In 2011, a gentleman by the Minecraft username “therealduckie” began laying the virtual blocks for what would eventually become the largest recreation of Walt Disney World on any of the game’s servers. The McMagic server boasts the ability to visit all four theme parks, several resort hotels, Typhoon Lagoon, Disney Cruise Line ships and even some backstage buildings. However, the server does not just allow guests to walk through the virtual recreations of the parks, but also real working attractions and shows, including nightly performances of Wishes! and Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, complete with music.
Minecraft is an award-winning “sandbox” video game that, at its core, enables users to inhabit a virtual world where they must mine resources and then craft them into whatever their imagination can create. After playing for some time and becoming an administrator on a reedit creative server, therealduckie decided to begin recreating the Magic Kingdom. Three years later, McMagic has had more than 180,000 visitors and on an average day one can find around 100 online users experiencing the parks.
For those of you who remember Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom (VMK), it differed from McMagic in that McMagic has no affiliation with the Walt Disney Company and is entirely supported by fans of Disney and Minecraft. Additionally, McMagic has no set goal as to what guests should do, unlike VMK, where users were encourage to collect virtual trinkets and play mini games based on the park’s attractions. McMagic is truly about allowing guests to experience the parks in as accurate a way as to one would in real life, down to even occasionally stopping by a restaurant to satisfy one’s virtual hunger.
McMagic attempts to recreate as closely as possible the experience of visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. There are additional Disney Minecraft servers on the internet that recreate other Disney Parks and attractions, but what sets McMagic apart is their attention to detail in recreating the accuracy of the parks online and the way they operate the server.
After finishing recreating the Magic Kingdom block by block, therealduckie decided that his virtual Magic Kingdom was not accurate enough to the one in Florida. He set upon the task to have the virtual Magic Kingdom be as close to 1:1 as possible. 1:1 in the world of Minecraft is for every one meter in the real world equals one block in the Minecraft world. The server’s “Imagineers” use resources like Google Earth to take satellite imagery of the parks and overlay them on a grid in the game’s world. They then go and place each block by hand to recreate everything from Spaceship Earth to trashcans. One “Imagineer” even recreated the Imageworks on the second story of the Journey Into Imagination pavilion, which is no longer open to the public at the real Epcot.
In fact, the server’s Imagineers’ obsession with accuracy has led them to take copious pictures of minute park details, including the aforementioned trashcans, water fountains and rarely remembered corners of the parks. So much so, they have already installed the new hub that is currently under construction at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in their virtual world.
The server attempts to recreate Walt Disney World not only physically, but in corporate culture as well through moderators (cast members) who have multiple roles. Cast members help users (guests), fix broken attractions and operate shows.
Imagineers are the builders of the server who build everything you see and experience in the park. McMagic also includes character meet-and-greets and autograph books for characters to sign. Just as in real life, these guests attempt to fill their books with as many character signatures as possible. Guests can not only meet the Fab Five, but even more obscure characters like Figment, Dreamfinder and Kovu (the antagonist from Lion King 2). Characters go through their own training to ensure their interactions are accurate to the personalities and utterances of whom they are portraying.
Another of McMagic’s most praised accomplishments is the family-friendly and secure nature of the server. Many of the “guests” are young children and therefore protecting these guests from inappropriate language and behavior is of utmost importance. The server uses a combination of plugins to ensure written communication is monitored and offensive language prevented. Sharing of personal information, advertising other Minecraft servers, discussing controversial topics and trolling are against policy and could lead to a temporary or permanent ban from the server.
Finally, the branding and look-and-feel of the server has also been a major priority for the owner and it shows. “Cast Members” all go through Traditions, just like in real life. This ensures that their interactions with “guests” on the server are professional, consistent and positive.
“[You need] to make something that people remember, make something that sticks out,” therealduckie explained. “Your verbiage is important, too. You always want to be positive in your verbiage. Even if you had a bad day. You could be having the worst day in the world, but you’re not going to want to go on the server and let these kids know that, because this could be this kid’s first time on there. We want them to have the best experience possible.”
Their formula has certainly paid off, as it has become well known as a place for Minecraft players from around the world and all ages to come on and visit WDW. McMagic also offers not just individual players, but even families to visit virtually together.
I recently read one example of a father who, due to a recent layoff, was unable to take his child on a Disney vacation that he promised. Knowing the disappointment this was sure to cause his child, he bought two Minecraft accounts and signed on to McMagic together to visit WDW.
“We do this because we’re able to give people that joy. Give people that magic every day,” therealduckie continued. That is exactly the right attitude when approaching a fan project. You should not be doing it for money or fame, but because you genuinely get a joy out of sharing something with others. McMagic brings together talented fans of Disney and Minecraft who can build and design immaculate recreations of WDW for users to log on and enjoy and by doing so creates a diverse and tight nit community. If you have a computer and are dying to see Wishes! or take a ride on the Tower of Terror, do yourself a favor and log on to McMagic, you’ll definitely be amazed.
What are your thoughts? Is this a viable option to get your “theme park fix”? Do they need to be so accurate as to include backstage areas? Leave your comments below and make sure to follow Theme Park University on Twitter and like our TPU Facebook Page!