This is the latest mobile game offering from Disney who have partnered with gameloft and was released March 17th, the game promises to allow you to build your own Disney theme park to experience the magic, but is it everything we wanted?
Now first I should point out the game is available on iPhone, Windows and Android but I have only played the iPhone version, so any opinions are based solely on this version.

Now id been looking forward to this game for a while before it's released, I'm a sucker for mobile games and obviously anything Disney is a major selling point in my books, but what really drew me to this game was the park building aspect. As someone who played theme park world to its death as a child, could this be the spiritual successor I'd longed for?

The app, like many others is available free of charge from the App Store, and this means it's accessible to everyone, on first play it can take a little while to load up, but the title screen art is beautiful, and the Disney music in the background was a pleasant distraction from the wait time.


The game is story driven and follows Mickey Mouse and his pals as they try to restore peace and happiness to the park after maleficent has cursed it. The dialogue is honestly quite forgettable, but the story is enough to give the game purpose and also pace. The further you progress through the "quests" the more of the park you are able to unlock and experience. In addition to this progression of quests allows you to unlock additional characters to roam your park and there are quite a few to add with characters from toy story, tangled and monsters inc making an appearance.

 Each quest requires a specific character to perform an action or visit a ride of attraction within the park, each action or visit has a pre set time to complete and this is in real time, so will keep ticking away when you leave the app.

This part is both the games charm and its downfall, on the plus side, it forces you to take a break as you'll eventually run out of things to do as you wait for the timer to run out, this is both good for you eyes and if you're anything like me for your productivity! The downside is for impatient people, like many free to play apps on the market the intention is to capitalise on people's impatient nature, in game gems will allow you to speed up and skip certain sequences and also unlock rides and other attractions earlier in the game. Gems are rewarded when players level up or when they level up their in park characters, but should you run out you can top these up via an in game purchase. The screenshot below gives you an idea of the prices for the different bundles. Parents beware! I would highly advise setting up a password for all in game purchases or disabling them in their entirety if you have littles playing or this once free app could get pretty costly!

  Once each task has been completed you are rewarded with not only story progression but stars which help you level up and magic which is used as an in game currency. Certain tasks by certain characters are also rewarded with various items that can be used to unlock new characters or level up existing ones.

 The game play isn't quite as much theme park world as I would have liked, but you can decide on positioning of certain rides and attractions and re arrange them at a later date. You can see some visitors thoughts and grant them to earn happiness points which give additional in game perks, and once a day you can set off a parade around the castle.
  The Jewel in the crown however for the game is its mix of real attractions with ones designed solely for the purpose of the game, small world, rc racer and toy soldier parachute drop are just a few that come to mind.
Overall the game is frustratingly addictive, and if you're anything like me you'll find yourself setting alarms on your phone to go back and check when certain tasks are complete. The graphics are fun and the soundtrack really helps to immerse you in to the Disney world. Part of me would prefer a paid for app than the in game purchase mechanic that Disney have chosen to use, but I can understand their choice as this allows them to reach a larger audience.
I would say this game is perfect for any Disney parks fan, especially if you're counting down to your next trip, or feeling the Disney blues having just come back from one. But I would also recommend it to fans of park simulators like theme park world and thrillville, sure it's a cut down version and doesn't have quite the same level of satisfaction, but it's an enjoyable distraction none the less!
It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than a few times, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, many people are surprised when they first meet me how much Disney plays a part in my everyday life.

It all started with a mouse … for as long as I can remember Mickey and Minnie have been in my life, we have old family photos of my older sister dressed as Minnie mouse at the age of maybe 6 or 7, we still own a Mickey mouse cool bag that we used to take on family holidays and days out, and Mickey and Minnie plates and bowls were a key part of every meal. But I don’t think that all too unusual a story for a child growing up in the 90s.

