Disney Magic Kingdoms Mobile Game Updates

Disney Magic Kingdoms is a free-to-play mobile game that was released in early 2016.  The game allows players to build their own Disney theme park.  Back when it was new, Daffy Stardust checked it out and compared it to a similar game he was playing, The Simpsons: Tapped Out.  Daffy thought the game might be colorful enough to entertain small children, but found it’s limitations frustrating.  I have actually stuck with the game for over a year now and I thought I would update readers regarding how Magic Kingdoms has changed since its release.

Recently, Magic Kingdoms added new content for the twelfth time.  I think it makes sense to walk through the changes one update at a time.  The first update, released a few months after the game began, added characters from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  New characters included Aurora, Prince Phillip, and the three fairies.  New attractions and decorations with a Sleeping Beauty theme were also included.  Also, Donald Duck and Mother Gothel, who had been included in the game since its launch, were finally made available to players to unlock.  The game itself wasn’t changed in any meaningful way.  This was basically fleshing out the bare bones version of the game that was available at launch.

Shortly after the addition of Sleeping Beauty, Magic Kingdoms hosted its first limited-time event.  During these events, players can unlock characters and content that will be difficult to obtain after the event is over.  The purpose is to entice players to spend real money on advantages in order to meet the game-imposed deadline.  If you miss anything, there will be opportunities to complete your collection at a later date.  But it will be even more expensive after the event is over.  Diabolical, isn’t it?

It is possible to complete the events without spending any hard-earned cash.  I have done it every time.  But if you haven’t been playing the game since it was released, it’s going to be hard to get caught up and you will almost certainly fall short on your first event.  As you can see from the picture, the game’s first event was Incredibles-themed.  After recruiting all the members of Disney’s super-family, you had to defeat the villain Syndrome.  Once you had done so, you could also recruit Syndrome to your park.  Subsequent events would follow this template though some of the smaller ones didn’t include the boss fight.

If you’re a Disney parks fan who might want to create a park that resembles the real Magic Kingdom in Orlando or Disneyland in Anaheim, it’s a little weird to devote so much real estate to a movie like The Incredibles which is barely represented in the real parks.  The game includes attractions that have no real-life counterparts.  If you’re going to be successful, you just have to accept that your park is going to be unlike anything you have ever visited on vacation.

The game’s next update introduced characters from Cinderella.  If you were expecting this update ton include the Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine and the wicked step-sisters (characters who actually appear in Disney parks), you were going to be disappointed.  To date, only Prince Charming and Cinderella have been added.

While this seemed like a relatively modest update, it actually changed the mechanics of the game going forward.  In order to recruit Cinderella, you first needed to get her prince.  And in order to unlock him, you needed a single token, a pair of his gloves.  That sounds easy enough, but it turns out the only way to obtain Prince Charming’s gloves is through the newly introduced enchanted chests.

Beginning with this update, treasure chests were randomly hidden throughout your kingdom.  They could be anywhere, even in unlocked land.  In those early days of chests, finding them was a major headache.  By now, I know all of the hiding locations so it’s not much of a challenge, but back then it was a major source of frustration.

There are four types of chests to be found; bronze, silver, gold and platinum.  Bronze chests are very common and contain modest rewards.  Platinum chests are rare and contain the most desirable items.  Prince Charming’s gloves were only included in gold and platinum chests which didn’t turn up very often and even when you found one there was no guarantee you would receive the token necessary to unlock the new characters.

Of course, chests are available for purchase.  If you get impatient, you can always trade in some gems for some chests.  But even if you make this trade-off, there’s no guarantee you will get what you are looking for.  Chests are completely random no matter how you obtain them.  I make it a policy to never spend money on freemium games, so it took me several months to unlock Prince Charming.  I came close to unisntalling the game at this point because it seemed to me that if this trend continued, there would be no way to advance without spending actual money.  Fortunately future updates didn’t follow this model.

From the game’s launch, I have been confused by some of the decisions.  For example, movies like Toy Story and Monsters Inc are heavily represented in the game.  Adding Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella made sense to me, but I wasn’t sure about the choice for the next update; Pirates of the Caribbean.  It’s not that I don’t like Pirates, I do.  But adding a live-action movie franchise into the game when there were still so many classic animated properties that weren’t represented seemed like an odd choice.

