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Video Game / The Walt Disney World Explorer

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A Magic Kingdom where the young at heart, of all ages, can laugh and play and learn together.
"Welcome to The Walt Disney World Explorer! You can use the Walt Disney World Compass if you want to get help, exit the program, go one step back or look up a specific area of interest. To activate the Compass, move Tinker Bell to the bottom-left corner of the screen."
Hettie Lynne Hurtes welcoming users to The Walt Disney World Explorer when they start the application

OK, let's get one important thing out of the way. Despite the namespace used for this page, this isn't a video game. It's more like a glorified slideshow viewer program. Got that? Good.

Anyway, The Walt Disney World Explorer is a Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh computer application developed by Mindsai Productions and Disney Interactive, the latter also serving as publisher, that detailed the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. It was first released on September 24, 1996, a week before the resort's 25th anniversary; the Windows executable is even named "wdw25.exe". This program had users "explore" a very stylized depiction of the resort with Tinker Bell as their cursor, clicking on various hotspots to view slideshows of various topics depicted within. These topics are narrated by Hettie Lynne Hurtes and Disney voiceover veteran Corey Burton, both of whom go over the basic history and notable facts about the resort.

OK, let's get another thing out of the way. This was really a promotional tool for Disney to digitally promote the resort back in the dial-up era of the Internet. What other way you can motivate people to plan and pay for a trip to Disney while making money off of them before they even start their planning than a carefully curated CD-ROM? This program, that's how!

A Second Edition was released on April 23, 1998, adding topics such as Disney's Animal Kingdom (which officially opened the day before), Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, and more. However, as the Internet became more ubiquitous and computer graphics improved,note  Disney never released any further editions afterward. Today, both the original and Second Edition releases are now seen as a digital Time Capsule for Disney fans to relieve a golden era of the beloved resort.

Welcome to The TV Tropes World Explorer!

  • Advertisement Game: For all intents and purposes, this application was made to promote the resort in the dial-up Internet era. The high-quality production values for its time and the fact that no further editions of this program were made after 1998 has worn off the "advertisement" part over the years.
  • A Winner Is You: Your reward for finding ten Hidden Mickeys? A 43-second video clip of Walt Disney saying his famous "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse," quote, followed by a brief montage of Mickey Mouse clips with the song "Congratulations, Mr. Mickey Mouse" playing. After the clip is done or skipped, the Hidden Mickeys are "re-hidden" and the counter resets. Even then, you can easily find the clip in the CD's files (GHAC0011.AVI) to watch it without having to find any Hidden Mickeys or, better yet, just watch it on YouTube!
  • Artistic License – Geography: A lot of Space Compression was done to fit a map of the resort in the game and make it look more interesting, cutting out a lot of wetlands, roads, parking lots, and various ancillary buildings that actually exist there. Some of the attractions are also placed in areas that don't match up with the relative places where they are in the real Walt Disney World. The same thing applies to the version seen in the Walt Disney World timeline, which is a little more accurate but still has some blatant faults.
  • Autosave: Not in a traditional sense, but the application will automatically remember which Hidden Mickeys you've found should you leave the program and come back later.
  • Edutainment Game: If a Disney-curated visual encyclopedia of their own resort counts for the "education" part, then yes.
  • Game Show Host: Charles Fleischer plays a (voiceover-only) parody of one for The Walt Disney World Quiz Challenge interactivity.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: Partially, with some of the video content and the tour guide of Tours of the World.
  • Minigame: There are a few here, called "Interactivities". The most prominent one is The Walt Disney World Quiz Challenge, a one-or-two-player Pop Quiz featuring various trivial facts about the resort. All the questions and answers are based on the "Trivia" slideshows found throughout the program. There are also Hidden Mickeys to find in the images themselves.
  • Museum Game: You're looking at slideshow exhibits of the Walt Disney World Resort up to circa 1996/98. It's as straightforward of an example of this trope as you can possibly get.
  • The '90s: It was released in 1996 and 1998 and it looks the part, especially with various people's clothing in the photographs used. Sounds like it sometimes, too, what with some background music in the slideshows.
  • Point-and-Click Game: As loose as you can get with the "game" part.
  • Product Displacement: For contractual purposes, Disney-MGM Studios (today Disney's Hollywood Studios) could not be mentioned under that name in certain marketing contexts, so Disney called it "Disney Studios Florida" in the program. This also forced the two photographs of the Earffel Tower used in the program to be doctored to remove the MGM branding; the photo showing its construction moved the Disney logo to the center of the blue banner on it and added tiny white pixels meant to resemble stars, while the photo of the completed tower had the Disney logo awkwardly moved to the center (you can see warping around the "Dis" part and a bit of the surrounding shadow around the D). However, if one looks carefully in the Backstage video for the general topic about the park (interestingly titled "MGMC0020.AVI"), you can see "Disney-MGM Studios" on the park's entrance as the camera flies over the park.note 
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Much of the application's background music is taken from Disney's own music archives, especially from various Walt Disney World shows and attractions. For example, the "it's a small world" snippet for the main Walt Disney World background music comes from the IllumiNations 25 medley. The version of the song that plays over the credits can (still) be heard on the Disneyland Paris variation of the ride.
  • Themed Cursor: This application's cursor is none other than Tinker Bell and her Magic Wand, flying in from the upper right to the center of the screen. The tip of her wand shines with pixie dust when it's over something clickable. She waves her wand down and up when you click on most clickable items, then she either dives into the hotspot (if you clicked on one in the map), flies away off-screen towards the upper-left (if you clicked on an option in a topic's screen), or just stays in place.
  • Time Capsule: An unintentional example, considering that Disney never bothered to make any subsequent editions after the Second Edition. Either way, people with the application can relive Walt Disney World in its 1990s heyday anytime they want.
  • Updated Re-release: 1998's Second Edition, adding new topics about things added to the resort since 1996, updating a few others, and removing some that no longer existed by 1998.


Video Example(s):


Take Flight to Buzz Lightyear

One of the most noticeable differences between 1996's The Walt Disney World Explorer and the 1998 Second Edition of the computer program is the Tomorrowland attraction Take Flight (Delta Dreamflight) being replaced by Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Take Flight/Delta Dreamflight was a dark ride featuring the history of flight that replaced the similar If You Had Wings (June 5, 1972 to January 3, 1989) and operated from June 23, 1989, to January 5, 1998. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, a shooting gallery dark ride based on Disney/Pixar's Toy Story franchise, soft opened on October 7, 1998 (likely a few months after the Second Edition's release, since only concept art is shown here), then officially opened on November 3, 1998, still operating to this day. In The WDW Explorer, the attraction switch required swapping the hotspot's design on the Tomorrowland screen from a propeller airplane on a cloud to Buzz Lightyear blasting off with smoke behind him. Additionally, the upper-left corner of the Tomorrowland screen shows that the land was renamed from "New Tomorrowland" (reflecting a major renovation it had in 1994) back to its original name. (Hettie Lynne Hurtes's narration for the area still called it "New Tomorrowland", though.)

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