The theme of MousePlanet's 17th MouseAdventure event was A MouseAdventure Mystery, a "whodunit" case based on a fictional theft from the new Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar at Disney's California Adventure. Over 500 players gathered Sunday morning to solve a series of cases that would help them determine WHAT was taken, WHO committed the theft and WHERE the thief hid the stolen item. Our Advanced players also had to solve two additional pieces of the puzzle: WHEN the theft had been committed, and WITH the help of which accomplice.
Teams line up to sign in for the MouseAdventure Mystery. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
The format of the MouseAdventure Mystery forced us to limit the number of players who could participate in that event, and so we also offered a new version of the MouseAdventure: 101 event we first introduced in Spring, 2008. 250 new and returning players solved classic MouseAdventure quests inside Disneyland Park.
It would be impossible to write about this event without mentioning the wildfires that blazed in Southern California all weekend, and there were points on Saturday when we seriously considered postponing the event. The weather forecast indicated that the winds responsible for the blowing smoke and ash would calm on Sunday, and the game proceeded as scheduled. Thankfully the skies above the Disneyland Resort dawned surprisingly blue and sunny Sunday morning and remained clear through most of the event. Even without the visible reminder, the fires were never far from the minds of some players and crew, and our normally-strict "no cell phone" rules were relaxed so participants could receive calls from friends and family.
Teams who carefully read the pre-event confirmation e-mails had the opportunity to receive a card they could exchange for a Free Hint during the event. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Players in the Advanced and Basic divisions reported to the ballroom of the Paradise Pier Hotel Sunday morning to collect their sign-in packets, pose for team photos, briefly size up the competition and learn more about the Mystery. After a quick primer in the investigative techniques they would need to crack the case, teams were released into the theme parks to begin their investigation. Then it was time for the MouseAdventure 101 teams to sign in, collect their event materials and attend a brief new-player orientation before being released into Disneyland to try their hand at MouseAdventure.
MouseAdventure teams donated enough toys to fill the Toys for Tots van. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
MousePlanet began what we hope will become a MouseAdventure tradition, and partnered with Toys for Tots to host a holiday toy drive. Marines from the 5th Battalion 14th Marines, were on hand to greet players and receive their donations, and generous MouseAdventure players donated enough toys to fill the Toys for Tots van. One of the Marines even expressed interest in forming a team to play in our Spring event.
We hoped that holding the event in November would help avoid the legendary MouseAdventure heat wave, but Sunday's 90+ degree temperatures were more than some teams could handle. We advised teams to remember that it was "just a game," but our more competitive players were determined to crack the case. All three events ended at 4:00 p.m., and teams were free to seek out refreshments and air conditioning while the MouseAdventure crew scrambled to grade a mountain of answer sheets.
The Basic division teams receive instruction on how to solve the Mystery. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
This is the part where I get to brag about my husband a little bit. Several years ago it was suggested that the speed and accuracy of our grading routine could be vastly improved if we were to use bar-code scanning technology to score answer sheets, but actually implementing the process was easier said than done. My husband Tony Phoenix and my event co-planner Joe Stevano decided that this event, with its multiple answer sheets and varying point values, presented the perfect opportunity to streamline the scoring process, and the results were better than I think even they had hoped.
Many MouseAdventure teams design special team hats and shirts for the event. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Grading went so smoothly that we already had preliminary results by the time teams began to reassemble inside the hotel ballroom at 5:00 p.m. for the post-event mixer, and we actually ended up waiting for the rest of the teams to return at 6:00 p.m. so we could announce the MouseAdventure Mystery winners as scheduled. Participants in the 101 event were invited to attend the post-event gathering, but knew that their results would not be available until about a week after the event. For some of our crew members, this was the first time they'd ever seen the full award ceremony, and they enjoyed watching as event host Andrew Rich announced the winners of the team T-shirt, and introduced the contestants in the team mascot competitions.
After announcing the winners and distributing a stack of door prizes, we thanked the teams once again and closed the case. MouseAdventure Mystery: SOLVED!
The Fall 2008 MouseAdventure presented teams with a mystery within a mystery. Teams received an evidence bag and a color-coded Dossier containing three different Cases as they left the Paradise Pier Hotel, and were directed to return to with their answer sheet as soon as they had solved their first three cases. Once they completed their Dossier and returned their answer sheet to MouseAdventure Central, they received another Dossier with three more Cases, plus one additional Element case that would help them solve one piece of the MouseAdventure Mystery. Confused? So were our teams, but they quickly got the hang of it as the investigation continued.
