While the attention of many Disney fans is fixated on the recently-launched Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game at Walt Disney World, the Disney Fantasy offers its passengers an even more enjoyable (in my opinion) experience by way of the newly-enhanced Midship Detective Agency, now featuring the Muppets Adventure Game, currently exclusive to the newest Disney Cruise Line ship.
Many of the same Imagineers who created Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom are also responsible for dreaming up the Midship Detective Agency, which first debuted on the Disney Dream last year. At their basics, both experiences involve players holding up cards to video screens to trigger interactive game elements. But that’s where the similarities end.
In my recent interview with Imagineer Jonathan Ackley, creator of both experiences, I was told that Ackley first pitched the idea for Sorcerers before thinking up the Midship Detective Agency. But as it turned out, Midship launched with two separate story lines (The Case of the Plundered Paintings and The Case of the Missing Puppies) on the Dream about a year before Sorcerers did at the Walt Disney World theme park. And since that debut in early 2011, Imagineers have worked to improve upon the experience for the Disney Fantasy, adding a third and more involved story featuring the Muppets (The Case of the Stolen Show), as everyone is still buzzing about their recent film. The goal is simple in all three games: figure out whodunnit by discovering clues, aided by familiar characters.
On this past weekend’s Disney Fantasy Inaugural preview cruise, I had a chance to learn more about the new Muppets Adventure Game from Walt Disney Imagineers Bob Zalk and Karen Leung. In the video below, they run through the basics of the game and offer a few behind-the-scenes details about its creation. If you want to remain relatively spoiler-free about this new at-sea attraction but still get a sense of what it’s all about, this Imagineer-hosted introduction is the perfect way to get a sampling without “ruining” too much of the adventure. (For those wanting to see it all, keep scrolling below the video.)
Video: Imagineers explain and demonstrate the new Muppets Adventure Game on the Disney Fantasy
Until this point in this article, I haven’t spoiled too much about exactly what is featured in each of the games, but that’s about to change. If you don’t want to know the specifics of who is starring in these games, what their roles are, and how it all ends up, stop reading here, knowing that the Midship Detective Agency, and particularly the new Muppets Adventure Game, are entirely fun and worth the time investment while sailing the Disney Fantasy.
Now, if you won’t be booking a Disney Cruise Line voyage any time soon or simply want to be entertained by these games now, please enjoy the complete video walkthroughs below, followed by a few more thoughts to wrap this up. It’s worth noting that the culprit can change with each time playing through, as can the specific games and interactions you get to play, so even if you watch these videos, there can and likely will be a few surprises when you do finally get on board.
Video: Full Muppets Adventure Game, Midship Detective Agency
Video: Full Case of the Plundered Paintings, Midship Detective Agency
With Dr. Facilier being one of my favorite Disney villains, I lucked out to have him as the villain culprit in my Plundered Paintings game, but any of the other villains could have been the one who stole the art.
I mentioned above that I found the Midship Detective Agency, and more specifically the new Muppet Adventure Game, to be more fun than Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. My reasoning can be summed up in one word: interactivity. While both experience are technically interactive, holding up cards to trigger events to happen, the Midship Detective Agency requires far more interaction at each piece of artwork. Though Sorcerers has the “wow” factor of making magic portals materialize from seemingly nowhere in the Magic Kingdom, the Midship Detective Agency builds upon the already “wow”-filled Enchanted Art scattered throughout the ship. Each of these pieces of artwork come alive through animation when guests simply walk up to them, displaying a variety of short scenes.
The only true interaction with Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is deciding which of the many character cards to play against which villains. But the actual interaction is simply the act of holding up a card. In the Midship Detective Agency, players are required to not only trigger the game by holding up cards, but then actually move the cards around - up, down, left, right, forward, backward, and rotating - acting as a controller, virtually popping balloons, searching with a flashlight, flinging knives, and blasting ice carvings with a blow torch, among many other gags. The cards may be simpler in design, but each Midship interaction is entirely unique and far more fun to perform than what’s currently available with Sorcerers.
Much like Sorcerers takes players through the many themed lands of the Magic Kingdom, the Midship Detective Agency and Muppet Adventure Game lead passengers all over the Disney Fantasy, to forward, midship, and aft artwork, each marked with a special symbol on the ground. But unlike Sorcerers, players are rarely told where to specifically go next. Most of the gameplay can take place on whatever piece of Enchanted Art is most conveniently located, whether it’s traveling across the same deck, or up and down the same part of the ship. And most of the artwork is located quite close to elevators, making it far less tiring than walking around outside a theme park. It’s all guided by the handy maps that are free to grab with the cards when starting a game at one of two beginning kiosks on decks 2 and 5.
As shown in the videos above, I had time to play two of the three available games on the Disney Fantasy, The Case of the Plundered Paintings and the new Muppets-based Case of the Stolen Show. With a relatively short amount of time available on this preview cruise, I played both simultaneously using two separate ID badge cards. It was easy to follow both stories independently and a good way to compare the difficulty levels for each. The Muppets Adventure Game is definitely more involved than its predecessor, featuring more potential suspects to rule out and requiring involved interactions at every stop, often taking a couple minutes to complete. It took around an hour to complete, with half that time spent maneuvering around the ship. The Plundered Paintings game required less skill and time to solve.
The interactions in the games are more involved than those found in Sorcerers and, more importantly, are entirely fun. Throughout the Muppets game, the ID badge card was used to fling the Swedish Chef’s knives from a table, turn pipes to find Animal’s lost drum sticks, and even vacuum up Beaker’s “meeps” to understand just what the heck he was saying. With more zany Muppets humor, the entire Muppets Adventure Game is a complete success even for those just watching. For those playing, the roughly hour-long game is one of the most uniquely enjoyable experiences on the Disney Fantasy. And it’s entirely convenient, as games are saved in the system for the duration of the cruise, allowing players to resume whenever they come across the next piece of artwork, whether it’s immediately rushing through or casually continuing throughout a 7-day voyage.
Fun additions to the Muppets game are the two physical elements, Pepe the King Prawn’s tiny state room door and the Muppets Call Board, each offering additional clues required to solve the mystery. Pepe’s door also features a phone number that can be dialed while on board via the ship’s Wave phones to listen to a variety of hilarious messages from Pepe himself. Calling the number isn’t required to play the game or solve the crime, but is available for pure entertainment value.
For a frame of reference showing how small Pepe’s stateroom door is, here’s a photo of me standing next to it:
The Muppets Call Board offers posted notes that apply to different aspects of the game, but all will be referenced each time. The same goes for the notes posted to Pepe’s door.
On a week-long Disney Fantasy cruise, the Midship Detective Agency and new Muppets Adventure Game offer additional sources of entertainment at no additional charge. It’s a fun experience with high re-playability, lots of laughs, and is enjoyable for the whole family.
More photos from the Muppets Adventure Game and the Midship Detective Agency on the Disney Fantasy: