Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom
By tim on May 24, 2006

Full story at: http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/20..._kingdom.html\

One of the trends we're watching is the growing crossover between real and virtual. I got an interesting tour of Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom a couple of weeks ago, and it surely drove this point home.
Now, to start off with, most Radar readers are likely to be unfamiliar with this site, since it's aimed at kids 8-12, the so-called "tweens," not at folks like us. But it's a dynamic virtual world with users who've created 1.4 million avatars, and 3-4 million "rooms." Not too shabby. But what's really interesting is the way that Disney based the structure of the world on the real-world theme parks, and how rooms and avatars are modeled on real-world Disney attractions. Games allow kids to experience -- and by their reactions, even help to design -- coming attractions. It's a world in which Paul Yanover, the head of the group that developed VMK, says "people swim around in our iconography and brand."

Paul noted how kids show up at the theme parks already knowing their way around, and when they recognize some feature, say "Look, Mom, there's the xxx from VMK!" seemingly not realizing that it's VMK that's modeled on the real world (if you can consider a Disney theme park the real world) and not the other way around.