Summer Fun & Games - and "bits" & "jujus" - at Disneyland: "Legends of Frontierland" and "Adventure Trading Company"
When the Disney Parks Blog announced in July that "a new merchant is opening soon for a limited engagement beginning August 1", this was after Disneyland had already debuted "Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush!", an interactive experience where park guests are encouraged to participate in a role-playing game (RPG) to collect rewards, earn "bits" and choose sides in a land feud between Frontierland and Rainbow Ridge. A friend and I played it for about an hour the week it debuted.
Adopting the alias "Sasparilla Joe", I was stunned to find my game name on a wanted poster only a half hour later. Arrested by the local "law" (who were cast members in on the game), I got to duel for my freedom with the fellow Disneyland guest who turned me in. After my successful shootout, which was a round of rowshambo or Rock-Paper-Scissors, I was earned bits in the amount of the reward written on my wanted poster. I could continue playing to earn more bits and buy land in Frontierland or Rainbow Ridge with it.
I enjoyed the RPG, but I couldn't see myself spending too many hours at the park playing this. It was fun updating friends on Instagram during the game. I've shared some of those pictures below.
Now back to that new merchant post I first mentioned.
So when the Adventure Trading Company set up shop inside the Indiana Jones Outpost store in Adventureland, I thought it might be another RPG and ignored it for the first few weeks. However, when the Disney Parks Blog savvily updated that the final shipments of Jujus were soon arriving to the park, the idea that I would miss getting even one of them to own at least piqued my collector-itch enough to give it some more attention.
I discovered a great, informative article about the Adventureland experience on MiceChat which explained that nine "jujus", which were small, colorful totems one a leather, beaded loop, were available to purchase for either $5 or $7.50. Three required nothing more than outright buying them, but the rest involved receiving a game sheet of some sort with your initial purchase that provided instructions on how to ultimately receive your selected Juju. The activities ranged from looking for items around the park, taking specific pictures, calling a special phone number, and telling a joke at the Jungle Cruise exit.
The idea of spending over $50 to get them all was a turn off for me right from the start. Seeing pictures of them, I didn't think they were worth that to get them all. I admit I also didn't want to work all that hard and think of a joke to tell either. So after reading the last blog and MiceChat article, I decided to invest in getting just three Jujus, two of which involved food (natch!) and one that would allow me to experience one of the quest activities.
The pineapple Juju was my first and the easiest to get and just about provided The Most Pleasure of all the Jujus I collected. I just had to go the Tropical Imports fruit stand in Adventureland and buy a new food item, a "This Side Up" Pineapple Parfait. The Juju was packaged with it. $7.50 later, first Juju collected.
The parfait was DELICIOUS! I hope Disneyland plans to continue offering them here after this experience concludes.
The other two Jujus I sought out were the eye of Mara Juju, because - duh! - Indiana Jones, and the tiki mask one, because it involved going to Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel to enjoy a new drink! When I asked for these two Jujus at the Outpost, I was given two envelopes containing materials I had to work out in order to earn them. I paid $5 for the Mara quest but was given an envelope for the tiki mask juju for free. I'd pay the $7.50 for that Juju when I made my way to Trader Sam's and finally ordered the drink.
The eye of Mara quest packet included a line drawing of a map of Adventureland with a space in the lower right corner to do a rubbing from a tablet I needed to find in the land. Honestly, I had a hard time finding the tablet. I didn't find it until I saw other players hover around a spot near the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction and realized "There it was!" Turns out the tablet has a code on it. It's the same code to decipher the messages written on the walls of the Indiana Jones Adventure queue line. Disney fans know it as Mara Font or Mara's Eye Font. I used it to decipher the message written on my map, which asked me to find another tablet in Adventureland, which I found and decipher the coded message on it, which provided the answer to a question I was asked back at the Outpost when I returned there to earn my Mara juju.
It was more elaborate than I expected, but definitely doable without much frustration. It was fun and definitely in the vibe of an Indiana Jones type of adventure. A worthy exercise to earn an Indiana Jones totem!
Finally it was time to work out what I needed to do to earn my third Juju. I needed to find three icons that were displayed around Adventureland. These icons were new to the land and on crates that blended it with the look of Adventureland but still stand out. I found the first one at the Jungle Cruise exit fairly quickly. A friend who joined me later helped to figure out that the second one had to be near the Enchanted Tiki Room, and we found that one easily too. Then we both figured the final one had to be near where Indiana Jones is prominently displayed. This one took a while to find for us, but I finally found it when I looked through a Cast Member's legs! She was inside the Indiana Jones Outpost standing in front of some crates which had the icon stamped on it.
