princessandthefrog_web.jpgMIAMI — The Epic Hotel on South Biscayne Boulevard in Miami served as a playground last week for video game enthusiasts of all ages.

Participants on Sept. 17 got a sneak preview of the Wii games that Disney Interactive Studios will release this fall, including one of the most anticipated releases, The Princess and the Frog.
The game is inspired by the upcoming premiere of the animated film by the same name. The film hits theaters on Dec. 11.

The film, an ethnic twist on the classic theme of a princess who kisses a frog, begs the question, "Will he turn into a prince?’’

The game, scheduled to be on sale around Thanksgiving, provides Disney fans with a sneak preview of the story line surrounding Princess Tiana, voiced by Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose. Tiana, who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, is introduced as an adventurous girl who pursues her dreams and evolves before audiences as a determined, goal-oriented young woman.

Game tour participants got the Wonderful World of Disney treatment as they crowded the hotel’s Parker Room to get a glimpse of not only The Princess and the Frog, but also other games that will be released as part of Disney’s Holiday showcase.

The games include the three-dimensional fossil-based Spectobrobes, the flight-adventured Tinkerbell and The Lost Treasure. Other games include music specials Disney Sing It: Pop Hits and JONAS (based on the Jonas Brothers), Toy Mania and Disney’s A Christmas Carol.

While guests enjoyed free food and beverages at the video game presentation, Disney representatives personally greeted them, answering any questions they had about the games and often grabbing the controllers to play along.

The Princess and the Frog for Nintendo Wii features 25 replayable mini-games, and was designed  based on 1920s New Orleans scenery, including the French Quarters and Bourbon Street.

Gamers are able to join Tiara on her adventure with seven other functional characters as they play jazz instruments, fly through the Louisiana Bayou, collect beads from the Mardi Gras festival, and fight off the game’s evil witch doctor, Dr. Facilier.

"The Princess and the Frog video game is a fun, delightful adventure containing characters and themes that will resonate with people everywhere," said Craig Relyea, senior vice president of global marketing for Disney Interactive Studios. "The Princess and the Frog

Sarah Browning, a 10-year-old who attended the presentation, took a moment from playing "Spicy Gumbo," which allows gamers to cook traditional New Orleans cuisine, to speak to the South Florida Times.

"You have to stir the spoon in the pot to make [the gumbo] spicy," Sarah said. "You have to go real fast ‘cause the judge wants the gumbo to be real spicy, so the faster you go the more points you get and that’s how you win."

Each tour participant got a goodie bag full of Disney paraphernalia and two of the featured games to take home and practice with friends—just in time to add to their holiday wish list.

Disney representatives said the tour was important not only to ensure that the games were user friendly, but also to promote family entertainment.

Disney Associate Brand Manager Stephanie Meyer, who served as a representative for Disney’s A Christmas Carol, told the newspaper that the 2009 Interactive showcase invites a new generation to connect with stories and characters in a fun interactive way.

"A Christmas Carol is a classic tale that has been loved by many throughout the world. Like the upcoming film, Disney’s A Christmas Carol by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, the game will provide hours of entertainment and help bring the family together during the holiday season," Meyer said. "This keepsake from the movie will provide hours of festive entertainment and is destined to be an instant classic for A Christmas Carol fans, who want to experience this thrilling adventure like never before."

The 2009 Disney Interactive Showcase will be distributed to stores throughout the nation this fall, mostly during the month of November.

The Princess and The Frog game will be officially released on Nov. 17, just in time for the shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving.

The game is available on Wii for $49.99, and on Nintendo DS for $29.99. The PC version costs $19.99.

Brandyss@MSN.com
exposes families to a rich, cultural world of music, cooking and customization set in the enchanting location of New Orleans and The Bayou."