For fans of both Disney and gaming, there’s been one video game franchise that’s dominated their hearts for the past two decades – the Square Enix Kingdom Hearts series of video games and associated tie-in media.
A collaboration between the Walt Disney Company and Square Enix (a well-known video game software company), Kingdom Hearts is an action role-playing video game series that sees the main character Sora traveling to the worlds of popular Disney movies as he attempts to save all of reality from a series of darkness-obsessed villains.
As with many such role-playing series – especially those produced by Square Enix – the story gets a lot more complex than that over time, with new protagonists coming to the fore and a rich mythology developing around original characters and ones borrowed from both Disney IP as well as other Square Enix properties such as Final Fantasy and The World Ends With You.
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One area of the Walt Disney kingdom that has seen little crossover with the game series, though, is the Disney Parks. Though the most recent major release in the series – 2019’s Kingdom Hearts III – featured special “Attraction Flow” attack abilities that recreated Disney Parks rides, including Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the Mad Tea Party, Big Thunder Mountain, and Grizzly River Run, otherwise the Parks have mostly been absent from the games.
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And the same has been true in the Parks themselves. Though fans have been able to find some Kingdom Hearts merchandise in the Parks and at Disney Springs or Downtown Disney – a shirt here, a pin there – the popular game series has thus far never been integrated into the Disney Parks.
But what would that integration even look like? In keeping with the secretive Organization XIII, which serves as an antagonist in the series, here are XIII ideas for how to bring Kingdom Hearts to the Disney Parks, ranging from the virtually impossible to the highly likely.
I – Kingdom Hearts Park
Let’s be real – as cool as it might be for fans of the franchise, an entire Park dedicated to Kingdom Hearts would be way too niche for Disney to even consider. Its Parks are themed around general ideas like “movies,” “nature,” “world’s fair,” and “magic,” not specific intellectual properties (IPs). The only way this might work would be if Disney wanted to build an entire Park around multiple IPs and used the Kingdom Hearts story as connective tissue to provide an in-world explanation for why all these various franchises have come together in one physical place.
II – Kingdom Hearts Land
An entire land dedicated to Kingdom Hearts would also be unlikely since the franchise doesn’t reach the same heights of popularity as other IP-dedicated lands, such as Star Wars, Cars, and Toy Story. However, the world of the games is so complex, with so many characters, that it would be possible to create an entire land for them that doesn’t pull in any of the other Disney IPs, making a dedicated land something that’s extremely improbable rather than flat-out impossible.
III – Kingdom Hearts Ride
Today’s technology would bring a lot of awesome possibilities to a Kingdom Hearts ride. With the new generation of combination thrill/dark rides, the magic-makers at Walt Disney Imagineering could easily bring to life Sora’s journey to the various Disney kingdoms. It could even be a “best of” attraction that brings in scenes featuring all the most popular characters and recreates the frenetic, action-based sensation of fighting against Xehanort, the heartless, and other Kingdom Hearts baddies.
V – Kingdom Hearts Parade
Once again taking advantage of the central conceit of Kingdom Hearts – that every individual Disney franchise is united in a connected multiverse – a parade based on the franchises could impart a storyline to what is usually just a disparate collection of floats. Plus, we’d get to see an array of walkaround characters and cool floats based on our favorites from the games!
IV – Kingdom Hearts Show
As incredible as any of the first four options on this list might be, their likelihood is extremely small. Compared to building an entire attraction or parade, though, the level of investment in a stage show is far lower, making it possible that Disney could create a live show that features – in part or as the central story – Kingdom Hearts characters and locales!
VI – Kingdom Hearts Parade Float
Since the Disney Parks parades are often organized around a theme rather than a storyline, it would be possible to bring a Kingdom Hearts float into the mix, using some of the games’ most popular characters and based around an iconic locale such as Twilight Town, Destiny Islands, or the Keyblade Graveyard!
VII – Disney Parks World(s) In A Kingdom Hearts Game
Whenever a new Kingdom Hearts game is announced, fans eagerly guess what new lands based on Disney films and franchises will be available to visit. Though Star Wars and Marvel remain the most wanted of these possibilities, a land patterned after a Disney Park – or a specific ride/attraction – would be very cool and exciting.
VIII – Kingdom Hearts Scavenger Hunt
The Disney Parks – especially EPCOT – have a history of honoring less popular IPS in the form of scavenger hunts for kids and families to enjoy as they walk around throughout the day. With the recent DuckTales hunt opening at EPCOT, Walt Disney World seems poised to continue this tradition, so why not do one based on Kingdom Hearts?
IX – Kingdom Hearts Store
Disney Springs features a variety of stores dedicated to individual franchises and IP, so perhaps one centered around selling Kingdom Hearts merchandise would prove successful, especially given just how much merch is out there for fans of the games.
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X – Kingdom Hearts Meet And Greets
Disneyland has occasionally had Kingdom Hearts characters appear in the Past, so it would be a snap to create costumes inspired by Sora, Riku, Kairi and other original characters from the games, plus versions of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in their game-specific costumes for Walt Disney World.
XI – Kingdom Hearts Music at Disney Springs
Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada has produced chart-topping theme songs for the three main Kingdom Hearts games, so it wouldn’t be out of place to hear these fun tunes as part of the music mix at Disney Springs (and other places in the Parks that don’t rely on a themed musical bed).
XII – Kingdom Hearts Easter Eggs
Though we may never get an entire Park, land, or ride based on Kingdom Hearts, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t see a few Easter Eggs hidden here and there! If a Hidden Mickey can find its way onto any given attraction, then a random Organization XII robe, an outline of a keyblade, or an animatronic who looks suspiciously like Sora might sneakily do the same.
XIII – Kingdom Hearts Merchandise
This one we’re almost certain to actually see! Given the popularity of Kingdom Hearts, there’s always going to be some Disney Parks visitors who spy merchandise from the game series and feel the need to impulse buy. Since we’ve already seen bits of KH-inspired merchandise appear at the Parks in the past, it’s a sure thing that at the very least fans will be able to snag an occasional Sora Funko Pop! or a pin of Mickey Mouse in his Organization XIII robe. It may not be an entire Kingdom Hearts theme park, but it’s better than nothing!