Finding all three icons, I wrote down the phrases that were printed next to them on the crates, which according to my quest sheet were the three ingredients needed to make JuJuJuice, the drink I could only order at Trader Sam's.
Trader Sam's was busy when I got there. No seats were available at the bar and waitresses were busy clearing off tables as guests were finally leaving them. I found a small table to sit at, but it took a while for me to get some service. But finally I did and I ordered my JujuJuice. She asked for my quest sheet to confirm that I indeed found the correct three missing ingredients. Then shortly thereafter, I got my third and final Juju of the day. It also came with a button. The JuJuJuice was tasty, but man, way too much ice!
So, having completed what I set out to do today, I was very happy and had a lotta fun while collecting them. During the day, I posted these pictures on Instagram and heard back from some Disney fan friends asking me what they were all about. I explained what I had learned about them and most importantly, that the supplies were apparently limited. That got some of them to start playing and collecting immediately. A few days later I met some of them who showed me what they were picking up.
I now got to see some of the other Jujus that I didn't pick up. What I haven't mentioned before is that these Jujus look and feel really nice in person. They're well designed, detailed and painted. They're cool! And I didn't realize that was the case when I initially just saw pictures of them.
And that's when my downfall began.
As I saw my friends' Jujus and how they were getting excited at the prospect of collecting them all, my collector instinct kicked in again. Damn.
And I could feel the urge to deposit more money into the Bank of Disneyland but quick!
Deciding to give in and grab a few more, I spread my search for the remaining six Jujus over the next two days. I played this inner monologue game with myself that by getting three Jujus one day and then holding off on the final three the day after, maybe some will have run out and then I can save some money. It was silly really, and they didn't sell out. So I ended up spending a total of $53.50 to acquire all nine Jujus.
Oddly enough, from the start, the one Juju quest I was least excited about participating in was the one that turned out to be one of the most fun to do. To earn the piranhahaha Juju, I had to tell a joke to a Jungle Cruise cast member. Despite being an actor, it's not necessarily fun or easy for me to be an extrovert on call. Add to that, of all the jokes I've been told, I never ever remember them. So I had to come up with one. And I did. And I thought it was pretty darn good too! It was appropriately Jungle Cruise-y, included a piranha, and the Cast Member I told it too really enjoyed it!
So having collected the set, I thought I was done. Then, a friend let me know that the park was secretly offering a tenth mystery Juju. Last year at D23 Expo, this Juju experience was originally beta-tested with the attendees there, and they earned a skull Juju. My friend said this was the mystery Juju and that I needed to follow Disneyland on Twitter to learn when adventurers were called to earn this bonus one.
Well, it was in the last two weeks of August that I collected mine, and I hadn't noticed any tweets from Disneyland about a special quest in that time. But Disney Parks Blog again comes to the rescue! In their last post about the activity, they told folks that there was an opportunity to earn a "special mystery Juju" on Friday, August 31!
I am so there!
But so were hundreds of others! When I got there in the morning, there was a line stretched from the Outpost all the way down through Adventureland, out of Adventureland and just across the entrance of the Enchanted Tiki Room. My first thought was, "This is insane!" My second was, "Damn ebayers!"
Seeing that line, all the past fun I enjoyed collecting the first nine Jujus became a distant memory. Now it was work because I had to wait in an hour long line to pay for an envelope and then wait in a second long line to fulfill an activity to receive the Juju. And I learned this limited edition Juju was available to anyone. No need to have purchased any previous Juju.
Taking a deep breath now.
So I waited an hour or two before getting in the line. When I got in it, the end of the line ended at just the Adventureland Bazaar, and my wait in line only lasted twenty minutes. For my five bucks, I got an envelope containing instructions on the outside and a sheet of paper inside.
The second line queued into Aladdin's Oasis. Looking into the area from the entrance, I could see several lines of cord strung all around the inside patio with scores of these sheets clipped onto them. Seems like Disney marketing found a clever way to collect data about this experience from all its participants. I also saw Cast Members inside, some just talking with guests, others interviewing them on camera.
On my sheet, I chose the "illustrate" option mentioned in the instructions and did a sketch of my adventure collecting every Juju on this August journey.
