Our initial plan for 2010 was to hold just one big 10th Anniversary MouseAdventure event at Disneyland and one MouseAdventure World Explorers event at Walt Disney World. After all, players who attended the post-event gathering after the spring event almost certainly heard me repeatedly deny that there would be a second Disneyland event this year. And really, that was the plan...
Yet before the spring events even took place, my partner-in-crime Joe Stevano had already designed a logo for a potential Halloween game, and several MouseAdventure crew members had already started tossing around ideas for trick-or-treat quests (and in fact, I think this game's Villains Henchman quest was written during the Anniversary game).
It seemed that the crew was as eager as the players to have another Disneyland event this year, and so I found myself contacting our Disneyland event manager one June morning to see if—just maybe—the Paradise Pier Hotel might have ballroom space for us for a fall event. It took another month to be be sure that we could pull off this second game, but on July 17, at MousePlanet's 10th Anniversary party, we announced MouseAdventure Holiday: Trick or Treat.
...and thus it came to be, that on Sunday, October 17, 700 players gathered to see what devilish tricks and treats we'd devised for them.
Ater posing for the traditional team photos and showing off their clever team T-shirt designs in our Halloween T-shirt parade, master of ceremonies Andrew Rich started the pre-game welcome by honoring those players who had just walked as part of Team MousePlanet during that morning's CHOC Walk, helping raise nearly $12,000 for Children's Hospital Orange County during its annual fundraiser.
Andrew also acknowledged the 24 players from 11 teams who had gone to Walt Disney World in Florida just a week earlier to participate in our MouseAdventure World Explorers II event at Disney's Animal Kingdom park. It was then time to get down to the very serious business of reviewing the event rules, before releasing the teams into Disneyland to solve a series of chilling challenges.
When conducting events as large as MouseAdventure, we like to send our teams scattering throughout the park as soon as possible to prevent huge masses from congregating in the same land—so their first challenge was to locate the MouseAdventure station in one of four designated "neighborhoods" to receive their quest packet. Teams would also return to these stations a little later in the day to "trick or treat" for bonus quests.
While some teams said this event felt longer to them, others said it went by in the blink of an eye—but by 6:00 p.m., all teams had turned in their answer sheets. The MouseAdventure Holiday format does not have same-day grading, and teams knew they'd have to wait a few days for the results, but some teams immediately began to compare notes with other teams, while other players went home to start talking about the event on our MousePad discussion forum. After a grading snafu, we announced the final official results on Thursday night, motivating some teams to begin plotting their strategy early for improving their scores in the Spring 2011 event.
Teams scoured Main Street, U.S.A. to look for answers to nine questions, each corresponding to one section of a cut-up photo of the pumpkins that decorate the street. By correctly answering all nine questions and transferring the corresponding image into a grid, teams created a drawing of a specific Main Street pumpkin. For their final answer, teams had to identify the shop or restaurant on the ground floor of the building of that pumpkin's location.
Most teams solved this quest after answering just a few questions, but two questions gave teams the most trouble:
One member of each team was asked to search the Disney Gallery for answers to 10 questions about the concept art in the Day One Disneyland exhibit, then use the answers to fill in a crisscross puzzle grid. Certain letters in the grid were highlighted, and the player had to unscramble those letters to form a five-word question.
This was one of two quests that had to be solved by just one member of a team. The rest of the team was able to work on other quests while they waited, and clever teams used the time to tackle trivia or work on other puzzles. In an effort to prevent overcrowding in the small gallery, we allowed only 15 players in at a time. Teams that solved this quest earlier in the day could do so with no wait, while teams that put it off to the end of the day found themselves waiting in a line to get into the gallery.
While decoding the solution was fairly straightforward for most teams, finding the actual answer proved more difficult. Quite a few teams went to Frontierland to look for the answer at the actual Golden Horseshoe building, and in the process completely overlooked the vintage postcard on display right in the middle of the Disney Gallery. Some teams found the postcard but had trouble reading the small letters, and incorrectly wrote "Blue Foot Sue" on their answer sheets.
At least one team was knocked out of the running by answering "Pepsi Cola." Pepsi was a sponsor of the Golden Horseshoe Review, and its logo was blurred out of the postcard photo. Although we were impressed that teams could decipher a digitally altered logo... it wasn't the right answer.
We sent teams to ride the Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction to find out which gifts are given each day during the 13 days of Christmas according to the tarot cards in the seance room. Using that data, teams used a our own version of Oogie Boogie's wheel to decode a question.
It seems something always manages to slip through during our testing of the event, and none of our crew noticed that the sign outside the Haunted Mansion actually reads "Days TO Xmas," not days " 'til." Because of this ambiguity, some teams actually told us how many days there were until Christmas, 2010 from the event date (69 or 70, depending on whether Christmas day itself was counted). We accepted both of these answers.
Teams had to sail the Spanish Main to find 10 words with an "R" in them somewhere in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Then it was a simple matter of unscrambling the indicated letters to reveal the hiding place of a fictional sweet treasure hidden by Jack Sparrow.