Basic teams had three Dossiers (9 cases) and three Elements to solve. Advanced teams were assigned two additional Dossiers (6 more cases) and two more Elements to investigate. A brief description of each case, along with the correct answer and common pitfalls, is provided below.
Mystery in the Treetops
Case #: DCA0001
Location: Redwood Creek Lookout Station, DCA
A Basic division team tries to solve a phonetic word search. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Teams used the phonetic pronunciations from a chart located next to the radios found in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area to solve a provided word search.
The Case of the Phantom Footprints
Case #: DCA0002
Location: Redwood Creek Trail, DCA
An Advanced division team searches for clues in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Teams identified a series of provided animal tracks, then located the corresponding sign around the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area to solve an evil-paragraph type puzzle.
Many teams took this quest one step too far, and provided "Sleepy" as their answer.
The Case of the Nautical Note
Case #: DCA0003
Location: Coast of Paradise Bay, DCA
They don't know it yet, but this team is well on their way to winning the Advanced division. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Teams tell us that they love MouseAdventure because it makes them pay attention to details they've never noticed before, and sometimes we come across something during the process of writing the event that makes us feel the same way. We decided to use the flags strung above the S. S. Rustworthy as the "key" to a puzzle, and pulled up an online nautical flag alphabet to see if there were enough letters in the strand to serve our purposes, or if we were going to need to assign new letter values to the flags. We were surprised and delighted to discover that the series of flags above the ship actually spells out the phrase "North South East West stuck in paradise is the best." While teams give us a lot of credit for writing clever quests, we have to thank the Imagineers for providing such a detail-rich environment to mine for our puzzles.
The requested answer was the price of "one whole" Big Kahuna Pizza, which is sold at nearby Pizza Om Mow Mow. Over half of the teams that answered this quest misread the question and gave us either the name of the pizza or the price of a single slice.
A team returns to MouseAdventure Central to receive a new Dossier of Cases. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Once teams solved the three green cases, they could use those answers to eliminate sections on a map of the former Disneyland parking lot. The remaining section was Owl, and, by overlaying the provided parking lot map onto the current map of Disney's California Adventure, teams would discover that this section of the old parking lot is now the home of the Grizzly River Rapids attraction. Teams were instructed to search the northwest quadrant of that area for the thief's hiding place, and were told "you’ll know when 'you’ve found it.' ”
The Case of the Missing Clue
Case #: DCA0004
Location: Paradise Pier, DCA
A Family division team takes a break to devise a strategy. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
This quest used a combination of sets and letter elimination. Once teams found the missing item in a series of sets scattered around Paradise Pier, they eliminated the discovered letters from a provided business card. The letters remaining on the business card were unscrambled to reveal another set.
Every event has one quest that worked just fine during beta testing, but proved much more difficult on game day. Many teams had had difficulty finding the Coke cart across from Toy Story Midway Mania that displays faux copies of Modern Priscilla and Love Story magazines, or could not spot the city decals on the surfboard backboards of the basketball carnival game outside Pizza Om Mow Mow. We expected these items to be tricky but not impossible to find. We were also surprised at how many teams missed the large attraction signs mounted on the wall outside Ariel's Grotto, but found the much smaller lettering surrounding the sign outside the gift shop just across that walkway. The most common incorrect answer to this quest was "Sunglasses"
Mystery over Mulholland
Case #: DCA0005
Location: Mulholland, DCA
The ability to safely navigate through crowds while reading from a clipboard is a valuable MouseAdventure skill. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
We took one last opportunity to use the Mulholland Madness mural for this fun elimination game. Teams were given a list of codes, laws and statutes, and asked to identify which one was not depicted in the mural.
Teams that didn't look at the entire mural missed the shark fishing depicted on the side nearest the former Burger Invasion location.
The Case of the (Dis)appearing Plates
Case #: DCA0006
Location: Condor Flats, DCA
An Advanced division team tries to put seven surveillance photos in order. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Teams were given a series of "surveillance" photos of the wall of license plates in Condor Flats, along with a series of witness statements. By placing the surveillance photos in chronological order and using the statements of the reliable witnesses, teams could determine which specific car was stolen from a nearby town on September 22.
