Walt Disney World plans to stop dispensing prizes at its hotel video-game arcades, and Florida’s ban on Internet cafes may be to blame.
Prize redemption counters at the resort’s hotels, where kids turn in game points for toys and candy, are being closed. The hotels and other spots in the resort are also losing claw machines, the joystick-maneuvered games that inspired one of the most famous scenes in “Toy Story.”
Disney acknowledged it is shutting down the redemption counters and claw machines but wouldn’t say why. Some in Florida’s arcade industry, though, say Disney appears to be avoiding the threat of legal action after the state’s 2013 legislation banning Internet cafes. In its wake, opponents of the legislation have sued Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s, arguing their arcade games also violate the broadly written law. Final rulings not been made in those lawsuits.
“I’m sure Disney’s the last place in the world that wants to get accused of operating a gambling house,” said Michael Wolf, an attorney representing the Florida Arcade and Bingo Association.
The law spells out that people can’t win more than 75 cents’ worth of prizes for each game played, and that the games have to be operated by coins. Like many other family entertainment centers, Disney’s arcades are activated by cards. With each game they play, people can accumulate credits on the cards that can be exchanged for things such as Hello Kitty plush toys, Disney princess purses and mini-air-hockey games.
Already, the Note’able Games arcade at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort has gotten rid of its redemption counter. Disney still has the prize counters in five other hotels, including the Contemporary, All-Star Sports, All-Star Movies, Pop Century and Art of Animation.
The Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland Arcade is closing Feb. 8, and games from there will be going into the hotel arcades to replace the ones that issue prizes for points.