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The Optimist concludes with wild adventure at 2013 D23 Expo, Disneyland as Disney ramps up “Tomorrowland” promotion

in Disney, Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Events, Movies, Theme Parks

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.

The Optimist finale at the 2013 D23 Expo and Disneyland

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.

16 Comments

  1. This is incredibly cool, Ricky, and I’m so glad you got to take part in it. I had to watch from afar, but “Amelia” did send me one of those amazing records from the World’s Fair. I’m thinking about having it framed. I know it’s not a real historical artifact, but it’s certainly something very few people have in their possession. I was hoping some of the ARG would still be going on when my wife and I get to Anaheim next month, but I guess we’ll just have to see what the next step of the journey is.

    1. Anime Nut

      Actually, you CAN still participate in some of the fun. Before my flight home last night (2 days after the Expo ended), my brother and I took a whirlwind tour of the local sites. The Tam O’Shanter still has Wallace’s framed artwork of the Imagineers in the lobby, as well as the special etchings on Walt’s table. Griffith Park’s Merry-Go-Round still has the special strap with the coded message, on the very same horse. And Chili John’s is still giving out free cans of “pinto beans” (with special ingredient Optimism!) to players who visit. I asked the Chili John’s server how long they plan to keep participating, like until supply runs out or something. She told me they actually haven’t been given an end date, and that they’re still receiving supplies of the cans from Disney. It’s very likely these business will continue to play along with The Optimist for a very long time, possibly through December 2014. Consequently, all of the Disneyland activities were gone come Monday morning. The D23 Expo was your one & only chance to experience the finale.

  2. Christina Bravo

    Perfect summary of the adventure. Now when people ask what I’ve been “wasting” my time doing these past six weeks I can point them to this article. I still can’t explain why I became so attached to this game but am so grateful of every opportunity it provided. Can’t wait for the Tomorrowland movie!

  3. Thank you very much for your coverage of The Optimist. NOW I know why I couldn’t ride the in the Lilly Belle car and why the Main Street Cinema was closed.

  4. I’m so sorry I couldn’t take part personally – but I did receive a postcard of the Partners statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle from Wallace, which totally made my day. Now it’s an even greater souvenir! 🙂

  5. Sarah

    This is so amazing! I truly wish I could’ve been apart of this like you were. Thank you for posting this!

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