Disney unveils a twisted vision of its theme parks in 'Epic Mickey'

October 24, 2010, 10:58 PM · Disney's just released iPhone and iPad "teaser" apps for its upcoming "Epic Mickey" video game. I'm not a gamer - as a full-time website publisher, writer, parent and community volunteer, I just don't have the time. But after a first look at the Epic Mickey apps, I might have to find time for this one.

You might know by now that I keep the focus here on theme parks, which means that I ignore much of the non-theme-park stuff the Walt Disney Company cranks out. But the Epic Mickey app shows that this game will have a strong theme park flavor. The game takes place in the "Wasteland," a Bizarro-Disneyland whose primary resident is not Mickey, but Walt's original toon creation: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Epic Mickey's Wasteland
'Epic Mickey''s Wasteland, from the iPhone app

According to the back story in the apps, the wizard Yen Sid, from Fantasia's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," created the Wasteland as a home for Oswald and other mostly-forgotten Disney characters, including Oswald's love, Ortensia, as well as Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Pete and The Mad Doctor. Oswald's also created an animatronic Donald and Goofy, from spare parts he's scavenged from his Magic Kingdom.

The name of the game space, of course, evokes T.S. Eliot's 1922 elegy of death and disorder, "The Waste Land." This Wasteland looks like Disneyland, but with several twists. This "Partners" statue on the Hub, for one, is not of Walt and Mickey, but Walt and Oswald. And over in what ought to be New Orleans Square looks to be a twisted take on Pirates of the Caribbean, with a giant Oswald looking much like Disneyland's old Skull Rock.

The app includes a free online comic, which reveals what surely will be some gameplay tips for Epic Mickey in the course of telling a quick story about Oswald and his animatronic friends within the Wasteland. (Oswald can remove his foot and rub it for luck, for example. It's a rabbit's foot. Get it?) I also found the comic refreshing for its almost Universal-like dig at the "It's a Small World" theme song. Snarky, self-deprecating humor from Disney? Sign me up!

Do note that you'll have a hard time reading the comic on the iPhone app. I had to switch to the iPad version to see the detail. Additional comics are available for $2.99. I'd hope for some game tips within those, as well.

Given all the theme park references, if this game is a success, I can't help but begin to envision potential "Epic Mickey" theme park attractions. Would Disney really go there?

Epic Mickey ($49.99) releases for the Wii on November 30. Anyone else looking forward to it?

Replies (9)

October 25, 2010 at 4:34 AM · Looks great!
October 25, 2010 at 8:49 AM · I am looking forward to it!

I am very interested in the concept of "Wasteland" with Oswald as the leader. It makes me kinda feel bad for Oswald because he was the FIRST of Walt's Creations and, for one reason or another, he was thrown aside for another of Walt's Creation, Mickey. It has a very classical, perhaps EPIC, drama behind it.


As for the other characters, wasn't Pete, Clarabelle, and Horace on House of Mouse? While they were not the most popular characters, I wouldn't consider them easy to forget. Either way, it is a compelling story.

On a side note, at the Disney Store, we used to sell a plush of Clarabelle Cow to go with, I guess, Goofy as part of our 2 for $20 deal. However, she was put on clearence pretty soon. I guess Oswald does have a spot for her in Wasteland.

I guess I just like the concept alot because it is such a powerful storyline of abandonment, revenge, and history without destroying the integrity of the characters.

October 25, 2010 at 9:59 AM · Anthony, both Pete and Clarabelle are also on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a big show in the 6 years old and younger set.

Oh and as for Epic Mickey, I am intrigued but I am also a little wary of it because it is on the Wii and I just don't like the Wii. I wish this was going to be either a PS3 or XBox 360 game.

October 25, 2010 at 11:16 AM · HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERT :)
October 25, 2010 at 12:03 PM · I would love to go to a "Wasteland"/"Epic Mickey" park-even better, I'd love to be a part of the design team for that park!
October 25, 2010 at 2:22 PM · I do like the idea, but given Disney's history of low-caliber video games, I can't have high hopes.
October 25, 2010 at 6:17 PM · I am VERY excited for this!

and Oswald was tossed aside because Walt lost ownership of him. He was created while Walt still worked for someone else. He was bought back specifically for the game. I hope he comes back a little now that Disney owns him again, maybe little appearances in new cartoons or something. Or a wasteland park, that'd be awesome. I like the play in Yen Sid's name.

October 26, 2010 at 12:05 PM · Epic Mickey is being created by Warren Spector, one of the brightest lights in computer/video game design today. Readers may (or may not) remember Spector for past hits System Shock and Deus Ex. He is well-known for crafting games with dark, detailed stories and memorable characters, married to lots of exciting action.

For Epic Mickey, Spector has significantly brightened the storyline to make it engaging for both children and adults. It features not only action in discarded and undeveloped Disney rides and attractions, but also lands based on classic Disney cartoons.

If you already own a Wii, this game should be a no-brainer. If you don't, this game may be one of the very best reasons to buy one this holiday season.

- Brian

P.S. I don't work for Nintendo, Disney or Spector's studio, Junction Point. As a technology journalist, though, I've followed his work for a very long time.

October 27, 2010 at 12:05 PM · It sounds like a great "what might have been" park!! It'll also be an excellent way to introduce the history of Disney to a wider audience.

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