water hits its mark, and then hold it there until the satisfied hippo moves along. There's no significant penalty for hitting an obstacle or failing to meet a goal--your overall rating out of five stars may be diminished a bit, but you can't lose at an attraction--but it's nonetheless frustrating to see your avatar go flying into hazards in spite of your best efforts to avoid them.

And you thought the tickets were expensive!
And you thought the tickets were expensive!

Some attractions (or sections of attractions) fare better. The sword fights that cap off Peter Pan's Flight and Pirates of the Caribbean are good fun; you wave your arm vertically or horizontally to swing your sword in those directions, and you have plenty of time to leap over or duck under your nefarious opponents' attacks. Other attractions focus on dancing. It's a Small World has you dance along with dolls that are doing traditional dances from around the world, and the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire imitates the format of Dance Central, with the sequence of dance moves you must follow scrolling up the screen. These simple movements are recognized by the game, so you can focus on dancing along with Ariel as she sings "Part of Your World" rather than struggling with the controls.

But more often than not, the controls come between you and your adventures in Disneyland. Whether you're trying to take a picture of one of the many hidden Mickeys throughout the park or you're bouncing down a country path with Tigger, the game's failure to recognize and respond to your movements frequently takes you out of the moment. It's too bad, too, because the park here so accurately captures the atmosphere of the place itself, and the attractions offer such a visually diverse assortment of experiences, from sneaking through a Spanish port with a friendly pirate to infiltrating Zurg's lair alongside Buzz Lightyear. But despite bursting at the seams with the kind of Disney magic that will charm children of all ages, Disneyland Adventures doesn't create the kinds of happy memories you wish it would.

The Good
Wonderfully accurate re-creation of Disneyland
Attractions capture the essence of the rides that inspired them
Lots of Disney characters to meet, help, and hug
The Bad
Unresponsive controls make many attractions frustrating
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Avatar image for alvarous

I tried to convince myself no to buy this game. Many reviews mention controll problems. I havent found any problem yet. Unless Im tired and need to rest. This is a fine game, maybe not great but really enjoyable. The kinect responds are not flawless but not terrible either, you can spend sometime in Disneyland and go around different lands. I am glad I bought it so far, money retributed with lots of fun.

Avatar image for jarofdirt882

Played it with my sister (and we are both adults.. big kids lol) and neither of us had a problem with controls. We even got our dad to have a go at small world and he didnt want to stop (he's never used a kinect before and was fine playing the minigames). Definitely deserves better than a 6

Avatar image for mduda1

I suspect that a number of users who complain about poor Kinect controls have not set up their Kinect correctly or their gaming area may be too small for the Kinect and frequently complain about most Kinect games. My sister was in the complaint group until I helped her change her Kinect setup and recalibrate. Personally, I find a number of the Kinect games rather boring, but this one was more fun.

Avatar image for mongaard

The controls are frustrating even if you are a child. My daughter is desperately trying to join a game by waving, but the wave-meter stops for no apparent reason halfway. She then has to leave the room and reenter and wave again. After some tries she gets to join. The problem is the same when we try to interact with charaters. You have to wave and the wave-meter stops halfway or does not start at all. Not just adults playing COD would find this is annoying. Basic actions should not be so hard carry out. You constantly have to interact with characters and log other players on and every time your annoy-meter rises because the wave-meter fails. They should have added voice commands for interaction and joining - the existing voice commands work quite well - or just make the gestures simple enough for the game to interpret them (simpler than waving...). Hope they will release a fix for this. From a frustrated parent

Avatar image for smvb

It's not as frustrating as this review makes it seem. We have had no problem, the controls are quite responsive, although there is a tiny bit of lag. You get used to it, though, and it doesn't bother us at all. It is a fun game if you are a fan of the Disney parks, and deserves higher than a 6.

Avatar image for magicbigp

Terrible kinect controls as usual, my 6 year old didnt like bacause the simple fact is that kinect is a big pile of steaming garbage and is just laggy and unresponsive cack.

Avatar image for Skongonk

Great game! My 6 year old loves it and could honestly care less about the controls. Controls matter when you're a 22 year-old playing COD.

Avatar image for tazdevil33

<< LINK REMOVED >> overall of 73 on metacritic seems to suggest not everyone found this frustrating perhaps?

Avatar image for tazdevil33

yet elsewhere this game is scoring quite well?

Avatar image for Pie_FOREVER

@ CarnageScream A better question would have been have any of the reviewers ever gotten laid.

Avatar image for SteveMcD01

Based on the User Reviews (on multiple sites) this "professional" review is bunk.

Avatar image for Goyoshi12

Sooooo....not GOTY? :( :P

Avatar image for CarnageScream

Do any of the reviewers have kids?

Avatar image for folklorico

remember when you guys reviewed Once Upon a Monster with kids, it wouldve helped again

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

That the game is alleged to have unresponsive controls would suggest that the game hasn't been play-tested with adults - or more precisely, players with greater awareness of consumerism. This game's made only for the kids, I suppose. :?

Kinect: Disneyland Adventures More Info

  • First Released Nov 15, 2011
    • PC
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Kinect: Disneyland Adventures is a game for the Kinect on the Xbox 360 that showcases both the Disney parks and the Disney worlds.
    Average Rating64 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Kinect: Disneyland Adventures
    Developed by:
    Frontier Developments, Asobo Studio
    Published by:
    THQ Nordic, Microsoft Game Studios
    Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Mild Cartoon Violence