The Enchanted Race crowd. Hard to believe that our first MouseAdventure, thirteen events ago, was smaller than this. Photo by Brad LaVerne.
The Fall 2006 MouseAdventure was once again our biggest game ever, bringing nearly 170 teams and almost 600 people to the Disneyland Resort for a day of quests and puzzles. This event marked the debut of a new PhotoAdventure game format and the return of our Enchanted Race, as well as the brand-new post-game Trivia Challenge.
In keeping with long-established MouseAdventure tradition, the event day also featured record-setting heat, with temperatures soaring to 90 degrees. Yes folks, not only does MousePlanet provide great advice for planning your Disney trips, we can apparently also influence the weather.
The event actually began on Saturday, with quite a few teams taking the opportunity to check in during a potluck picnic at Disneyland. This picnic gives players a chance to size up their competition, meet MousePlanet staff and MouseAdventure crew in a more relaxed environment, and earn a few extra moments of sleep on Sunday morning by signing in early.
As soon as the parking structure opened on Sunday morning, the Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure was filled with smiling happy MouseAdventurers. This is one of my favorite aspects of MouseAdventure, because it's so much fun to greet returning players and get a glimpse of the great team uniforms.
All too soon it was time to wrangle the teams into position for group photos, and then to get the games started. The Enchanted Race began when Disneyland opened at 9 a.m.; teams participating in the PhotoAdventure followed at 9:30. The start of the event is something akin to watching confetti scatter in the wind: it's out of our hands, and all we can do is wait to see how it lands.
The "invitational" Enchanted Race is an event designed to pit teams together in a timed race over a large area of the resort in a predetermined sequential course. Open only to experienced teams that have competed in a previous MouseAdventure event, it is probably the most difficult MouseAdventure game format we offer.
With barely half of the teams able to complete the Enchanted Race format when we first introduced it in early 2005, I decided to make this event both shorter and easier. Instead of sending teams through Downtown Disney, into the parking structure and across Harbor Boulevard to the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, we confined this event to the two Disneyland Resort theme parks, and even cut quests from the game to shorten the event time. As it turned out, our revised game proved to be much more difficult than the original.
Teams started on Main Street, where they were sent to answer a series of questions about the area. From there, we told them to obtain Fastpass tickets for Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, and then sent them to ride their choice of the Mark Twain or the Disneyland Railroad to gain the information needed to solve their next puzzle.
Teams quickly found themselves back in Tomorrowland, where they were asked to pit their team's best Space Ranger against a player from another team in a battle to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg. The winning Space Ranger was provided information that would help their team advance; the loser was matched against another Space Ranger and sent back into battle.
While the Space Rangers were off saving the universe, their teammates struggled to locate their next destination from a drawing they had created, which led them to the piles of faux luggage stacked up inside the Main Street locker area. This quest proved to be considerably difficult for the teams, and the event coordinators learned why pre-event testing can never replicate game conditions. When test teams get frustrated, they are quick to ask for help. Not so for our uber-competitive Enchanted Race teams, who went to great lengths to avoid incurring the penalties associated with asking for help.
Once teams opened the correct locker, they received a compass and a set of coordinates that eventually led them to the Enchanted Tiki Room. Several of the teams were able to answer the quest's question based on their memorization of the Enchanted Tiki Room soundtrack, while others enjoyed the opportunity to sit and enjoy a Dole Whip while waiting for the next show to begin.
Who says MouseAdventure doesn't teach you life skills. Thanks to us, quite a few more people now know how far Main Street deviates from magnetic north and how to find A Bug's Land with a compass. Photo by Brad LaVerne.
From the Tiki Room, teams headed into Disney's California Adventure to solve a quick word puzzle and to take zip through Monstropolis. Teams used their compasses again to navigate through DCA to solve their next puzzle. From there, teams took a spin on the Sun Wheel and tried to spot the three event crew members carrying umbrellas around Paradise Pier.
Teams were then instructed to head back to Disneyland, where they got to admire the clever brick sidewalks along Main Street, examine the menu at the Hungry Bear restaurant, and try to tell time using the miniature character statues around the Partners statue. It was at this point that teams once again surprised us by their outright aversion to time penalties.
