Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 Minnie's Moonlit Madness - An After Hours Scavenger Hunt around Disneyland

Ruston, Jacob, Theresa and I have participated in the last 4 Minnie's Moonlit Madness events and we always have an absolute blast! Back in November the four of us started talking about our strategies and started making plans for MMM 2015. Last year the email went out in early January so as it drew nearer we were all anxious to receive it.

Finally on January 7th, the email came! Ruston sent it on to us as soon as he received it.

Wait... what's that part at the bottom...

Oh no!

Two cast members on the team?!? Either Jacob, Theresa or myself are going to have to quit our jobs and become Disney cast members quickly or we're not going to be able to participate.

I was unsuccessful convincing either of them, so I'm sad to say, we won't be competing this year.

Another wrinkle that teams will be facing this year is a staggered sign-up. Cast members working at the Disneyland Resort will get to sign up on January 15th, while cast members who work at Disney Studios or in Glendale can't register until January 16th.

I can understand why they made the change. In 2014, registration for 350 teams to Minnie's Moonlit Madness sold out in 7 minutes. Since it was so popular, it only made sense that they figure out a way to let more employees participate. This year, they also opened it to 400 teams, allowing ever more people the opportunity to play.

January 15th arrived and luckily for those working at Disney Studios, it didn't sell out on the first day. It was possible we could have found our way on team, but we didn't really want to break up our awesome team. And with that, I thought our story of this year's Moonlit Madness was over. 

... but, that's not quite the end of the story.

Because I've written about all my past experiences, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014, my blog always gets a lot of attention as soon as registration for MMM is announced. In fact, if you search for Minnie's Moonlit Madness on Google, my blog is second, only behind the Disney company!

It was on this particular post where in the comments three days before the event, someone asked if I was going to be participating this year. I told my sad tale about how we didn't have enough cast members for a team and wouldn't be joining in on the fun. I soon learned I was actually chatting with Craig, a member of the Minnie's Moonlit Madness Clue Crew. Craig mentioned he was a fan of my MMM write-ups and asked if I'd be interested in volunteering to help run one of the clues. Yes, yes, yes! An opportunity to do something at Disneyland I've never done before. I'm in!

Before I knew it, February 26th was here. After getting off work, I braved LA traffic and headed to the parks. Disneyland closes at 8pm tonight in order to give the organizers time to prepare. I took advantage of the low crowds to take a few nighttime shots of the area. 

Around 7:45pm, I joined a crowd of all the other volunteers by the Fantasy Faire where I finally met Craig in person. We chatted for a little while and then I got to know a few more of the volunteers. First I met a couple guys who had just started in the Disney college program 2 months earlier. So far, they're loving their Disney experience. I also met two guys visiting from Florida who help run and participate in Minnie's Moonlit Madness's counterpart for WDW employees called Goofy's Mystery Tour. It was interesting to learn a few of the differences between the different events. GMT is more linear where you go from clue A to clue B and so on. MMM gives you random clues and you can be going anywhere in the park.

While all the teams were filing into the park and heading back to the Fantasyland Theater, at 8:30 the volunteers had their own meeting by Rapunzel's tower. We were introduced to all the members of the Clue Crew who volunteer their time to help put this event together. Yep, you read that right. They do this on top of their regular job to organize and put this event together.

A quick group photo and then we split off with the Crew Clue member who invited us.

Craig had certainly been busy this year. I think he wrote 10 of the 36 clues that were offered. For MMM there are easy clues and there are hard clues. Easy clues are worth 100 points and are meant to be fun. Hard clues are worth 125 points and are meant to be challenging. I learned that I would be working an easy clue with 10 other people over by Finding Nemo. It was titled "Part of Her World" and it was basically playing Taboo with answers being 80s Movies or TV Shows. Being an easy clue, we really wanted people to have a good time. There were 30 different clue cards and as soon as they got 10 right, they passed the clue. Our group practiced on each other until we left for the Fantasyland Theater.