What’s more, Adventureland, the land in which the Pirates of the Caribbean ride resides, remains “cursed” to this day.  For over a year now, I have had Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Jack Sparrow running around Fantasyland because Adventurland is unavailable.  The ride that inspired the movies is not yet included in the game, but they did make up a couple of pirate-themed attractions – which is also kind of weird.  With so many actual rides to choose from, Disney Magic Kingdoms offers players the opportunity to put a giant octopus in their parks.  They also added the Mad Tea Party as a premium attraction meaning if you wanted an actual iconic park ride in your digital park, you need to part with some gems to get it.

As Fall 2016 rolled around, it was time for another limited time event.  This one had a Nightmare Before Christmas theme which makes sense given that it coincided with Halloween.  Like the Incredible event, players recruited characters to defeat a villain at the end of the event.

Once again, these aren’t characters that frequent Disney parks and it’s a little weird to have a Tim Burton-themed land in the middle of your Magic Kingdom…

This update introduced the concept of costumes to the game.  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy could collect fabric to create Halloween costumes which actually match the ones the characters wear in the parks.  Wearing the costumes opens up some new missions which will sometimes be useful in future events.  Otherwise, the costumes are purely ornamental.

The Haunted Mansion was added as an expensive premium attraction.  As is typical of Magic Kingdoms, it did not resemble any existing version of the actual ride, but merely evoked a generic haunted house.  And the Hollywood Tower of Terror was added exclusively to the ultra-rare platinum chests which means you are going to need money or patience if you want it.

The park got a temporary make-over for the Christmas season which included a limited time Frozen-themed event.  Mickey and Minnie got new holiday costumes, but most of the Fab Five were wearing their Halloween costumes in order to complete event missions (which was kind of weird).  The updated included all the Frozen characters you would expect; Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven with Hans as the villain at the end.  It also introduced lots of Frozen-themed attractions that were invented for the game.

As a long time player, I tend to like these limited time events.  They allow me to add a bunch of characters to my park in a short time.  But if you’re a newer player, you’re going to struggle finish everything in time.  Generally speaking, less than half of the available characters will actually be useful in gathering the tokens needed to recruit characters.  So if you missed out on a character from a previous event, you may be down a resource for completing the current one.  The Frozen event utilized some of the Halloween costumes, so a player who missed out on those was at a distinct disadvantage this time around.

Additionally, the Frozen event was the first to include two premium characters (Olaf and Sven).  If you want any chance of completing the event in time, it his highly recommended that you purchase any and all premium characters.  That would require having around 400 gems lying around (or buying them of course).  Veteran players have the ability to build up gems in between events, but newbies are either going to have to reach for their credit card or do without.

The first update of 2017 was a Mulan-themed event tying into the Lunar Festival.  Mickey and Minnie added Lunar Festival costumes to their wardrobe.  Mushu was a premium character whereas Mulan and Li Shang were recruitable through ordinary means.

This event did not include a villain to fight at the end.  There were a couple of new attractions and decorations that made it look like the China Pavilion from Epcot had invaded your castle park.

Coinciding with the release of Disney live-action movie, Magic Kingdoms’ next update was a Beauty and the Beast event.  This one followed the pattern set by the Frozen event including Gaston as the villain, Mrs. Potts and Chip as two premium characters and formal costumes for Belle and the Beast.

After several limited-time events in a row, there were complaints from players.  Newer players were struggling to keep up, but even older players were looking for some advancement in the game’s main story-line which involves removing a curse from the park.  This was the first update in a while to address the regular story.

First of all, Merlin became a recruitable character.  Unlike other characters in the game, he didn’t go on missions.  Instead, he cast spells that helped the player with certain tasks.  For example, Merlin’s gathering spell can retrieve all of the magic and experience from all of the attractions in your park without having to individually collect them.  He also had a spell to increase overall park happiness which is helpful for running parades.