At the start of the game, we had instructed teams to locate a series of stopped or broken clocks around the resort, and record the times displayed on each. At this last checkpoint, we intended to check their answers and hand them the final information needed to reach the finish line. We warned teams that they would receive a penalty for missing or incomplete answers, but we figured by this point in the race the teams would take any penalties rather than delay their arrival at the finish line. So we were extremely surprised when teams instead opted to go track down any clocks they had not yet found—one team returned to DCA in search of a missing clock, another team spent nearly two hours trying to find them all.
Based on our pre-game tests, we expected that most teams would be able to finish in the seven hours allotted, some in as little as five hours. In the end, just 11 of the 40 Enchanted Race teams managed to cross the finish line by the 4:00 p.m. deadline, and what was intended to be a kinder, gentler game proved to be much more difficult than imagined.
Boy, it's a good thing we decided to save that really evil quest for the next event.
Eleven teams managed to navigate the Enchanted Race in seven hours or less, and each finishing team should feel a huge sense of pride in that accomplishment. That aversion to penalties paid off for some teams after all; the teams crossed the finish line so close together, so the winning teams were those that incurred the fewest penalties along the course. The adjusted finish time noted below is the team's actual finish time, plus any penalty time incurred through assistance, incorrect answers or other game violations.
MouseAdventure Masters team Brother Bears took home their fourth First Place finish, with a final adjusted finish time of 4:07 p.m., proving once again why we only let the Masters teams compete in the harder Invitational events. (Of the other three Masters teams, the Happy Haunts placed eighth, The Denton Affair did not complete the event, and The-Mouse.com was drafted to be event staff) The Pillage People earned second place with a final adjusted finish time of 4:12 p.m., just five minutes out of first place.
Sometimes you just have to stop, sit where you are, and figure something out. Photo by Brad LaVerne.
These results represent a slight change from the winners announced after the event. Team 303, Simba's Pride, led the pack during much of the race and was actually the first team to cross the finish line. Of course, there is one disadvantage to being the front-runner, and that is the possibility that your team will discover an error in the game materials that was missed during all of the pre-game testing. Simba's Pride encountered a glitch in the final question leading to the finish line, and was granted a time credit for the time lost while the error was corrected. That time credit was not included in the final tabulation. Their adjusted finish time was 4:18 p.m., putting them in third place.
Here is the list of all 11 finishing teams in the Enchanted Race, indicating their place, team number, team name, and adjusted time:
Participants in our post-game Trivia Challenge. Apparently the answer was B (or a lot of people got to go sit down). Photo by Brad LaVerne.
The PhotoAdventure crowd. This really is a lot of people, especially when you remember that another 120 were playing a different version of the game. Photo by Brad LaVerne.
For the "open" game this time around we decided to change things up a bit and send our players into Disneyland armed with cameras in addition to their pencils, clipboards, and puzzle solving skills. Eight puzzles eventually lead teams to instructions on specific photographs to take inside the park and they had to try and match eleven provided pictures with snapshots of their own.
The day was hot but many teams took advantage of the extra long playing time (about six hours was available to most teams) to enjoy more rest time and maybe a meal than in previous events. The game also included several rides on several attractions, taking teams onto Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the 50 Magical Years exhibit, Snow White's Scary Adventure, and - for some teams - the Jungle Cruise.
If nothing else you might end up serving as entertainment for various Disney characters. And, according to certain rumors, they might end up providing us with entertainment as well. Photo by Brad LaVerne.
Victories were had when teams found the elusive golfers hiding in the backdrop of one of the Penny Arcade machines, but failures were seen as well as many teams didn't notice that the White Rabbit statue in the Hub has a watch showing 5:05, when they wanted the White Rabbit statue in Fantasyland whose watch shows 5:00.
Scores were generally high and regardless of how well any team did, we hope everybody had a great time just playing. While no teams turned in perfect scores of 73 points, two teams did achieve the next highest possible score of 70 points. The tie goes to the team that turned in first, so team #x049, better known as DF4. DF4 are long time players of MouseAdventure and are now candidates for our Masters category with their second event win (after three wins teams are retired from competition). It is somewhat boggling to me that we've been doing these so long, but DF4 won their first event in the fall of 2001.
DF4 may look sad in this picture (but only because a puzzle told them to), but might they have suspected they were on their way to winning? Photo taken by DF4.