Players needed sharp eyes to find all of the words. The word most teams missed was "proceeds," found at the bottom of the poster in the auction scene. It seems that two teams tried to solve the puzzle without all of the necessary letters, and answered "In a drum set."
It's surprisingly easy to get your apple a day at Disneyland, and we asked teams to find the price of a list of apple treats sold around the park, such as Bratwurst with apples, a sliced caramel apple, a bag of sour apple balls, and frozen apple juice. Teams then used those answers to solve a drop-down puzzle to reveal a question.
The text on the sign, found outside Pooh Corner in Critter Country, confused some teams. It reads "Mt. Lebanon, Col., Co., N.Y.," which is abbreviated for "Mount Lebanon, Columbia County, New York." Quite a number of teams mistook the abbreviation for county and wrote "Colorado" on their answer sheet. We accepted both answers. Some sharp-eyed teams found the same sign in a shop on Main Street, and saved themselves a walk to Critter Country.
We erased words from 17 photos taken inside the Elias family home in Innoventions, and sent teams to find the missing words. They then use those words to solve a cryptogram.
Teams had to match photos of 13 doorknobs with their corresponding Toontown location. We also gave teams drawings of the treats each location was handing out during trick-or-treating. When teams matched a doorknob to a location, they were instructed to cross out the image of that candy from a grid. When the puzzle was completed (and turned sideways), the name of a Toontown location was visible in the grid. For the final answer, we asked teams to tell us what year that location was established.
Many teams wrote "Toon Park" on their answer sheet, and not the established year as requested by the quest instructions; an error which cost at least one team a first-place finish.
Each team got to select one member to network with other teams to gather data to solve this puzzle. The designated player wore a name badge that identified them as one of 10 Disney Villains, and received a stack of that villain's business cards printed with an encoded phone number. As teams encountered other villains, they exchanged business cards until they had all 10 cards. Then teams used the encoded phone numbers to reveal a question.
Quite a few teams stopped decoding this puzzle once they reached the word "tour," and assumed the answer was the price for the Happiest Haunts Tour ($64), not the Ultimate Experience version as requested.
Teams could visit the MouseAdventure stations in each "neighborhood" to trick-or-treat for one of four bonus quests. When each team arrived, they were invited to pull a button out of a Mickey Mouse pumpkin pail. If the team pulled a button marked "Treat," they received the bonus quest and could begin to solve it, or move on to another neighborhood. If the team pulled a "Trick" button, they had to complete an extra task before receiving their bonus quest.
One member of each team had 60 seconds to examine a painting of Walt Disney and over 60 Disney characters on display near the exit of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. They they had 2 minutes to write down as many characters as they could remember. The highest score recorded for this quest was 37 characters. The most common wrong character listed was Pluto, followed closely by Tinker Bell, and two teams wrote "Treasure Cat" on their answer sheet. We also found a bunch of non-Disney characters in the answers, including Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Bugs Bunny!
New Orleans Square
The Disney Villains get all of the credit (or blame) for their deeds, but almost every villain has a henchman. We gave teams a word search grid and list of villains, and asked them to find the names of their henchmen in the puzzle. The remaining letters spelled out the question.
We incorporated our traditional "Find Someone" task into this puzzle. Teams who found MouseAdventure crew member Tracy somewhere in New Orleans Square received a list of the henchmen's names, making this quest pretty easy. Some teams reportedly solved the quest without the additional help.
Teams had to search Fantasyland for signs with double letters (like "Carrousel" and "Restrooms), then use those letters to solve a twisty counting puzzle.
Several teams answered Mother Lothel, which indicated that they'd found the wrong wooden directional sign.
As soon as Captain EO returned earlier this year, some of the MouseAdventure crew started plotting ways to use the tribute attraction for MouseAdventure. We provided teams with a series of lines from the script, and asked them to watch the movie and identify which character spoke each line. By correctly matching character to line, teams revealed a series of words that they then had to unscramble to form a question.
We gave teams 16 photos taken around Disneyland, and asked them a question about each. Eye Spy is one of our favorite parts of MouseAdventure, and we really love reading the creative (as in wrong) answers teams come up with when they just don't have any idea where to find the real answer.
Trivia has always been the most difficult part of MouseAdventure to grade, and the need to quickly grade as many as 10,000 answers by hand has usually required us to present trivia as a live challenge at the start of every game, and make teams turn in their trivia answer sheets before they enter the park. During smaller events with fewer teams we've occasionally given teams the option to do trivia in a controlled environment in the park, usually on the train or on the Mark Twain. We've always needed to get those sheets back much earlier than teams have wanted to hand them in, simply so we could grade them in time to announce the winners later that day.
For our Day at the Park event last spring, we borrowed a scoring machine and gave the teams all day to complete the trivia. The teams loved having the additional time, scoring took almost no time at all, and we decided to purchase the machine to use at future events. For our Trick or Treat event, teams were given the trivia quest as part of their game materials, and turned in their machine-readable answer sheet at the end of the day. Teams again loved having so much more time to answer the trivia questions, and because of this, the scores were unusually high compared to past events. The highest Trick-or-Treat trivia score was 44 out of a possible 49 questions (one question was discarded due to an error), for a score of 88.
