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.
Disney geeks know that July 17 is Disneyland's birthday. It's the day in 1955 that Walt Disney officially opened his theme park to park guests in attendance and those watching a live television broadcast.
For this year's 59th park birthday, I won passes from Disney Parks Blog to attend "...a sneak peek at some of what’s in store for the resort’s 60th anniversary celebration next year." While many Disney fan and news sites speculated about what would be announced, as it turned out the sneak peek was simply the introduction of a new diamond-themed logo and the announcement of a photo contest granting its winner and guests a trip to Disneyland. Those websites were disappointed, but I wasn't.
I would've gone to Disneyland on this day anyway, regardless of winning passes from the Blog. As a Premium annual passholder, I can go in anytime! But attending as guests of Disney Parks Blog definitely had its privileges, as my friend and I joined other Blog guests in receiving complimentary 1-day park hoppers; Blue section World of Color FASTPASSes; exclusive upfront viewing for the park's 59th birthday celebration; an exclusive reception with refreshments and photo ops with Disney characters; and a couple of amazing keepsake gifts!
We arrived early on July 17th to the park to check in at one of the ticket booths. After showing my ID, we had wristbands put on us and received the passes, voucher and schedule shown in the photo above. Getting park hoppers caught me off-guard. For some odd reason, I had assumed this event was exclusive to annual passholders. But I was wrong. It was open to all Disney Parks Blog readers, who aren't necessarily passholders or if they were, might've been blocked out today. Curse my snobby privileged AP mentality! (This is where a smiley face with a tongue sticking out would go. But this blog isn't a text, is it.)
At the park entrance, one turnstile at the far left was marked for "Special Guests". We entered through there and was asked to stand to one side to wait for a Cast Member to escort us into the park. We didn't wait at all as one arrived at that moment and walked us through the berm tunnel into the town center, where we could see park guests already crowding in the space in front of City Hall. The pathway onto the street was clear tho', because it was roped off. But as we approached with our escort, a Cast Member there unhooked the rope to allow us in. We were told we could stand in one of two taped off areas on the street and sidewalk.
To be honest, I was a little confused at this point. I didn't know what we were going to be seeing today and how it would be presented. So having the whole unexpected VIP treatment upon arrival and being escorted to a taped off area on Main Street was kind of surreal. But once we saw the new 59th birthday display set up on the top steps of Main Street Station (that's the photo at the top of this blog), the pieces started to come together in my head. The entire street along the front of Main Street Station was roped off and regular park guests were filling up in street areas around us and behind the flag pole, saving their spots to see the 10am celebration. We, as it turned out, were gonna see it from the front row.
Well played, Disney Parks Blog!
Over the course of the hour we had to wait for the event that this week's Entertainment Times Guide called "Celebrating Disneyland's 59th Anniversary", my friend and I took pictures around the area and chatted a bit with the other guests that we stood with. Noticing a red carpet behind us with a microphone standing on it, we started speculating what it was for. Someone next to us said it represents the spot where Walt Disney stood when he gave his dedication speech. A Cast Member overhearing us added that we should return here later at 2:30 p.m. to hear the speech played at that time.
Finally, the event started on time at 10 a.m. as the Mayor of Disneyland arrived at the podium to begin the festivities. He introduced the Dapper Dans and, for this performance, their piano accompanist to perform a number of signature Disneyland songs including "The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room" and "It's a Small World". Their five-song set got the crowd warmed up and in great spirits! Then, the mayor returned to briefly speak a bit about the success of Walt's theme park before welcoming 59 Disney characters and park Cast Members who entered town center and scattered themselves on and around Main Street Station for the next part of the celebration, leading the park guests in singing "Happy Birthday".
After that, the Mayor of Disneyland unveiled a new logo for Disneyland's 60th Diamond Anniversary with a flourish of white doves. And then the ceremony closed with the 59 Disney characters and Cast Members dancing to an upbeat version of "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" that's been performed at past park birthday celebrations. I gotta say, overall it was a fun fifteen minutes. And having front row privileges really made it that much better.
