MouseAdventure: Reindeer Games
When we announced last fall that the Fall 2009 MouseAdventure would be at Walt Disney World, we expected a little bit of grumbling about the lack of a fall event at the Disneyland Resort. We didn’t expect the level of commotion and distress from many long-time teams who, for various reasons, could not to travel to Florida in November. Although we had no intention of changing our plans for the fall MouseAdventure: World Explorers event at Epcot—which went on to be a great success, with the attending 33 teams comprising 100 players all having a great time—we decided to put together a special holiday edition of MouseAdventure back home in Southern California. This was announced just before the D23 Expo, and we took early registration from Expo attendees before opening up general registration on September 14. Registration proceeded at its usual quick pace, but didn’t actually sell out completely until the very evening of MouseAdventure: World Explorers.
Once we’d announced the event and begun registration, we had to actually create the thing! We quickly discovered that writing a holiday-themed game in September and October is not exactly easy, especially since we planned to base all the quests on holiday-specific decorations and attractions around Disneyland. Still, over the course of several visits to the park, we put together the outlines of what was envisioned to be a smaller, less-intense event. Progress on Reindeer Games, as the holiday event was quickly dubbed, was put on hold as most MouseAdventure staffers journeyed to Florida for the Epcot event and many stayed for MouseAdventure on the High Seas, but once everyone was back home we quickly resumed work, and the final details of the event took shape.
Over on our MousePad discussion board, the traditional good-natured team vs. team sniping was in full force, and it looked like we’d have a good mix of returning and new teams—the latter of which for the purposes of MouseAdventure classification, is one with a majority of new players (two out of three or three out of four). Family teams, that is teams with players under the age of 13, would also be well-represented.
We didn’t count on the epic rainstorm that drenched California, including Disneyland, before and during the event, but as it turned out many of the teams were quite well-prepared for any weather eventuality. After the usual morning formalities—introductions, reading of the rules, team T-shirt contest, and so on—teams were released into Disneyland to pick up their quest packets and begin the event. But not before a special guest stopped by the ballroom…
To prevent overcrowding in a single location, teams were scattered to different areas of Disneyland based on a card in their welcome packet labeled with the name of one of Santa’s reindeer. Teams with a Dasher card were instructed to find MouseAdventure staff at the Moonliner in Tomorrowland, Prancer teams went to Troubador Treats in Fantasyland, Cupid teams to Zocalo Park in Frontierland, and so on. Staff members were waiting at those locations within the park to hand teams their quests.
Joy to the Small World
Teams were given a crossword puzzle with clues related to items on the “it’s a small world holiday” attraction. For example, players were asked to determine the cards making up the base of Alice’s tree, what the prairie dogs are wearing, and whose statue is next to Lilo and Stitch. Colored squares in the puzzle indicated letters that were used to unscramble the color-coded words in the final phrase.
- Solution: The final phrase unscrambled to say, “who presents this attraction?”
- Answer: The recently added sponsorship of Sylvania is highlighted at the beginning and the end of the attraction.
The answer can also be found on the Disneyland park map entry for “it’s a small world holiday”.
A Very Scary Christmas
Jack has decked the halls, and this quest required players to search both outside and inside the attraction for answers to a series of questions. Players were challenged to read questions and note the answers while riding the dimly lit attraction.
- Solution: The numbered spaces under selected were placed in order to spell out the question, “how many people are in the stretching room in August.”
- Answer: Players had to find the copies of the regular Haunted Mansion stretching room portraits that are hanging in the Port Royal shop or the Disney Gallery to count the number of people pictured there (six).
Finally we get a parade quest… and it rains. Unfortunately, that meant that the parade was canceled, making the quest more challenging than originally intended. Had the parade stepped off as planned, teams would have positioned themselves on both sides of the route, having been given two copies of this quest and also given permission to split up for this quest only. As the Christmas Fantasy parade passed by, players would have answered multiple choice questions, with certain answers only visible from one side of the route.
Players were also given the names of regions represented by the wreaths that line the parade route in the small world mall area. Wreaths were eliminated based on the answers to the questions from the parade.
- Answer: Canada. (Due to a mix-up between the beta tested version and the final packet, some teams were told that Mexico was the right answer; credit was given for either answer.)
Mrs. Claus’s Garden
Mrs. Claus is making her special reindeer treats and needs to remember what herbs to use in the recipe. She has a list of 11 herbs, but only 10 are in the recipe. Players were given a series of close-up photos of plants found in Tomorrowland and asked to identify the herb that wasn’t present. As an added twist, the Finnish names for the various herbs were given (after all, reindeer are native to Scandinavia).
- Answer: Inkivaari
The 12 Lists of Main Street
Playing off the classic Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” teams were asked to find items on Main Street, like the one name of the Main Street cinema ticket taker, the two names of horses stabled in the Main Street fire house, the three elegant trains announced by Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad, and so on. Teams then eliminated these words and phrases on a huge two-page word search puzzle, using the remaining words to answer the question.
- Solution: A letter from Harry Houdini to his brother is on display on Main St. When was it written?
- Answer: Christmas 1913
One key to solving this puzzle was discovering that the two pages of the search had to be placed side by side, as some phrases extend across both pages.
The usual code deciphering puzzle got a twist with this quest, where teams were given a series of pictures of the masks in the area around the Enchanted Tiki Room. Teams had to first create a totem alphabet by identifying the masks in order starting with the mask closest to the women’s restroom, working toward the hub and back down the other side. Once teams had their alphabet, they decoded the following phrase.
