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MouseAdventure Winter 2001
ONE | TWO
Our biggest event ever!
Of the six or so MouseAdventures Iāve written (not all of them by that name, but it was essentially the same event), this one seemed the most evil to me. The puzzles required careful attention to directions as well as occasionally some hard thought, not to mention unscrambling and anagram ability. The "Eye-Spy" pictures were particularly difficult. Over all, I felt it was a challenging series of tasks to complete, and I expected a good deal of resistance to the difficulty level. But maybe weāve finally found the magic bullet, since everyone I talked to seemed to have a great deal of fun. And thatās the whole point, which makes me happy. It was a good event.
To start things off nicely, the weather cooperated. Those of you whoāve played multiple events know that weāve shifted the event date around a bit, but weāve now settled into a comfortable April / October routine to avoid blistering sunburns and heatstroke. Despite the heat waves of the past few weeks, today peaked in the mid 70s (though I confess it felt warmer than that at times).
Registration started off with verification of teams and teammates, and everyone involved got nametags, MouseAdventure buttons, and a button of the American flag if they wanted it. This part proceeded smoothly enough, due in large part (ok, entirely) to the management and organization of the event coordinators, Lani Teshima and Alex Stroup. Any of you who participated and felt it went smoothly ö you should thank Lani and Alex. I have nothing but respect and awe for their skill in anticipating the unexpected.
That skill was tested almost immediately. We noticed that the lines to get into Disneyland were extremely long. I asked a nearby tourist how long sheād waited, and she said 30 minutes. Uh-oh, I thought, this is going to throw off our schedule quite badly. They had all the entry gates open at Disneyland, but each line was significantly slowed by having only one bag-checker per line. They need two per line to move things at a reasonable clip. Despite my panic, Alex kept his cool and insisted we wait it out. He was right; all the teams were at the meeting point either on time or at most a few minutes late.
During that time Al and I posed with each team for their complimentary team photo. We were struck, as we are every time, how enthusiastic everyone was. Several teams had created T-shirts for the day, while others wore ones made for previous contests. For the first time, it seemed that those without a team uniform were in the minority, and most teams had come up with a team name. Now thatās the kind of enthusiasm we like to see!
Before long, it was time to explain the rules to the captains. While Alex took care of that, we distributed "Team Challenge" sheets to the rest of the teammates. The object here was to list out five characters from a Disney movie ö and you could only choose from Fox and the Hound, the Great Mouse Detective, or Pocahontas (Poca herself and John Smith were off limits). Not so easy, eh?
With the teams thus duly occupied, the captains moved on to the Captainās Mixer: gathering as many pre-assigned easy questions from other captains as they could in five minutes. A sample question might have been: Name the llama from Emperor's New Groove or How many ghosts inhabit the Haunted Mansion? When the time had elapsed, captains rejoined their teams, and they all worked together until each was ready to hand those in, and get going with the actual quests that make up the meat of the competition.
Teams get a Core Packet they keep with them, which includes a small scavenger hunt, several dozen trivia questions if they registered for the Trivia / Combined category, and a series of closeups from somewhere in Disneyland ö the Eye Spy game. This was handed out along with the first of any "Ticket Book" the team wanted.
There are five ticket books: A Tickets are easiest and E Tickets are hardest. Each ticket book hold three quests. Most of the time, it worked out that each quest would require some form of word or letter unscrambling, and then the result would instruct teams to go somewhere to look up an answer. To keep teams sane, we structure it so that all the quests in one ticket book are done in a single land.
When teams return the first ticket book, they can get any other book they want to work on next. At this first exchange, they also got KeyWord and KeyLetter quests ö essentially minor games designed to get groups interacting out in the park when they encounter each other, exchanging pre-assigned Words and Letters.
Another crisis broke out shortly after noon. Participants were told, after deciphering one particular puzzle, to find out how many books were used to tell the Sleeping Beauty story. All of a sudden, they closed the Sleeping Beauty Castle with no warning. We later found out about the retaliatory air strikes on Taliban targets, and assumed this was a security measure on Disneyās part (after all, the castle is ideal for mischief). Though it was a reasonable precaution, we had to make adjustments to our quests and had to give out partial answers to folks who couldnāt answer the quest.
By 3:00, the event was winding down, and folks rushed to turn in their final packets. We did ourselves proud with a very fast, very efficient system of collecting the multiple pieces of paper from each team. In fact, we moved an amazing 170 people or so through in about 8 minutes (as a point of comparison, most of the high-volume Disneyland rides load about 250 people in 8 minutes on average, and they arenāt collecting sheets of paper and checking them off as received!) Can a MouseAdventure FastPass be far behind?
A belated group photo came next, with the assembled group posing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. While a chore to set up, the picture was worth it. It helped that everyone was patient and good-natured about it!
The work for the Crew began in earnest then ö we had to grade over 2,000 sheets of paper in under two hours! Well, actually, we had been grading all along, as packets came back and exchanged for new ones, but this is always a large undertaking at the end of the day. Still, we were numerous this year, and this was one slick machine of grading. Kudos again to Alex.
There remained only the awards ceremony, which took place at 5:00. Alex kicked things off by presenting Adrienne Krock and Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix with framed certificates, thanking them for their work this summer on the Magical Memories Program (which provided a free day at DCA for over 200 local children). Adrienne and Adrienne were quick to point out that those who contributed their spare DCA passes and money were also to be lauded, as were the event sponsors Mondavi, Rainforest Caf, and McDonaldās. Even Disney helped us make it happen!
The full scores and rankings are now up on the following pages. One by one, Alex called up the top three teams in each category. After the requisite pictures, each team in order was allowed to choose prizes from the most impressive Prize Table. After that, all the teams were invited to pick up their packets, and view the actual results from the game.
Was it a perfect competition? Well, close enough. It was certainly the most frictionless MouseAdventure yet, with only a few problems cropping up, and each was easily and quickly resolved. Everyone seemed satisfied, if a bit tired, with the event.
In case youāve wondered why I went into so much detail in this update about the nature of the puzzles, when usually Iām more vague, there are two reasons. First, we wonāt be publishing the questions, quests, and puzzles online this time, so that we can better protect our intellectual property (I canāt begin to tell you how often Iāve gotten requests to have our product for free!)
Second, and perhaps more exciting, is the fact that the next version of MouseAdventure, currently slated for April 2002, will almost certainly be different in a lot of respects. We're rethinking the formats from the ground up ö we feel itās time to shake things up so as to keep things fresh. Itās all "blue-sky" planning for now, so I wonāt say or commit to more yet. I can tell you, though, that Iām very excited by what we plan to bring to you next April.
Hope you can make it!
(And a hearty thanks to the participants who did make it this time out as always, they made it fun and rewarding to create the event!)
NEXT: TEAM PHOTOS AND RANKINGS
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