This was probably the most difficult quest in the event, but once teams identified the 6 reliable witness statements and sorted the photos in order, they needed only to determine which county the plate that appeared in the 5th photo came from to solve the case. A number of teams submitted "Porsche Convertible" as their (incorrect) answer.
Several teams hope to pick up a few clues during a performance of the High School Musical show. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
The Orange Dossier proved to be the most challenging to the teams, but those who correctly solved all three Orange Cases had the information they needed to determine WHO stole the item. Teams first had to determine where the suspect in the "The Case of the Missing Clue" could next strike, and a sign near the Souvenir 66 stand indicated that the "Next Souvenirs" were 30 miles away. From that number teams had to subtract the last two digits of the vehicle code in their answer to “Mystery over Mulholland,” and were left with the number 9. We then directed teams to go to the beginning of the attraction with that
number (as listed on the DCA Guide Map) and find a “map.” The map in question is a diagram of the Sorcerer's Workshop that is installed on a wall at the entrance. A series of dots on the diagram indicates a path through the attraction. Moving forward on that map the number of “spaces” as the last two digits of the license plate of the answer to the “The Case of the (Dis)appearing Plates” (75), teams would locate Ursula's Grotto.
During testing one team completely overlooked the map, but discovered that you can walk forward 75 paces into the attraction and still end up in Ursula's Grotto.
The Case of the Tower's Travelers
Case #: DCA0007
Location: Hollywood Tower Hotel, DCA
Luggage stickers on the Tower of Terror Fastpass machines formed the basis for this challenging puzzle. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
One member of each team was sent to examine the stacks of "luggage" that make up the Fastpass machines outside the Tower of Terror for details that will help solve a modified logic problem.
The most common incorrect answers were Stacks 2 and 6. Teams that wrote out the list of decals present on each stack of luggage generally did a better job in solving this case.
A Trivial Mystery
Case #: DCA0008
Location: Golden State Park, DCA
MouseAdventure staffer Shana conducts a "line up" in Golden State Park. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Description: This was a repeat of the live trivia quest that teams enjoyed so much during the Spring event. One person per team joined a "line up" to demonstrate their trivia knowledge.
The Case of the Hollywood Hideout
Case #: DCA0009
Location: Hollywood Pictures Backlot, DCA
A Basic division team examines buildings in the Hollywood Backlot area. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Description: Teams compared a series of photographs of architectural elements to identify landmarks in the Hollywood Backlot District.
Many teams provided the name of the Argyle Building instead of the street address listed on the map we provided in their evidence bag.
A Basic division team looks for characters on the front of the Animation Building. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Using a set of numbers uncovered through solving the three Blue Cases, teams solved a word puzzle to determine what had been taken. To complete the puzzle, teams needed the answer to “The Case of the Tower’s Travelers” (7), the first two numbers and the second two numbers of the address of the answer to “The Case of the Hollywood Hideout” (60) (20) and the two building numbers of the locations directly across the street from where the witness from “A Trivial Mystery” worked (1) (6) (3) (2).
A basic division team stops for a quick refreshment before tackling their next Dossier. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
In a fun MouseAdventure tradition, players who found Shana before the event could answer a trivia question and receive a Crazy Straw. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
The Case of the Creole Castaway
Case #: DL0001
Location: New Orleans Square, DL
Description: Teams answered true / false questions in New Orleans Square.
One team was quick to alert us that we had misspelled the last name of Mme. Sarah McWhorter from the the Musique Des Anges plaque in the Angel Courtyard, without noticing that her first name is actually Sally.
Tomorrow(land)'s Mysteries Today
Case #: DL0002
Location: Tomorrowland, DL
Description: Teams solved a crisscross puzzle using answers found in Tomorrowland, then unscrambled the highlighted letters to form a two-word location.
The newspaper text that surrounded this puzzle was written simply so we could highlight the words "Hidden" "Tunnel" "In" "Fantasyland" (which we hoped would give teams a little help in unscrambling the phrase), and had no bearing on the case itself. But now you know how loopy the MouseAdventure writers can get when trying to finish a quest after Midnight.
Mystery on Main Street
Case #: DL0003
Location: Main Street, DL
Description: This whole Dossier was based on answering a series of questions in different lands, and the theme continued onto Main Street. Instead of unscrambling letters, teams simply needed to fill in the provided chart and read the resulting word.