The theme this year is Minnie's Totally Awesome Moonlit Madness. It's an 80s throwback theme, so lots of the teams were in retro 80s gear.

Even though we've got clues to work, volunteers were able to go watch all the festivities. I'm told this was reminiscent of Videopolis though that was a little before my time. On the video screen, videos from the 80s were playing.

This is the first year I've seen the event held in this theater. Normally we'd all be sitting on the ground in the Big Thunder Ranch Festival Arena or somewhere backstage.
All teams were gathered, awaiting the arrival of our host for the evening, Dylan White.

At 9:20pm, Dylan came on stage and welcomed us to the totally rad, totally gnarly, totally tubular, totally awesome, Minnie's Moonlit Madness 2015!

I always enjoy his opening monologues. This one was filled with 80s references. A short time later, he was joined by Minnie Mouse and representatives from CHOC.

Hi Minnie!

A portion of each team's registration fee is donated to a local charity each year. This year representatives from CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County) were presented a check for $10,000 by Vice President, Resorts and Downtown Disney Jon Storbeck and Disneyland Ambassador Allie Kawamoto.

After the presentation, it was time to start Minnie's Moonlit Madness! As usual, the event began with Trivia. 50 questions, ranging from "duh, that was easy" to "wow, who in the world would know that", all worth 3 points each. In most cases, the top teams are separated only by how many trivia questions they miss.

As soon as trivia was announced, laptops, cell phones and iPads all came flying out. I'm sure this was a very different event in the days before technology. Seeing all the teams on the benches, it definitely looked more difficult to collaborate compared to all sitting on the ground.
Who is ready for trivia?!?

Trivia catches a lot of first timers by surprise. First there's the difficulty of the questions, and second there's the rapid pace. Dylan reads the question first (maybe 10 seconds or so) then the multiple choice answers pop up on the screen and he then reads those (another 15 seconds). After that, the question disappears from the screen and the next question starts. If you're trying to look it up on google, you'd better be quick!

Here's the first 10 questions. How would you have done?

1. The voice that sings "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" makes an appearance in which Disneyland attraction?
A. it's a small world
B. Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
C. Alice in Wonderland
D. Pinocchio's Daring Adventure
E. Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

2. The Sherman Brothers wrote many of the songs for Disney Channel's "Welcome to Pooh Corner" and each character had their own song. "I Hum to Myself" was which character's song?
A. Rabbit
B. Eeyore
C. Piglet
D. Tigger
E. Pooh

3. In "Big Hero 6", what does Wasabi do during the car chase that finally prompts Go Go to take over the driving?
A. Fastens his seatbelt
B. Stops at a red light
C. Comes to a complete stop at a stop sign
D. Uses his turn signals
E. Slows when driving through a school zone

4. Where do the Wuzzles live?
A. The Isle of Wuzz
B. New Wuzzle
C. WuzzCay
D. Wuzzleton
E. Critter Country

5. When was Disney Channel's first broadcasting day?
A. January 17, 1987
B. October 2, 1984
C. April 18, 1983
D. May 22, 1982
E. April 29, 1989

6. According to the critters, Critter Country was "established" in what year?
A. 1989
B. 1986
C. 1983
D. 1889
E. 1801

7. Which song was awarded "Best Original Song" from 1989's "The Little Mermaid" at the Academy Awards?
A. Part of Your World
B. Under the Sea
C. Kiss the Girl
D. Poor Unfortunate Souls
E. Les Poissons

8. The Disneyland attraction"Adventure Thru Inner Space" closed in September 1985 after being open how many years?
A. 17
B. 21
C. 20
D. 18
E. 15

9. What year did Frank G. Well become Chief Operating Officer for the Walt Disney Company?
A. 1987
B. 1984
C. 1986
D. 1982
E. 1981

10. What was the first Disney film released in the US in 1980.
A. Herbie Goes Bananas
B. The Last Flight of Noah's Ark
C. Midnight Madness
D. Popeye
E. The Watcher in the Woods

So, how would you have done? Let me just go ahead and tell you, the team that took first place, only missed 10 questions out of 50.

