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Players petition Disney to save VMK

Disney's plan to close its three year-old VMK virtual world has been met with a petition by disappointed fans

Disney's recent decision to close an MMO launched in 2005 as part of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary has led to a petition from users seeking to keep the virtual world open.

According to WKMG in Orlando, Florida, more than 11,000 people have signed an online petition to stop the closure of Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom MMO.

A statement on the site said that VMK will be shut down on May 21.

"It exceeded our expectations in terms of performance to the point that we left it open much longer than originally anticipated," Disney told the Orange County Register.

"All good promotions must come to an end, so we have decided the time is right to close VMK. We plan to offer free online promotions that will continue to engage our parks and resorts guests in new and entertaining ways on the web."

VMK included representations of the five lands of Disneyland, with online games, avatars and rooms that could be customised, and moderated chats with other players. For a time, Disney ran a trivia game inside Disneyland park and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World that rewarded people with codes to unlock outfits and furniture online.

"There is a reality of running an online community that at some point it grows beyond the owner's control and becomes their responsibility," wrote John Frost of the Disney blog - although he admitted to never playing the game.

Sulake, the developer of Habbo, is credited with developing VMK.

Disney currently offers other online MMOs and community sites such as Pirates of the Caribbean Online, ToonTown Online, and Club Penguin.


Mark Androvich