- Solution: Number of menehune hanging from the Tiki Room building plus number of menu items at the Tiki Juice Bar
- Answer: 8 (3 menehune plus 5 menu items)
Teams that left this puzzle to the later part of the day found it very challenging to see the masks in the dim light around the Adventureland walkway. In addition, the sometimes pounding rain made it more uncomfortable to look up to find masks mounted higher up the fence. Teams were given a description of the menehune, who are small creatures living in the forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian Islands. Some teams counted figures they saw on banners and poles around the area instead of locating only the three figures that hang from the end of the building above the attraction’s exit.
Very Merry Trivia
The original wording of this quest directed teams “over the river” (of America) and “through the woods” (of Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island) to grandma’s house (Fort Wilderness). However, the rain scuttled those plans, and the secondary location of the Hungry Bear restaurant was used instead. Upon arrival, teams surrendered their quest answer sheet and were given a set of questions to answer. Once completed, the team returned the questions and were able to continue on to the second trivia location, which was moved to MouseAdventure Central due to the rain.
Many teams enjoyed the respite from the rain, and used the time to multitask, working on other quests and grabbing a bite to eat.
Do You See What I See?
The usual eye-spy had a special holiday twist for Reindeer Games, including a section for holiday eye-spies in addition to the regular eye spies. In addition, a section for “impossible eye-spy” was added, with points values adjusted accordingly. One of the favorite impossible eye-spies was a figure of Godzilla holding a figure of Tinker Bell in his mouth. Do you know where it is?
The Fine Art of Regifting
Teams were given three randomly selected buttons in their game packets. Teams were instructed to trade with one another to obtain buttons of the same color (red, yellow, green or blue). Once a team had three of the same color, they could trade them in at MouseAdventure Central to receive the “bonus quest” of the corresponding color.
If a team happened to find staff members David and Amanda wandering in the park, they could avoid some of the trading and were given a purple button that would allow them to trade for any color quest.
Christmas Wrapping (Yellow Bonus)
Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pooh and Tigger participated in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. This logic puzzle required teams to determine which character had given what gift to what other character. The key to this quest was finding the five items that were exchanged in the Disneyland stores in order to determine their prices, which was a key piece of information to solve the logic puzzle.
- Answer: Goofy received Tigger’s stocking and Tigger received Mickey’s stocking.
Not A Critter Was Stirring (Green Bonus)
Garlands hang everywhere in the Disneyland Resort during the holidays, and this quest challenged teams to take a close look at the garland hanging on the gift shop at the far end of Critter Country. Individual light bulbs had been removed from the photos, and teams had to first assemble the photos in order, then identify the color of the blacked out bulbs. Teams then picked letters in order from the corresponding color’s column to form a phrase.
- Solution: For whom does Brer Rabbit have a gift?
- Answer: Brer Bear and Brer Fox
The answer was located on a large gift tag attached to a Christmas tree hanging above the entrance to Splash Mountain.
Deck The Halls (Blue Bonus)
This quest required teams to turn a sharp eye skyward, which was hard to do in the rainy weather. Photos of the decorations in New Orleans Square were provided, requiring teams to identify the name of the location where they were hanging (such as Cristal d’Orleans). Numbers above the photos indicated what letter from that location name should be used to form the question.
- Solution: How many frogs are on Tiana’s wait sign?
- Answer: Three (four was also accepted, as the sign also contained the word “frog.”)
Prep & Landing (Red Bonus)
Elves get bored in the off-season, and in their spare time Santa’s helpers created this game to occupy their time. Teams were given a map with an aerial-view outline of ToonTown, with each building marked as one space containing a pair of letters. Players had to move back and forth on the map, following the clues provided to form a phrase. Some of the clues were tricky and required teams to examine items around ToonTown from all angles.
- Solution: Total money in the bank garland
- Answer: $5.27 or 4 zillions samoleans 127 cents
Some teams had difficulty correctly labeling the buildings, while others missed the one dalmatian-spotted ornament that was partially obscured by a bow on the ToonTown Fire Department’s wreath. The bank’s garland had bills as well as coins, and some teams missed the coin that was tucked up on the end facing toward the building.
The Most Famous Reindeer
Teams were instructed to report to MouseAdventure Central at 4:00 p.m. to receive this extra quest. Rudolph likes red lights, and took a series of photos around Disneyland. This set of eye spy photos were best found after dark, although many teams were ready to call it a day at that point due to the torrential downpour.
The Hidden Quest
As has become traditional in MouseAdventure, there was an extra, hidden quest to be found in the game materials. This time, in keeping with our Reindeer Games theme, the quest involved the names of Santa’s eight reindeer. Each of the eight main quests, plus the Rudolph eye-spies, had the name of one of the reindeer printed in the upper left-hand corner. If you placed the quests in order according to the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph) the first word in each quest formed a question.
- Solution: What time is the last Christmas Fantasy Parade today?
- Answer: 6:30
Results for MouseAdventure: Reindeer Games were announced late (very late) on Saturday night, December 19. We did not have our traditional post-event gathering, so winning teams received a prize package of Disney holiday-themed collectibles, books, and DVDs mailed directly to the registering member of each winning team.
There were 605 possible points for this event, including trivia, the hidden quest and four bonus quests. No team had a perfect score, and there were no ties that affected winning positions. We had only one division (one set of quests) but three categories of teams: Returning, New, and Family. New teams are more than half new players, and Family teams include players under the age of 13. We awarded the top three positions in Returning and New and the top two in Family.