I would have liked to stay for the entire trivia and seen the scatter clue, but I've got places to be. Right around clue 30, all the volunteers from my group headed towards Finding Nemo to get ready for the teams.
We passed the time by getting to know each other better and practicing our clue.

A short time later a text let us know that trivia was over and the teams had scattered! Better get ready! Looks like just beside us happens to be one of the locations of a scatter clue. I snuck a peek and it looks like they have a few sticker sheets of the ghosts from Ms. Pacman. I wonder what is involved in the scatter clue this year. In past years it's usually finding a sign somewhere in the park and writing down a phrase. Looks like there's an interactive element this year.

Quite a few teams made their way to the scatter clue location above and got their sticker. After a while a team came up to us and said they were ready to do our challenge! We've got our first team! They played Taboo and went to collect their passing sticker. It was then that we noticed their clue wasn't for our station but still the scatter clue. Oops. Sorry team 40. Being this close to the scatter clue station caused confusion for a lot of teams.

Finally teams started showing up at our station, and after checking their clue number, one of the volunteers ran through the clue with them and everything went smoothly. After that, teams started coming in waves. Earlier, Craig let us know we'd be getting over 100 teams at our clue throughout the night. At some points we'd all be busy and then others we'd be sitting around waiting for someone to show up.

In past events, Minnie Mouse would be riding around the park wearing her detective gear. Sure enough, she was roaming the park again tonight.

During one of the lulls, for the first time ever since I've done the event, I had time to take a picture with Minnie! Yep, that's me dressing in my 80s Rescue Rangers shirt and Back to the Future hat (which I got a lot of compliments on).

We had a steady stream of teams throughout the night and our job was to make sure no one was waiting around. It's much better if a volunteer is standing around doing nothing than to make a team wait.

One of our busier times.

About 45 minutes in to the event, Craig came over to see how everything was going with our clue and if we were having any issues. Like I said, he's got something like 10 clues he wrote tonight, so he's got a bit of walking around to do. Since our clue was going well and we appeared to have enough people so that no one had to wait around, Craig asked if I'd like to join him as he walked around the park and saw how his other clues were going. Um, yeah.

Being so close to the Tomorrowland Terrace stage, we could hear this clue, but we couldn't see what was going on.

Apparently the teams had to participate in an 80s Jazzercise class and follow the dance moves to the complete the clue. Looks like teams had a lot of fun with it.

Craig and I continue towards the hub, passing teams that were scurrying to their next clue. Craig looking in on a team of Wilderness Explorers who were stuck on a clue.

Our next stop was the Jolly Holiday Bakery. Here teams were given a stack of 25 Disneyland attractions that were running in the 80s. Also in the early 80s, Disneyland ticket booths were still in use. Teams had to put 5 attractions in each A, B, C, D, and E category in order to pass the challenge. They got three tries to get it right, otherwise they failed the clue. Now that electronics are allowed during the Madness, teams had an easier time of finding the answers and moving forward.

Having a fun time?

Next was a stop at the Tiki Room. This clue was titled "A Decade of Change". Here, teams were given two events that happened in the 80s. Depending on which event happened first, they moved left or right amongst the tikis on the lanai.

Once all the questions were answered, they drew a picture of the tiki they ended on and took it to the volunteer to receive a pass/fail sticker.

Teams hurrying through Adventureland to get back to the hub.

With 10 clues plus the scatter clue to get through and only 2 hours to finish, teams can only average 12 minutes per clue in order to finish everything. That 12 minutes has to include the time to walk to the clue as well, so if you have to walk back to New Orleans Square from the hub, you've got to hustle!

Our next clue would take us to Main Street.

Some of the teams making their way down Main Street. With 400 teams and a fun 80s theme, I was happy to see that there were a lot of teams in costume.

I think they were bounding as Smee, Anastasia, Lafou, and Drizella.

