Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ghost saving

The details promised in my earlier post:

A while back, Disney made a limited edition three-box Haunted Mansion subscription available...once a month for three months, you get a box with various items related to the Haunted Mansion. Each item was part of an alternate reality game; you scan the items with a smartphone app, which then give clues to free the spooks and specters that had been trapped by a mysterious fog. Very cool, very well done.

The boxes included some neat memorabilia: ghost and ghoul card sets and spooky things you did with them to help find clues; a tea cup and saucer set with a subtle Haunted Mansion theme; a shadow box that used your phone to project the singing Grim Grinning Ghosts onto their graveyard busts; a little player piano that tink-tink-tinked the songs from the cardboard strips you fed through; a full deck of playing cards with skulls and ghosts and other eerie designs instead of hearts, spades, et cetera; newsletters written by the ghosts, messages revealed by wiping letters with damp towels or freezing the paper, a Ouija-style board that let you use a heavy bat token to talk with the trapped ghosts, lots of other fun interactive things. Will, Noelle, and I did the boxes together, boggling at the work it must have taken to make it all happen.

Disney also included an additional "in park" bit...with the app and bluetooth, you followed clues and interacted with things at the park. Esmeralda, the gypsy fortune teller, though marked "Out of Order", would talk to the right person (aka, someone with the app) and give them a special reading. She gave you special cards that led you to the trapped ghosts, three in total. One was at the Palm Reader, where you knocked, she knocked back, the curtains moved, and if you followed the pattern of her knocks correctly, she was released and you got to hear her thanks through the app. Another was trapped in a compass by the river; once you got the compass aligned, he too gave his thanks. The third was trapped in a nickelodeon music player in Frontierland...when you walked up, it activated and started playing a cacophony of drums, piano, cymbals, and so on. You raised your hands in front of the player to "get the ghost's attention", then had to wave your arms like you were conducting an orchestra; if you stopped, the music stopped. After a bit, the music changed to the familiar "Grim Grinning Ghosts" refrain, and presto, the ghost is now free.

The icing on the cake was that you got to go to the Haunted Mansion, show a cast member the proper screen on the app, and tell them that you were "a friend of Victor" (one of the ghosts). They hustled you to the front of the line, announced you to the next attendant, and you got to immediately head in. Once there, you were handed off to another cast member who led you right to special cars on the ride...these cars had audio of the happy, free ghosts thanking you for your help. Too fun.

And just yesterday, a final gift from Madame Leota arrived: a lenticular portrait that morphed between your face (using a picture you took when initializing the app) and a spectral creepy ghost/skeleton. A total surprise, and an awesome one (though if I'd known, I would have taken a much better picture when I first used the app four months ago :^D ).

When I first grabbed up the Ghost Post boxes, I assumed they were just standard "loot crates" with a Haunted Mansion theme. I had no idea they were going to be a full interactive experience, and it was a very cool surprise. There were only 999 boxes available, so were were lucky to grab ours, and we are very glad we did.

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