The update also introduced Chip and Dale who are mainstays in actual Disney parks.  There was no time limit to recruit the chipmunks so if you ran out of time during the event, they were still available.

In the Spring, there was an Easter event.  This one was unusual in that no new characters were introduced.  Instead, players worked to collect Easter costumes for Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy.  Minnie and Pluto’s costumes could only be purchased using gems.

The update also included a new spell for Merlin.  This proved to be a bigger addition than the new costumes.  Merlin’s conjuring spell could turn all of the decorations players had been collecting from enchanted chests into a new game currency called elixir.  Elixir could be traded in at Merlin’s shop for pieces of fabric which could be used for costumes, tokens to recruit or level up characters, or additional enchanted chests.  There was even an exclusive Nemo-themed attraction that could only be purchased from the shop.

By this point, I had opened countless bronze chests featuring the same lamps, benches, etc.  It got to be a burden to open the things only to reveal another useless item.  Now, I could unload my inventory in exchange for something I could actually use.

Summer kicked off with a smallish Zootopia update.  This one wasn’t an event, so players didn’t have to rush to recruit Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde or Chief Bogo.  Flash was included as a premium character.

The update included Zootopia-themed attractions which don’t actually exist at any Disney park.  By this point, the game is filled with lands that don’t correspond to any that exist in the real world.  The Golden Zephyr from Disney California Adventure was added to Merlin’s shop.

That brings us to the most recent update and the Lion King event which is in its final days.  Scar is the villain who must be defeated.  Timon, Pumba, Nala and Simba are the primary characters and Zazu and Rafiki are available for purchase using gems.  The event itself is pretty standard although it’s a bit weird having lions roaming a park filled with children.  The new attractions include the Festival of the Lion King which actually exists in Animal Kingdom although the game version bears no resemblance to the theme park show.

The big news for this update was that after over a year of waiting, a new land had opened up.  Since we already had characters from Pirates, a lot of players were expecting Adventureland to be unlocked.  But instead, we got Frontireland.

In order to unlock Frontireland, players have to recruit Bullseye from Toy Story.  Yep, more Toy Story characters.  Although he is not going to be available until after the Lion King event, the little green alien will join Bullseye soon.

Another new property has been introduced.  Once Bullseye has been unlocked, players can also recruit characters from The Jungle Book.  Currently only Mowgli and Bagheera are available, but developers have indicated more characters will be added in future updates.

Over roughly a year and a half, Disney Magic Kingdoms has grown and improved.  Having said that, the core game remains the same.  It still lacks customization.  And if you are a theme park fan, it can be frustrating to see attractions invented for the game while real-life rides remain unaccounted for.  If your goal in playing is to create your own Disney theme park, Magic Kingdoms doesn’t really provide a means to do so.  But if you can get past its shortcomings and you have either the patience or the money needed to advance, there is fun to be had collecting rides and characters for this bizarre “alternate universe” theme park.


Posted on July 28, 2017, in video games and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. daffystardust

    It sounds like the game is still mired in some of the complaints I had about it previously, but the appeal of the characters they have at their disposal is likely to keep many people hooked. I eventually abandoned my Simpsons town about 6 months ago when EA had trouble with their sign-in interface. I might have lost my town entirely to some sort of glitch, but my inability to sign in and the slow-going on one of their more promising newer features made it easy to call the game a good memory and move on from it. I’d still love to try out a Disney-themed game with more of the features I prefer.


    • Every criticism you made in your original write-up is still valid. The last year and a half of updates have added some depth and variety, but the core of the game hasn’t changed. The new territory in Frontierland was designed with straight borders which makes it easier to place attractions where it feels like they should fit. But that is just two blocks of land. In most of the park, you’re still fitting square pegs in round holes which can be frustrating. From the point of view of a Disney Parks fan, Magic Kingdoms almost seems designed to irritate with made-up attractions or rides that look nothing like the attractions they are named after.

      I currently play two mobile games and both have a Disney theme. The other is Disney Emoji Blitz which I plan to write-up in the future. If you are looking for a casual puzzle game (think Disney Candy Crush), Emoji Blitz is a lot of fun without a lot of commitment. But it’s not all that different from dozens of other matching games out there.


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