One of the most beloved video game series around is the Kingdom Hearts series. Rightfully so, too. The games are indeed very good regardless of your experience of RPG games or Square Enix games. It is one of the best examples of a crossover done right as it captures the mechanics of a Square Enix game with the tone of Disney. Who knew that such an odd combo like that could create something so special?
I in recent months had the pleasure of visiting Walt Disney World for the first time in 13 years- best of all as an annual pass holder. I love the place even in my teenage years. The atmosphere is unbelievable, the attractions are unforgettable, the sights are so wonderful. It’s quite the place really. Currently it is a day until August, and my family and I have visited the park on 4 separate occasions, with another visit coming in a couple of weeks. However, every time I visit the same question seems to cross my mind eventually: Where’s Kingdom Hearts?
Kingdom Hearts as an entity is almost entirely absent from the park. I’ve only been to Disney World in Florida, but I also heard that California’s Disneyland and most of Disney’s other locations also don’t feature Kingdom Hearts. There isn’t a lick of the game anywhere. No merchandise, no attractions, no rides, no characters, no monuments, not even physical copies of the games. This is one of the few aspects of Disney that are not represented.
Shouldn’t they make some reference or attraction of Kingdom Hearts in their parks? Why isn’t it there in there in the first place? If they were to represent the series how would they go about it?
First we’ll tackle the “should” part. I don’t see why not. If you were to ask me about 10 years ago I’d say
what’s Kingdom Hearts it would be cool, but they’d need to establish themselves further in popularity to warrant much more representation than it already had. Nowadays the game is pretty well-known and established both within the gaming world and Disney lore in general. Sure your everyday person won’t know what the keyblade is, but enough people would.
Furthermore, Kingdom Hearts tends to sell its best in North America despite being a Japanese creation. But even Disney World Tokyo gave more attention to the series than Florida. This statue was once in Tokyo DisneySea.
Imagine this baby in one of the American parks. Even in this situation, though, this to my knowledge isn’t there anymore.
But we have to ask ourselves: what’s been stopping them? Could it be Square Enix? That’s the most widely accepted theory, but people seem to forget that this franchise is owned equally between Square Enix and Disney. Sure they’ll have to arrange a little deal with Square in terms of merchandising, but it wouldn’t hurt them that much since Disney souvenirs are already more expensive in the parks than anywhere else. Even if Square Enix had the final say (which they kind of don’t), why stop them? What better way to market your upcoming game than in a place where Disney reigns supreme? They can even sell Kingdom Hearts III in Downtown Disney or something.
Some might say that Disney doesn’t really acknowledge video games as much as their movies, shows and cartoons. This is actually not true. I’ve been to almost every park in Disney World. It’s not too common, but you can find Disney Infinity and buy it in their souvenir shops. Plus there’s DisneyQuest, which is a five-floor arcade. So yes they do represent video games in the park, just not this one.
Some may also argue that relevancy plays a part in Kingdom Hearts inclusion. I will concede that Kingdom Hearts isn’t as known as many of the other Disney properties. However, relevancy plays no part in making a Disney park attraction. Case and point, Splash Mountain. One of the most famous rides in Disney World is based on characters from a movie so controversial that it never received a physical release. If Song of the South gets a ride so should Kingdom Hearts.
Besides, people who visit and work at the parks actually do know what the game is. I own a Kingdom Hearts t-shirt and have worn it twice at Disney World; once in Magic Kingdom and once in Animal Kingdom. I was acknowledged 3 times for that shirt. Two of them were from the cast members (Disney’s word for employees), and one of them was from a tourist. Not to mention when wearing the shirt in general places like school or malls, people still complement the shirt. Either Kingdom Hearts is very popular or I’m just that good-looking.
With that said, there is one last thing that could very well be the reason we don’t see attractions for the game. It all comes down to what you can do with the intellectual properties you have. Exactly what could they do with Kingdom Hearts?
The problem with Kingdom Hearts is that it relies on other Disney properties in order to even exist. With all of the things you are able to do in Kingdom Hearts you could just as easily do with other franchises. When making a Kingdom Hearts ride, you’ll have to strip it down of most (not all) Disney, Final Fantasy or World End’s With You elements. Is it possible? To an extent, yes.
I may be a newcomer to the games, but even I see where ideas can resonate. Probably your safest bet is with the Gummi Ship. I’m thinking DINOSAUR ride mixed with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin with a touch of Space Mountain. You know, a slow moving ride with cooperative shooting for points with moving cart effects. Heck, I think it would be cool if it went fast at some points and slow at points of shooting. Of course, there are plenty of ways to go about this includng just making a straight-up roller coaster or even DisneyQuest simulator game.
Of course, I think this is the one I would want to see. And it is from a Kingdom Hearts III trailer of all places. That train is perfect! Look at it go!
Tell me with a straight face you wouldn’t want to ride that so that I can deem you a liar. It practically makes itself. Just the concept of a roller coaster with disappearing and reappearing tracks in an irregular pattern while fighting a massive beast is enough to get people interested. I’d ride that all-day long.
What about you guys? Let me know in the comments if you agree with anything I said. Do you think it’s likely to see Kingdom Hearts have some form of representation in Disney parks? What would you want to see of they end up doing so?
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!