When Walt Disney Imagineering and the Walt Disney Studios announced their alternate reality game called The Optimist in early July, no one knew exactly what to expect out of this powerhouse creative team. As we eagerly entered the adventure that spanned the web and Twitter, it quickly became clear that this Walt Disney-inspired game was going to be quite an adventure.
And so we followed it to the Tam O’Shanter restaurant, one of Walt Disney’s favorite spots, taking notes throughout. Clues led us to Chili John’s, Griffith Park, and inside Disneyland’s exclusive Club 33. Some players outside the Los Angeles area even got to participate when a mysterious record arrived in the mail. Then The Optimist took us to the Carolwood railroad barn and back to Disneyland for a visit to an even more exclusive spot, Walt’s own private apartment.
All the while, Imagineering was relying on decades of storytelling to tell the tale of young Amelia, whose grandfather Carlos had recently passed away, leaving behind an apartment filled with unusual items connecting him to the Walt Disney Company. Amelia shared her findings with the world online, unexpectedly wrapping herself in the world of a secret society in which The Optimist’s other main character Wallace was an insider, subtly leaking out clues on his web site that led players on this wild chase for answers.
So how did it all end? And what was the point?
When it first began, Disney promised The Optimist would wrap up at the 2013 D23 Expo, the biennial grand gathering of Disney fans in Anaheim, just down the street from Disneyland. And on Friday, August 9, 2013, when the Expo halls opened, many loyal “optimists” made a beeline for Wallace’s own booth, #539 in the show’s Collector’s Forum.
From there, the culmination of weeks of work paid off with a fast-paced, unforgettable journey leading up to a few grand finale prizes.
The Optimist Finale
Sit back and take the time to go on that adventure with me in the 24-minute video below, followed by a closer look at each step along the way.
Video: The Optimist concludes at the 2013 D23 Expo and Disneyland
Whether they had been following along with The Optimist since its inception or just spotted Wallace’s ad in the D23 Expo guidebook, all attendees were invited to participate in its finale, which began by visiting the Disney Cartography booth to talk to Wallace himself, joined by a few associates dressed in grey shirts with a particularly futuristic emblem on them. Long lines formed throughout the weekend filled with fans eager to begin the quest.