In second place with 70 points as well are The Raiders of the Lost pArk (x027), another well experienced MouseAdventure team. At 67 points were three teams. Sorcerer's Apprentice (x119) get third place; fourth goes to team Club 33 WannaBes (x039), one of dozens of new teams who joined us for this event. The final team with 67, and in fifth place, is Zurg Busters (x022) another new team. It seemed unfair to cut the prizes off at third place when two other teams had the same score (if in a bit more time) so all five places will receive prizes.
Congratulations to our winners in overcoming a whole lot of competition and a whole lot of sun.
Here are the complete results for the PhotoAdventure division for teams who turned in a camera memory card or Polaroid photos at the end of the event:
More teams and more players require more coordination, and this event had the biggest game staff we've used to date. MouseAdventure coordinators always heap a lot of pressure on these people during the months and weeks leading up to game day and they always come through. For this fall's event, I have to first thank my husband Tony, who finds time to tie up all my loose ends. Alex Stroup has come to learn that when I say I'll run an event, I really mean I'll run whatever aspect of it I can't hand back to him.
Alex, along with Steve Kiskamp, Shoshana Lewin and Joe Stevano, were the brains behind the evil quests used in the Enchanted Race (OK, you can blame some of them on me—but only the ones you enjoyed).
All of the quests are tested several times in advance of the event day, and that lovely task fell to Jeff Moxley, Sheila Hagen, Andrew Rich, Jennifer Rich, and Adrienne Krock. Masters team The-Mouse.com accepted our invitation to become MouseAdventure crew members, and Amanda Smith and David Perry, along with Joe Stevano, provided invaluable assistance in the creation and testing of this game. In fact, Joe has so many fantastic ideas for future events that we may just have enough material to last through our 20th Anniversary event...
Jeff and Tony maintained the online registration system, Lani Teshima made the coveted buttons, Andrew graciously served as the "Voice of MousePlanet" during the post-game presentations, and Kenji Luster supplied the staff with radios so we could keep in touch between two theme parks and the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel.
MouseAdventure provides an excuse for many of our out-of-town staff to come to Disneyland for a weekend, and Stephanie Wien deserves some sort of award for traveling here from New York to help out. Shoshana Lewin introduced her boyfriend Adam to the fun that is MouseAdventure, and he seems hooked. Lisa and Emma Perkis, Kevin Krock, Karl Buiter and Steven Ng provided much-needed assistance during the event, and every one of the crew members deserves a huge "thank you" for another successful event. In addition, previous MouseAdventure participant Brad LaVerne, who came to watch the event, volunteered to take candid photos during the event, and Mousefest organizers Jennifer and David Watson joined us for a chance to play PhotoAdventure (and we're happy to report they had a blast).
As MouseAdventure has grown, so has our interaction and coordination with the Disneyland Resort, and our thanks go out to the special event and park operations cast members that worked with us to make this event run so smoothly. I err on the side of caution by not naming names, but they know who they are and I appreciate all they did.
Finally, I have to thank the teams and the players for making this event something I want to do time and time again. This event is meant as a community activity for MousePlanet's legion of readers, and it provides us with an opportunity to meet the people we write for, as well as allow our readers to interact with fellow Disney fans. Your enthusiasm for the event and your support of the staff is incredible, and we are humbled and amazed that you keep coming back for more.
From all of us, thank you for making MouseAdventure the great day at the park that it is. Photo by Brad LaVerne.
A few days have elapsed since the event, which means most players should be able to contemplate their next MouseAdventure experience without various leg muscles staging a mutiny. For those who would like to start planning their next trip, you can make an extremely tentative pencil mark on Sunday, April 29, 2007. Format has yet to be decided, but it's been a while since we've held what some term a "classic" MouseAdventure game, and we have a few ideas up our sleeves. We will make a formal announcement once the contracts are signed with Disney, so please do not book any non-refundable travel until the date is set.
Hope to see you there. Bring your sunblock.
Join in the post-game analysis on our MousePad discussion boards, and let us know what you thought of the most recent event and what you'd like to see in future events. Click here to read the thoughts of your fellow players, and then add your own opinions. We've also set up a survey to help us plan future events. Even if it has been a while since you participated in MouseAdventure, we'd love to hear your feedback. Click here.