Throughout my child hood I can remember Disney always being there, my first memory of going to the cinema was to see the live action version of 101 Dalmatians. That Christmas most if not all of my presents were 101 Dalmatian related. I remember the going to see the first Pixar film at the cinema just me and my dad, A Bug’s Life my dad fell asleep and I was terrified of Hopper. By the age of 9 or 10 I was obsessed with the Jungle book and watched it at every opportunity, my dad still knows all the words to the songs and will sing along if it’s on.

During my early teens Disney stayed with me though it took on new forms, Disney’s Sing Star was a favourite as well as well as the Disney skate extreme game for Playstation 2, later in my teens Pixar started to gain momentum and this is where things started to escalate.

July 2006, sometimes it’s hard to pin point the exact time something in the universe shifts into place, but in this case, it couldn’t be more obvious. This was the turning point where Disney became a permanent fixture in my life with the release of the Pixar film Cars. This may surprise some people, the film did well with the critics and also at the box office, but it isn’t one most people would consider a favourite, nor is it particularly important in the history of Pixar or Disney, but to me this was more than important, it was life changing.

Something in the film struck a chord with me, and even to this day I couldn’t pin point exactly what, I like everything about the film, I enjoy the story, the characters, the music, I don’t think I couldn’t really fault it in any way and I was hooked, to date I think I’ve seen the film somewhere in the region of 300 times, I can pretty much quote any line, I collected merchandise, read up on facts about the film and its production I loved, and still do, anything to do with that film. And that’s where everything began.

So what is it about Disney that keeps me hooked?

The humour.

This is one of the biggest factors for me, the humour in Disney films really isn’t just for kids, I love the way jokes of all different levels are incorporated into the films, some more obvious than others. Take Disney’s newest offering Zootropolis for example, all throughout the city there are clever references that poke fun at companies and products we are all familiar with, but they are changed to blend in with their surroundings. Disney have a way of including jokes for adults that aren’t noticed by children and don’t seem out of place in family films, and this is key to their success in appealing to all ages.

The story telling.

The most important part of any film is the story and Disney are the masters of storytelling. A good example of this is Up, Pixar’s film from 2009, at the start of the film there is a montage of main character’s Carl and Ellie’s life together and the story of their romance, this sequence only lasts a few minutes but is known for how emotional and descriptive it is. And up is not unique in this sense, in Wall-E there is a large portion of the beginning of the film where there is little dialog as main character Wall-E falls in love with his robot companion Eve.

And let’s not forget some of the most emotional Disney moments from years gone by, Mufasa’s death, Bambi’s mother, the toys in the furnace in toy story 3, when Dumbo visits his mother with Timothy Mouse, Disney has a way of pulling on all of our emotions that is like no other.

The music.

The Sherman brothers. A team that wrote more motion picture musical songs than any other, and an asset to the Disney team. One of the most memorable parts of many Disney films is their incredible soundtracks, songs that you can’t help but sing along to and can’t get out of your head for hours, and sometimes days, afterwards! Over the years Disney have won countless awards for their musical scores that you can’t help but appreciate, from Mary Poppins to High school musical, music is a massive part of the Disney magic.

The animation.

This one is massive for me, having studied games design at university, animation, in all forms is something that has interested me for a long time, Disney are constantly pushing the boundaries of technology and animation techniques, and this is often evident in their shorts before feature films, I’m constantly amazed by how realistic Disney are able to make even the most unrealistic of things and I’m always excited to hear and see what is coming next. I love the way they play with different styles from the classic animation of sleeping beauty and snow white, to the 3D worlds of wreck it ralph and the Incredibles, to the unusual style of animated shorts paperman and feast.

So if you ask me, you can never be too old to appreciate Disney, it has something for everyone, and something I hope to continue to enjoy and follow for many years to come.
Zootropolis, or zootopia as its called in the Us, is the latest offering from the Walt Disney studios. The story follows new recruit Judy Hopps as she leaves her home in bunny burrow to realize her dream of joining the police force in zootropolis a bustling city that's home to all species of animal big and small, when Judy arrives everything isn't what she hoped it would be, but when she gets the opportunity to take on a case that's make or break for her career she embarks on a crazy adventure with sly fox nick Wilde.