Afterwards, after chatting with some very jealous friends who were at the park too and found me after the ropes dropped at the end of the show, it was off to the Opera House where we would learn what this reception thing was all about. Our wristbands were again our exclusive pass to get in, and once inside we found the front exhibit area crowded with guests. There were also refreshments found for the taking: ice water, lemonade, and three flavors of cupcakes. Cast Members were everywhere to help with clearing trash off the tops of a few tall tables that were set up here and there and to replenish the drinks and cupcake trays when they were empty. Looking over the crowd, towards the back area where the entrance to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is, we saw lines going around the Capitol building model ending in photo ops with Elsa, Anna, Mickey and Minnie. I'm not usually one to make any effort to get my picture taken with a Disney character, but knowing how much of a grind it is these days to get pictures with the popular queen and princess from "Frozen" at the park these days, I felt I couldn't pass up this opportunity. I mean, now I can tell my friends I got my picture with Elsa and Anna and didn't have to wait three hours in line to get it! (If this blog were a text, this is where a smiley face with a huge grin would go.)
After my cupcake, lemonade and pictures with Disney royalty were taken, it was time to head out. Earlier while we were waiting in line for our photo ops, I received a text from my friends outside.
"We know what your gift is! Awesome wish we could have gotten one."
My friend had seen large boxes on a tray near the entrance when we walked in but didn't see what was inside. Now it was time to find out.
As we rounded the corner to exit, we were greeted by a very dramatic scene. There were indeed gentlemen carrying trays near the entrance/exit, and the opening past them that normally led to the Mad Hatter store was now curtained off with displays set up inside. We walked up to the gentlemen and one of them asked for our gift vouchers. Handing them to him, we each received a bagged cookie with the new Disneyland 60 Diamond Celebration logo printed on it. Then we continued into the new display area, which felt a little like a jeweler's shop, where another Cast Member handed each of us a blue box with the same new logo printed in silver on top. He opened it to show me what was inside and that's when my jaw hit the floor.
It was a large, beautiful crystal with the Disneyland 60 logo etched on top. I didn't realize until I got to my car later and my friend pulled it out of the box, that the crystal is in the shape of a diamond! We also received a Disneyland coupon book filled with actual FASTPASSes that we could use in both parks today only. The Cast Member explained that there was a colored ticket on top and a matching white duplicate ticket underneath each colored ticket. The duplicate is the one we could show at any attraction today to use as a FASTPASS. That way, if any were used, the colored tickets would still remain to give the coupon book its original appearance. Of course, you know what I was thinking when my brain managed to understand what he was saying as I was still working to pick my jaw up off the ground. That there was NO WAY I was gonna violate this sweet new Disney collectible by tearing any pages from it! Silly Disney Cast Member.
Dazed and thrilled, we left the Opera House feeling euphoric over the gifts we received and the great, great time we were enjoying today, all compliments of Disney Parks Blog.
There was only one hiccup to our otherwise exceptional day.
We decided to hang out until 2:30 p.m. so we could enjoy Walt's speech then as we were told by that Cast Member. We spent our time in between having lunch at the French Market, enjoying jazz music by the Royal Street Bachelors, and uploading our day's pictures to Instagram.
At around two, we started heading back to Main Street, U.S.A. Halfway down I realized we hadn't heard any announcements overhead stating the Walt Disney speech would be played soon. Then I remembered the traditional time his speech is replayed is 4:45 p.m. So why 2:30 p.m. today? Then I realized we had already heard the speech. It was played during this morning's birthday celebration.
I went to City Hall to ask about it again. It was now 2:20 p.m. But a Cast Member there also said it would happen at 2:30 p.m. So my friend and I waited.
There was a small gathering of guests including a few we recognized from standing with them this morning at the celebration. Mickey Mouse came out, but only to pose for pictures by the flag pole and sign autographs. Now why is Mickey signing autographs? Shouldn't he be part of the Walt Disney speech event?
After twenty minutes we finally gave up. It was the only downer, but only moderately so, to what was otherwise an incredibly - yep - magical day. But even if it somehow had turned out to be a lame, boring day, we were still cognizant of the fact that we were leaving the park with diamonds!
You can see the rest of the pictures I posted that day over on Instagram and also see those plus a few extras all embiggened in a new gallery I have on Flickr.
Looking forward to Disneyland's 60th!
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!