This was the easiest case in the Advanced event, and every team that attempted it answered it correctly.
There's no easy way to explain this quest without props and visual aids, but essentially teams were given a transparent grid and directed to cross off specific marked spaces by following a list of instructions. (For example, "Eliminate every box that contains the letter “W.” "Eliminate every box that contains a number evenly divisible by 5.") This left a grid with just 7 clear spaces, and by placing this grid over the solutions to the "Tomorrow(land)'s Mysteries Today" and "Mystery on Main Street" quests, teams would discover a 7-letter name.
The Case of Fantastic Photos
Case #: DL0004
Location: Fantasyland, DL
An Advanced team tries to identify which photos were taken in Disneyland. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Description: This was a twist on the "Disneyland / Not Disneyland" quest we introduced in the Spring event. Teams had to determine which of 17 photos were taken in Disneyland - the others came from Walt Disney World.
In chatting with teams after the event, it seems that many had a hard time finding the grate in the pavement outside of King Arthur Carrousel
The Case of the Cryptic Call
Case #: DL0005
Location: Toontown, DL
Some teams brought masks to protect them from the ash and smoke from local fires. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Description: Teams had to search Toontown to determine who a particular phone number belongs to, then learn who their downstairs neighbor is.
The phone number 4-7883 belongs to Dr. Drillum. The number is found on an appointment reminder card pinned to the board next to the desk in Mickey's house. Dr. Drillum's office is above the Toon Town Dog Pound. Unfortunately this complex was surrounded by a construction wall days before MouseAdventure, so we had to mock up a Toontown Police Blotter to provide teams with the information they needed to determine the identity of Dr. Drillum's neighbor. Some teams decided that they needed to listen to the Toon Town Police Phone to solve this case, which reportedly created a long line for the phone. A handful of teams answered "Roger Rabbit," and many more answered "Goons."
A number of teams insist that we should accept Goons as the answer for this quest, because the provided Toontown Police Blotter has an entry that mentions that Goons broke into the Dog Pound. However, sharp-eyed teams will notice that the date on the Police Blotter is one day prior to the date on the Case they were asked to solve. The Goons may have been causing a disturbance the day before, but that has no bearing on the case at hand.
The Case of the Exorbitant Expenses
Case #: DL0006
Location: Adventureland, DL
Description: Players had to search Adventureland and determine which item on a provided receipt was not advertised for sale there.
The item was "Safari Supplies", but the quest asked for the dollar amount as shown on the receipt.
After teams solved the three Red Cases, they were directed to find a "secret informant" somewhere on Main Street and obtain a disk that would help them solve this case. Teams who found our informant received a "secret decoder" disk that helped them crack a complicated cryptogram. The revealed phrase was "The night of Miley's Sweet Sixteen birthday," and the question asked for the exact date.
MousePlanet is now offering copies of the Fall 2008 MouseAdventure 101 for readers who want to try their skills on their next trip to the Disneyland Resort. To avoid giving away too much information to future players, we've presented just the answers to the MouseAdventure 101 quests.
Quest A – 1: Can Do Attitude
Quest A – 2: A Coalescing Image
Quest B – 1: Vowel Trouble
Quest B – 2: A Leisurely Stroll
Quest C – 1: In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Scream
Quest C – 2: Most Evil Paragraph
Quest D – 1: Undo The Dip
Quest E – 1: Wrought Iron Agony
Mouse Ear Mixup
Goofy Eye Spy Numbers
Results of the MouseAdventure Mystery Basic and Advanced divisions were announced at our post-event award ceremony, and those winning teams who stayed for the gathering could select their prizes from our fabulous prize table. Winning teams that could not stay for the awards (and may just now be learning that they placed), will be contacted by e-mail next week, and prizes will be sent directly to them.
The New Club 55
Third Place (tie)
Third Place (tie)
Fifth Place (tie)
Still Getting Used To Our Programming
The Metzger Family
Results of the MouseAdventure 101 event are posted below. MouseAdventure 101 was originally conceived of as an event for new teams, but proved to be very popular with returning teams this time around. The top three returning teams all submitted nearly-perfect answer sheets, and in the end, Mickey's Rebel Alliance claimed first place by being the first to return a winning score. Team Curry completed the challenge just a few minutes later and received second place, an impressive feat considering they were late to the event and received their quest packet about 10 minutes after the other MouseAdventure 101 teams. Winning teams will be contacted by e-mail next week, and prizes will be sent directly to them.