Zootropolis like many Disney films may be seen predominantly as a children or family film but it has no shortage of jokes and references that are there to be appreciated by adult viewers, and this is part of its charm, I could watch this film 10 times and I still don't think I'd find all the references which blend seamlessly into the stunning environments.
As always the animation is top notch and the attention to detail is second to none, the animators and designers have clearly studied the animals and their environments to ensure they are mimicked as closely as possible. The city of Zootropolis is impressive and makes a huge impact when Judy sees it for the first time, it is split into different environments and this showcases the range of weather effects Disney are able to recreate.

In particular I love the way everything has been tailored to suit the different animals living within the world, the first example of this is the train that takes Judy from bunny burrow into the city, there are smaller doors all along the carriages to allow rodents easy access, large main doors for rhinos and elephants and sections with high roofs to cater to giraffes. The animals have been given a lot of human characteristics and this has been carefully blended so as not to detract from key animal characteristics, they all walk on 2 legs and wear clothes, but they still have their unique traits, for example Judy's nose which twitches when the situation is tense and her ears which move to help portray her emotions.

The film has a strong story, and does not feel like it's the same story being told over and over again, it feels fresh and well thought out. There were plot twists which weren't expected and this kept you glued to the screen trying to work out what was going to happen next It was the perfect balance between humour and more serious moments.

Over all I would rate this film highly, I enjoyed the story and I loved the use of humour and references. The characters had strong personalities and the plot twists kept you glued to the screen, I can see this film doing very well in the cinema and have already seen plenty of merchandise to support its release. I can't wait to see it again.
March 12th 2016
It's something I've always wanted to do, just take a day off and spend it in the most magical place on earth, but I was never sure how it would work out and if there'd be enough time to feel like I'd got to experience the magic in just one day. But I did it and here's my trip report.

I travelled over night by coach from London with a small travel company as they were offering a good deal, this was my first trip driving and my first experience of a ferry and I must say it was much more pleasant than I had expected, admittedly it may be because I wasn't the one who had to drive!

We arrived in Disneyland at about 9:30 am and collected our park tickets from the coach driver, agreed a time for everyone to get back to the coach at the end of the day and then we were off!

It's only a short walk to the park from the car park and one we got to the park the queue for bag check was moving swiftly, lots of security about and event mounted police, it was very reassuring without being intimidating. We decided to check out the main Disney park first and the first stop was the annual pass office.

I bought my annual pass through a uk based company called super trips, there are 3 tiers of pass and each tier provides additional benefits including discount on rooms in Disney hotels, restaurant and store discounts, I had purchased the dreams pass which is the highest level and cost £153. Exchanging my voucher for a permenant pass was surprisingly easy, I had to queue for a short time outside the office, and was then invited in by a very pleasant cast member who was able to talk me through the process and provided me with a French-English cheat sheet as all the terminals are in French. There were a few details to fill in, then a webcam photo and that was everything done, my first annual pass was printed and ready to go.
Next stop was back up Main Street to collect my photo pass plus, this is a service where you can store your ride photos and also character meet and greet photos on an app which you can access for 12 months, it is much cheaper than buying photos individually and it is nice to have access to all the photos in one place. An annual pass means you can pick up a photo pass which lasts for 12 months to add photos to, rather than the standard 10 days to add photos, this was €39.99 and bought from the photo store at the top of Main Street that attaches to flora's boutique.

The first ride of the day was Buzz Lightyear's space blast, and this was probably my biggest regret of the day. Now hands down this is one of my favourite rides, I say ride but it's as much a game as it is a ride, despite it being one of my favourites it was a huge regret to do this first, the parks are massively busy on a Saturday and it would seem buzz is popular with everyone! The queue was huge, and the queue to get a fast pass was just as bad! We ended up queuing maybe an hour and 15 but we finally got on the ride and it was everything I remembered and enjoyed!