In what had to be a painful lesson, three teams got zero credit for trivia because they failed to write their team number anywhere on their answer sheet before they turned it in.
This may have been the least-hidden quest ever used in a MouseAdventure game, and more than half of the teams found it. As teams visited each MouseAdventure neighborhood to claim their Trick or Treat buttons, sharp-eyed players noticed that a word was written on each ear of the Mickey Mouse pumpkin used to hold the buttons. When the eight words from the four pumpkins were unscrambled, they formed the question, "What is the name of Jack's ghost dog."
Andrew Rich created four album of photos from the event, so you can see even more of the fun. Thanks to Jeff, Brad, Steve and Ken for taking the team photos, and to all of the crew members who contributed hundreds of candid photos.
The total possible score for this event was 608 points, including the hidden quest. Sixteen teams answered all of the quests correctly, and so the winning teams set themselves apart based on their trivia and eye spy scores, as well as their scores on the Face Painting bonus quest.
We awarded first, second, and third place in the Returning and New teams division, and first and second place in the Family team division. The winners of MouseAdventure Holiday: Trick or Treat receive a prize package of Disney books, DVDs and CDs, to be delivered directly to their homes.
First Place – San Diego Mouse Catchers, with 555 points
Second Place – Heffatooies, with 547 points
Third Place (Tie) – Club Googlie Bears, with 545 points
Third Place (Tie) – ImaginEars, with 545 points
First Place – The Disneyland Challengers, with 400 points
Second Place – Shang's Army, with 382 points
Third Place – The Rat Pack, with 372 points
First Place – There's a Snake in My Boot! with 473 points
Second Place – The Rainbow Ridge Riders of Anaheim, with 431 points
Full rankings by division, team number ,and overall event rank are posted on our MousePad discussion forum (link).
When some of the crew (and by that, I mean Joe) started seriously talking about adding a Halloween game this year, we knew the biggest challenge would be trying to do all of the normal event production and preparation while many of the regular crew were 2,000 miles away hosting the Walt Disney World event. This game quite honestly would not have been possible without the efforts of my husband Tony Phoenix, who stayed in California instead of joining the rest of the crew in Florida and did much of the work that usually requires a much larger crew to accomplish the week before an event. With the help of volunteers Steve and Vicki Kiskamp and Tracy Screeton, Tony printed and prepared the sign-in packets so they would be ready for the event, and began the task of printing the game packets and related materials.
Joe Stevano and I wrote most of the quests for this game, with a nod to Andrew and Jennifer Rich for the Villains Henchman quest and several ideas that turned into quests. Our resident trivia expert Shana Lewin once again provided the questions for this event. Joe was responsible for the layout and design of the event materials, including the event logo which he designed way back in April when I was still firmly rejecting any suggestion of a second Disneyland game this year.
Two groups of volunteers tested the quests a month before the event, and then tested everything again one more time just before the game. In no particular order, and at the risk of forgetting someone, thank you to David Perry, Amanda Smith, Sheila Hagen, Shana, Jeff Moxley, Andrew, Jen, Steven Ng, Steve, Helga, Danie, Chris, Matt, Chelsie, Ken, and Theresa.
More than 20 people helped crew the event on game day, and we really needed every single one of them to help staff four stations and three interactive quests. Many thanks to Tony, Sheila, Shana, Jeff, Andrew, Jen, Steve, Adrienne Krock, Stephen, Helga, Chris, Matt, Tommy, Chelsie, Ken, Theresa, Tracy, John, and Laura. Brad and Christine popped in on game day to help with photos, and were a lifesaver when we needed additional staff to monitor one quest site.
As always, thanks go to the team at Disneyland for helping with the event, and to MousePlanet sponsor Howard Johnson Anaheim Plaza Hotel for offering discounted rooms for the MouseAdventure crew and players.
MouseAdventure is planning three events in 2011, though dates and details are still being worked out among the crew and with Disney. We will post event and registration dates as soon as we confirm them, but those announcements may be as little as 90 days before the event.
In 2011, we will once again recognize teams that compete in a MouseAdventure event on each coast. To participate in this challenge, teams must register for the Spring 2011 event in Disneyland and the Fall 2011 event in Walt Disney World, and the majority of players from the team must participate in both events. Prizes will be awarded to the team with the highest combined score. Additional details will be provided prior to the start of registration for the Spring 2011 event, but this is a good time to start talking your team into a trip to the other coast!
Keep reading MousePlanet for more information about our upcoming events—we post MouseAdventure updates in our weekly Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Updates, as well as on the front page of our site. We also strongly encourage you to sign up for our MouseAdventure mailing list to receive updates about future events as they are announced. 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.
We're always working to make MouseAdventure better and more fun for our teams. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us, and be sure to point your teammates here so they can make their voices heard too!