I waited for this line to die down too before finally getting in it. I asked a Cast Member how long the experience inside would last and I was told it'd take no more than 10-15 minutes.
When I got in, I was among a small group of eight joining two Cast Members who asked us to tell the stories we'd written down...but with a twist. As one started to tell his/her story, the next person had to segue their story at the end of the previous one. It was fun listening to some of the park guests get really into it creating original stories. When it was my turn about midway through our group, I showed them I'd just drawn a picture. But as a way to have me tell a story, she suggested I tell my joke. I was happy to, and everyone liked it -- tho' not as much as that Cast Member I first told it to.
After the final story was told, we turned in our cards and each received our skull Juju.
I later spoke to another friend who claimed his skull Juju that afternoon. His experience to earn his was different than mine. He had to also tell a story, but his group also had to decipher a message displayed before them. The message needed to be decoded using the Mara Font again. In addition, everyone in his group scored a treat that I really wanted to have again. They each got free mini cups of the "This Side Up" Pineapple Parfait. DAY-UM!! Color me jealous.
So there you go. I got a few bits and a whole lotta Jujus from Disneyland this summer. Despite the crazy long line that put a big drag on what had been a lot of great, impulse fun previously (and smacking of just giving eBay businesses an easy way to make great profits for a few hours' time while robbing folks who want one for themselves the cheaper $5 way), I had a lot more fun collecting the Jujus than I ever expected.
I hope Disney does this again. I hope if they offer another bonus Juju, that they ask for proof of getting the previous Jujus first. And I really, really hope the "This Side Up" Pineapple Parfait becomes a regular item they sell at Tropical Imports or elsewhere in Disneyland!
You can see a few more pictures from my hunt on Instagram.
Thanks for the feedback and the "likes" for those of you who enjoyed last week's first installment of my articles about Blu-rays. I really enjoyed putting it together, and there'll be lots more entries like that that I think you're find helpful and interesting.
This week I didn't find any new retailer exclusives to point out. But there are a couple titles debuting on Blu-ray this coming Tuesday October 16 that some of my friends might like to know about., in particular those who are of the Disney persuasion and those who are classic Looney Tunes enthusiasts.
The Disney Blu-ray release is Pete's Dragon. I've yet to see this, and I can already hear my friends yelling at me as they read this that I "...must watch it NOW!" It's a combo pack meaning it includes both a Blu-ray Disc and a DVD, the idea being that for those who haven't yet added a Blu-ray player to their homes can conveniently begin building their Blu-ray Disc library in advance of ultimately getting one yet still watch the DVD on their current equipment.
This also brings up an interesting fact about certain combo pack titles. Sometimes, studios will release it in both the shorter Blu-ray-sized packaging and the taller DVD-sized packaging. That's the case Disney chose here with Pete's Dragon, releasing it DVD-size format as well. This lets those same folks just entering the world of Blu-ray but who really, really want to have their DVD cases on the shelf be all the same height have their wish!
The new Looney Tunes release is the second three-disc collection of Warner Bros.' classic cartoon shorts (It has the red box cover design shown above). Volume One (with silver and blue package design) was released last November in two editions, a standard three-disc set (center image above) and a "Limited and Numbered Edition" in a box containing bonus swag goodies (beauty shot above right).
Beyond that, I wondered what other Blu news I could talk about today. Then an idea finally came to me last week as I was reading through discussion threads at Blu-ray.com's forum boards. Someone had posted information about a recent Blu-ray release that influenced my decision to buy it, even tho' I'd already known about the release months ago and decided to pass on it. The new info, especially in the way it was shared, made me second-guess my original decision. It was also then that I realized that that experience would be a great chance to show you a tool that Blu-ray enthusiasts use today, something I'm sure many of you didn't know about. It involves making videos and posting them on YouTube.
Unboxing videos are made by online news sites and Blu-ray enthusiasts all over the world. What they do is shoot video while opening a fresh, new Blu-ray Disc release that they've just received. Sometimes goofy, always geeky, and often done by amateurs aspiring to make a reputation for themselves among niche YT viewers, they're meant to not only share the enthusiasm they have for their latest and greatest addition but also provide some insight to fellow fans about new and distinctive releases who might be wondering how a particular title is packaged or what exactly is included inside. The video below is a brief (which is rare that it's so brief!) example of a typical unboxing.
