When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1932, the mythical citizens of Metropolis would one day look upwards and introduce him with the voiceover, “Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s Superman.”
In 2009, a modern superhero, Kim Possible, has become the subject of the newest attraction at Disney World. Now, theme park enthusiasts can point to this attraction and proclaim, “Look, in Disney World, it’s a new ride…it’s a new show…no, it’s…uh…it’s…uh…what the heck kind of attraction is this, anyway?”
Disney has long been known for their creative, cutting edge concepts and the Kim Possible attraction is no exception. It is unlike any theme park attraction I have ever seen. Which also makes it very difficult to describe.
The attraction is located at World Showcase in EPCOT. World Showcase is the back half of EPCOT. There is a large lake surrounded by 11 different “countries.” Each country is a collection of buildings, shops, restaurants and attractions representing the culture and architecture of that country. For example, in Japan you will find two Japanese restaurants, a pagoda, a Japanese water and meditation garden, a rock garden and several gift shops selling authentic Japanese items.
When you enter a “country” in EPCOT, the experience feels like you are really in that country. The music you hear is from that country. The restaurant is a copy of an identical restaurant from that country and is run by the same people. Even all the Disney “cast members” (Disney’s term for their employees) within a country are from that country.
Seven of the eleven countries in EPCOT’s World Showcase have a Kim Possible adventure within the country.
To participate in the Kim Possible attraction, you first stop by a small cart, called a recruitment center. There are two of them at EPCOT. One is at the Innovations Pavilion at the front half of EPCOT. The other is located on the Odyssey Bridge between the countries of France and United Kingdom in the World Showcase part of EPCOT.
At the cart, you are given your “Kimmunicator”–Something Disney refers to as an “interactive, handheld, cell-phone-like device using state-of-the-art technology.” But to you it will look like an ordinary cell phone. You also receive a piece of paper with a time and country in World Showcase where you go to begin your adventure.
Each member of your party can get their own “Kimmunicator” or everyone can enjoy the attraction with just one. Number One Daughter received her assignment to go to the United Kingdom while Number One Son’s assignment was in Germany. At the end of the assignment, your Kimmunicator asks if you would like another assignment. In this way, Number One Daughter also got to pursue the evil villains in Japan.
The fancy cell phone, uh, Kimmunicator, can be activated when you arrive at your country at the prescribed time. Here is where the attraction becomes very interesting. The display on your Kimmunicator comes to life with a short video of Kim Possible and reveals the story line involving one of seven different villains (a different one for each country.) You are then instructed to go to someplace that is identified within that country. Once there, your Kimmunicator will activate something that everyone else around you assumes is only a display item. For example, in the United Kingdom a large nutcracker soldier inside a window display comes to life and gives you important information to complete your mission. In Japan, a large rock inside the meditation garden would magically display a Japanese Kanji Character when activated by the Kimmunicator as part of the story line to destroy the evil villain. In the United Kingdom, one of the workers at the Tea Shoppe gives you the gift of a tea bag if you say the magic word to her, as told to you by the Kimmunicator.
There are four or five different videos for each mission which takes place in one of the participating seven countries–Each video gives you more information about your evil villain then instructions for where to go to activate the next special part of your mission. Once completed, your evil villain is defeated, you (and Kim Possible) are victorious and your Kimmunicator gets dumped into a specific location that also appears to everyone else around you to be simply part of the ornamentation of that country. In Germany, Number One Daughter dumped her Kimmunicator into the specified barrel sitting in the middle of the town square.
What made this attraction so much fun was the ability to do it in the middle of EPCOT with all the other tourists walking around you; oblivious to what you were doing. Afterwards, it became fun to watch other people doing the attraction and knowing what they were up to while people just passed them by, assuming they were merely using their cell phones.
Our children seemed to enjoy this attraction a lot. But what was really fun was watching families with even younger children who obviously have seen the Kim Possible TV show and who were just tickled pink to use the Kimmunicator to activate the displays. In Japan, for example, one of the Kimmunicator instructions sent a signal to a rock in the middle of the water meditation garden and created a waterfall right in front of your eyes. It was cool.
Even my good friend, Jedibfa, who is a long way from being a youngster, was excited when he heard about the technology necessary to create this unique attraction. Hopefully, it won’t be long before he and his friend, Lizthefair, come to visit us in Florida to enjoy the attraction for themselves!