Over at the Journey into Imagineeering pavilion at the D23 Expo this year, the Imagineeers were playtesting something new and different that may roll out into the theme parks or resorts eventually. You may have spied their corner booth, the Adventure Trading Company”, complete with an Adventureland theme naturally. The concept behind it is to add a new storytelling element into the way guests buy merchandise. I’ll let the Imagineers explain:
“Playtests are held to “try out” a new idea and help us improve the Guest experience. Today we are playtesting a new storytelling concept that includes an opportunity to purchase limited edition merchandise in a unique way.
The Adventure Trading Company has traveled from the jungles of Adventureland to find the next generation of great explorers. Join us in our Base Camp for intrepid tales. Then you may purchase an “Expo-dition” that will lead you on your destined path to collect a limited edition charm.
If you decide to participate, we may ask you questions during and after your experience. We may also collect your email address to send you a survey. Your honest answers will help us improve our concept. Thank you!”
So what do you think? Sounded pretty neat to me! I decided to embark on this quest just to see what it was all about. To start, I was asked if I wanted to buy a “juju” or charm that they had available for five dollars. I had the option of a crocadile tooth, a tiki bird (unlocked that morning), and there was something else I can’t recall. I went with the tooth. Then I was asked if I was interested in going on an “expo-dition” for another five dollars. Buying into this means that you had to complete a quest before you earned your juju.
Of course there were different expeditions offered to obtain a different juju, such as Courage or Humor… but being an Indiana Jones Adventure fan, I had to go with the Knowledge Expo-dition. I was promptly offered a telegram with special instructions within. The back of the telegram had Maraglyphics! Yes! I don’t even need it.
Up I went to the 2nd floor of the convention where I found a tablet that was waiting to be decoded. The crate containing the table had some fun hidden easter eggs too, (Prof Baxter aka Disney Legend Tony Baxter). The telegrams themselves have nods to Imagineers Rolly Crump and Harper Goff as well.
I transcribed the tablet “YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN – KEEP SAFE THE EYE OF MARA” and was awarded my expo-dition juju featuring the eye of Mara! See, $5 for an Indiana Jones Adventure keepsake ain’t bad right?
Upon returning to base camp within the Imagineering pavilion, you are asked to recount your story to other adventurers and upon doing so, you receive a bonus Storytelling Juju (the skull) completely free and you are then given your Adventurer Name. Since my story included discovering that going on this quest had the shortest lines of the entire expo, I was given the name DISCOVERY DAVID.
But, that’s not all. Upon completion of your first expo-dition, you had the option of going on one more quest, completely free of charge. This quest required even more clue hunting and traveling to my favorite place at Disneyland Resort, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. Upon finding all of the ingredients for Trader Sam’s JujuJuice, you were rewarded the final juju charm: the Trader Sam juju.
If you had fun, you were certainly allowed to return the next day to try the other expo-ditions as well. Adventurers were also encouraged to engage with other fellow adventurers and even trade their jujus if they wished. But alas, I personally didn’t find enough people embarking on this adventure to converse with as there was plenty to see and do at the D23 Expo, but I personally had a great time “playtesting”.
If Imagineering was to bring this to the parks, they would really need to find a way to commit to it so that guests can start it on one visit and still find a way to continue it on their next, even if it was six months later. The charms would need to be something truly special and something worth running around the parks for. If they’re anything like the jujus offered at the Expo, I’m already on board.
Did you playtest with the Adventure Trading Company at this year’s D23 Expo? If you did we’d love to read your thoughts below!
Photography by David Yeh