About halfway down Main Street, for Craig's next clue, teams had to find a group of Valley girls and listen in on their conversations.

Teams would listen for certain phrases and use letters from the phrases to answer their clue. I love the soundtracks they had playing here all night. Currently we're listening to the Mickey Mouse Disco.

Time to head to the next clue at the flagpole.

Two volunteers are rocking out as teams make their way up.

What do pro athletes respond after they win something big and someone asks them what they're going to do next?

How often do you see a group of bananas tied together trying to solve clues on Main Street? Only at Minnie's Moonlit Madness. Lots of famous athletes have uttered the words "I'm going to Disneyland!" Scattered around the area were descriptions of athletes who said the phrase and it was the team's job to figure out who would have had to travel the furthest from the venue where they said it to get to Disneyland.

There was just one more clue for us to check out and it was being run over by the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln theater (currently featuring art from Frozen and The Snow Queen). This definitely had some teams frustrated, having them count letters in the lyrics of "Let It Go" and assemble them to form a question that could be answered inside the lobby. I think at one point teams had to count over 125 letters, and if you were off in your count, the clue wouldn't make sense. I'm sure Craig loved overhearing teams say "I hate this clue" when he's the one who wrote it...

With about 10 minutes left, I left Craig to check out the craziness at the hub. No surprise, tons of teams were scrambling to squeeze in just one more clue.

Great job keeping up with the teams all night VoluntEars!

The Cast Choir always has a table set up selling snacks, but who has time to stop and eat when there is a race going on?

Yep, it looks like madness here.

Here's the table you hope you never have to visit during the race. They're looking like they're in pretty good spirits though. Hopefully they've had an uneventful night.

As I went back to the volunteer group near Nemo, quite a few teams were making their way to the hub to finish their night. Awesome retro 80s workout clothes guys!

There weren't any teams left, so everyone at Nemo was hanging around chatting. We got in a big debate regarding The Dress. Some swore it was white and gold, while another set of us just couldn't understand how they couldn't tell it was blue and black. Crazy how this image divided the internet.

The entire group walked to the hub, were thanked by Craig for volunteering, and then we said our goodbyes. A quick group picture in front of the castle and it was time to go. Thank you Craig for the opportunity to come be a part of Minnie's Moonlit Madness. It was pretty awesome to see it from the other side.

After everyone took off, Craig and I stuck around a little longer, as I wanted to see what happened when MMM was over. All the tables and chairs were packed away and cleared out. All the clues were collected and sorted into boxes for scoring later. Good luck with the scoring!
A week later, the results were posted and amazingly two teams tied for first place! Both did 10 Hard clues, completed the scatter clue, finished in time, and answered 40 of the 50 trivia questions correctly. Well done!

A short time ago, this place was hopping. Disneyland has a completely different feel when it's empty.

All the music was still playing in the park and to my delight, it happened to be the 1983 album Splashdance. It may have come out in '83, but I got a hold of a cassette when I visited the park in the early 90s. Hearing those songs and walking through Disneyland brought back a lot of happy memories.

Craig and I rode the tram back to the parking garage and chatted with teams about how they liked MMM. A few first timers were caught off guard by the pace of the trivia questions, but overall they found it enjoyable. Definitely coming back and doing it again next year.

I said my goodbyes to Craig, and by the time I got back to my car at the Mickey and Friends parking structure, it was well after 1am. It would have been awesome to have been able to compete, and I hope some day I'll get to again, but being able to volunteer and see a different side of Minnie's Moonlit Madness was awesome.

Thank you to Craig for the invitation and to all the other members of the Clue Crew for all the work they put in to organizing this event!


  1. Joe! How cool is this?! It's so great to finally see what happens after I leave the stage. What a great event and what a great description of the whole night. Thank you for posting this! I'm so glad someone found it and pointed me to it!

    ~ Dylan White

    1. Glad you found it Dylan. I've enjoyed your opening monologues since the first time I went to MMM. It's a great start to the beginning of an amazing night at the park.