Next stop was Disney village as we had lunch reservations with the mouse himself, this was my first trip to cafe Mickey so I wasn't 100% sure what to expect and had heard mixed things about the service and food so was a little aprehensive. We made a quick stop on the way into world of Disney where I picked up a new autograph book and some Mickey ears. We booked in advance for cafe Mickey and this is something I would 100% recommend as they were turning people without reservations away by the time we turned up, we were seated quickly and given a menu and left to make our minds up. There are 2 and 3 course options and drinks are seperate. I went for a 2 course option which was €35.99 which I thought was worth it considering the portion sizes and the character interaction.

I had the mushrooms to start and a pizza as a main and was very happy with both the service was quick and very friendly. When we first arrived the characters were just going in to the back to change over but just a few mins later Mickey, Tigger and Goofy came out and started going round the tables to greet the guests. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the characters made sure they came to all the tables and didn't rush the guests, the interaction was brilliant, I did have some film of this but unfortunately I lost it just after I got home, a good reason to go again! After the characters had made their way around the tables, and Mickey had delivered some birthday cakes to lucky guests, the characters swapped over again Mickey came back out but was now accompanied by Pluto and Rabbit. Over all we spent about an hour in cafe Mickey, we didn't feel rushed but at the same time we didn't have to wait around for any characters, the whole experience was great and I would definitely do it again.

Back to the main park after lunch everything was still very busy but we timed it perfectly to catch Minnie's little Spring train as it started at the top of Main Street, this short parade is on a few times a day and features Minnie, Daisy and some of her Spring time friends including thumper and miss bunny, our trip happened to fall on a press day which meant Cheshire Cat also appeared on the train as a special guest!

We took a walk down to frontier land next and popped into the pin trading store, this is the place to swap unwanted pins with other collectors, but also the place to buy your limited edition pins and vinylmations, I picked up a spring themed aristocats pin which was released that day, and I was also able to get my hand on one of the limited edition last trip to Endor pins which I was very happy about.

We narrowly missed the next showing of the Forest of Enchantment so took the chance to take a walk around and take in some of the scenery and go and grab a Duffy bear which was top of my to do list. We made it back for the next showing of Forest of Enchantment and I'm so glad we did, this is the new show in the chaparral theatre and is running from Feb until the start of May it features Baloo and King Louie, merrida, rapunzel, Tarzan and Pocahontas and was better than I could have hoped for, the set was incredible and the dancers were just brilliant. I would highly recommend seeing this show if you are able to and hope Disneyland bring this back either in the autum or next spring!

After forest of enchantment we decided to fill our late afternoon and early evening with some rides, this included slinky dog in the studios park and small world, star tours and lancelots carrousel in the main park.

Before dreams we stopped for a quick counter service meal in cafe Hyperion, this is my favourite counter service restaurant as it has plenty of seating and during the day it shows star was clone wars and is now home to the Jedi academy! I also love the steampunk style theming, I had a chicken burger meal, with fries a soft drink and a choice of pudding for €11.99 and the portions are more than generous.

After food all that was left for the evening was Disney dreams, the fireworks show on the castle, this, as always was breathtaking, to get the best view you do need to get there early and hold your spot, but we were stood by plaza gardens and were able to enjoy the show and get caught up in the music!

That marked the end of our Disney day, and what a day it was. I enjoyed every min I spent in the parks and the village and managed to get more done than I thought I might, that said, if I was going to do a day trip again I would try to do a weekday not a weekend as the queues prevented us from getting a lot done.

My other top tips would be to make the most of fast passes where they are available and also to use the DLP map to check wait times before you walk across the park to find a massive wait time at a ride you want to do! If character meets are important to you character dining is a must, it eliminates queue time and at a weekend can be a nice break from the business of the parks. Just be prepared that it will wet your appetite for more, so expect to come home with Disney blues that can only be cured by planning another trip!

I'm going back in May, so hope to try more character dining then! But if you want to know anything about my trip or about the rides shows, parades and parks feel free to ask!

Faith, trust and pixie dust