Mickey's Rebel Alliance
Mad Madam Mims
Kids of the Kingdom
Team Mascot competition
Team T-shirt competition
MouseAdventure continues to grow and improve with each event, but we know we can always do better. All players are encouraged to take a brief survey about the Fall 2008 event, and share your suggestions for improvement.
Over one thousand staff and crew hours go into designing, testing, producing and hosting each MouseAdventure event. The staff and crew clearly aren't doing this for money, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their time, effort and dedication to this "little" event that has grown completely beyond what anyone envisioned. The majority of credit this project goes to my husband Tony Phoenix and event co-creator Joe Stevano. Tony was responsible for the amazing new grading system that allowed us to handle the largest number of answer sheets ever in a fraction of the time manual scoring methods would have required, and more importantly, for keeping me organized during the chaotic planning process.
Joe is the type of person who can take a simple word puzzle and turn it into something that looks like it was ripped straight out of a real newspaper, and this event would not look nearly as polished as it does without his efforts. He spent endless night and weekend hours designing, printing, folding, stuffing and preparing the event materials in the weeks before the event.
The work of MouseAdventure actually began over the summer, when Andrew and Jennifer Rich hosted a planning meeting at their home so we could try to figure out how to organize what was originally conceived of as a 500-player game of CLUE. Though they were unable to attend the event in person, Alex Stroup, Lani Teshima and Steven Ng were instrumental during that meeting, and their contributions can be seen in the finished product. While Joe and I were focused on writing the Mystery, Amanda Smith and David Perry volunteered once again to write and run the MouseAdventure 101 event.
Every quest in every event is tested at least twice in the parks by MouseAdventure staff and crew. The beta testers for this event included Andrew and Jennifer Rich; Jeff Moxley, Adrienne, Kevin, and Spencer Krock; Sheila Hagen; Amanda Smith and David Perry; Tony Phoenix; Bev and Tracy Screeton; plus MousePlanet reader Helga, returning for her second stint as MouseAdventure crew. Lisa Perkis and Stephanie Wien helped proofread and test some of the quests from their homes.
The event day was staffed by Andrew and Jennifer Rich; Adrienne and Kevin Krock; Shoshana Lewin and Adam Fisher; Sheila Hagen; Stephanie Wien; Amanda Smith and David Perry; Tony Phoenix; Joe Stevano; Jeff Moxley; Karl Buiter; plus returning crew volunteers Bev and Tracy Screeton and Helga and Liana. It's also important to recognize the effort of Jeff Moxley in creating a registration system that could stand up to the demand of over 200 teams trying to register in such a short window. This was the first time we had attempted to schedule registration to open at a specific time, and it worked perfectly. The Basic event sold out in just 44 minutes, with the final two teams slipping in just .027 seconds apart. The entire event sold out in just over 12 hours, a new MouseAdventure record.
Once again we want to thank the Disneyland Resort Special Events and Park Operations departments as well as Disneyland Resort Catering & Convention Services. We would also like to thank MousePlanet sponsor Howard Johnson Anaheim for offering a great MouseAdventure rate to our players and staff again this year.
Our next MouseAdventure event will be held in Spring 2009 at the Disneyland Resort. Event format, park and pricing have yet to be determined. We will post the event date and registration dates as soon as we confirm them, but that announcement may be as little as 90 days before the event. Keep reading MousePlanet.com for more information—MouseAdventure updates are posted in the weekly Disneyland Resort Park Update. You can also sign up for our NEW MouseAdventure Mailing List to receive updates about future events as they are available. Please note, this is an opt-in only mailing list, which means that we have not already added the names of former MouseAdventure players to this list. If you would like to receive these updates, you will need to sign up for the list.
Our inaugural Walt Disney World MouseAdventure is tentatively planned to be held sometime in the Fall of 2009. No additional details are available at this time, so keep reading MousePlanet.com for more information, or sign up for our MouseAdventure Mailing List to receive updates as they are available. We are not planning a formal event at the Disneyland Resort in the Fall of 2009, but we may organize a little social event for those MouseAdventure teams that can't make it to Orlando and can't bear the thought of going a whole year between California events.