Pretty basic, but because this was a non-standard type of packaging, fairly informative too. If you were on the fence about what you were getting when you looked at the non-standard, bulky, oversized Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set, and the beauty shot of it shown at left didn't really answer all your questions about it, this video becomes very helpful.
Now, what about a different type of Blu-ray release. Say, one of those big huge box sets, like the ones Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has done for Gone with the Wind or 20th Century Fox for The Sound of Music? You can find beauty shots of their contents also, but like in above video wouldn't it be more helpful if someone opened it up for you to show you how it looks inside and see them holding all of the swag items in their hands? That post I mentioned earlier featured an unboxing video of a box set and after watching it, I immediately became more enamored of it.
And what was that set? It was Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Collection. But not the standard release that can be purchased anywhere. It was an exclusive box set, a retailer exclusive actually, available only from Amazon UK.
That's the Amazon on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the United Kingdom, in an entirely different continent. An international retailer exclusive!
The ABCs of Blu
Now here's something about buying Blu-rays and DVDs from another country. They don't automatically play in PS3s and other Blu-ray players made for the good ol' U S of A. The international home video industry follows region coding standards, a practice started years ago with DVDs and continued with the introduction of Blu-ray Discs. It has to do partly with licensing rights. Rights for different regions of the world may not necessarily be owned by the same distributor. And to keep folks honest, video players around the world are manufactured differently enough to allow Blu-rays and DVDs for one region to play only in players built for, say, Region A but not for players built for Region B or Region C. In fact, for Blu-ray Discs, there are only three region codes and they are Regions A, B, and C. For you regular international travelers, it's just like you having to buy a completely new thingamabob because the plug for your original thingamabob that you can use here in the US won't work in those European electrical outlets. They simply don't play nice with each other at all.
So, back to the Indiana Jones set and Amazon UK. I could buy the standard collection here in the US and have no doubt whatsoever that I can play the discs and watch them just fine. But theirs is a limited edition version with really cool swag included, not available from any other retailer except Amazon UK. Here is that unboxing video I watched. And it's pretty tempting to own...if only I knew it would play in my PS3.
Cool, huh? Especially that diary!
To the left is the beauty shot I found earlier this year of the set. I knew about the set's existence early enough. But my inclination at that time to not get it was swayed not just by the possible region code conflict, but also from someone's comment on the forum boards that for the extra money, we're just getting a lot of extra paper. Made sense. And that helped convince me at the time to keep my money in my credit card.
Then, last week I watched the above video and I was screwed.
Or maybe not! Perhaps it being released in the UK, it might strictly be a Region B disc, and not play on US's Region A players, ending further buying consideration permanently. I did some checking, and at first Blu-ray.com's listing for it identified it as "Region B (untested for A,C)". "Untested" refers to the fact that there are some Blu-ray titles that are manufactured to play in all regions; they're Region Free. So now, there was a possibility that the version from the UK might play in my PS3.
Now there are Blu-ray players that actually play BDs from all regions. They play Region A discs, Region B and Region C. My PS3 is not one of them. But there was bound to be someone on Blu-ray.com's forum boards who not only has an all regions Blu-ray player but would go ahead and test it for the rest of us wanting to know and share their results. (One of the reasons why I love visiting the forum boards!) In fact, I added a post myself to ask someone to do that. I went to sleep, and the next morning, I saw the following posted by "srinivas1015" as a direct reply to mine.
I just tested my UK set. It's Region Free. I set my PowerDVD software to region A and it played the disc perfectly. I also tested it in my Region C Playstation 3 and there was no problem.
Great googly moogly! I went to Amazon UK's listing for it and coincidentally their info was updated now stating it as ""Region Free" there too.
I did some quick exchange rate conversions online and to make matter worse - or I guess, better - it turned out that even with international shipping, the Amazon UK set was about the same price as buying the US version here - usually priced around $79.99 - with sales tax added.
So the fact is I'm eighty bucks poorer now. The set is already on its way via DHL and due to arrive to me before the end of the month. But I guess for all the digging around I did related to this holy grail-like quest to find my answers about a famous archeologist's records, I tell myself it was meant to be. But along the way, I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to unboxing videos and region codes. And if you feel like exploring on your own, there are many more unboxing videos to be found on YouTube.
As a postscript, I end this article with the only other Amazon UK exclusive collector's set in my collection. I bought it when it was released in 2010. That time, it was the metal OUTATIME license plate that I couldn't live without. And was I glad it was Region Free too!
Until next time...
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!