Geeking Out with the Disney Dream, Part 2: The Midship Detective Agency

Games GeekMom Technology Travel
The "Midship Detective Agency" on the Disney Dream lets the kids interact with the Enchanted Art on the ship to solve a mystery. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

One of the unique features of the Disney Dream is their 22 pieces of “Enchanted Art” scattered among all of the artwork on their fourteen decks. In a Harry Potter-esque manner, random pictures on the wall will come to life! This is fun for the kids and adults alike!

I will share more of the stunning Disney artwork in a future post.  Today I’ll be discussing the Enchanted Art and the interactive game you can play with it.  Read more about how the Enchanted Art works here.  My favorite were two pictures of scenes from Peter Pan.  It’s a pirate ship in one picture, a fort in the other.  The pictures hang side-by-side.  The ship is firing cannon shots from his picture and it hits the fort in the other.  Then the fort returns fire!  I’m kicking myself for not having taken pictures of it.

The Enchanted Art is hidden deceivingly among non-Enchanted Art. There are speakers embedded in the corners of the frame and motion detectors tucked among the dark bar areas in the frame. You don't know whether this is animated or not, do you? Photo: Patricia Vollmer

One of the first activities you can do on board, perhaps while waiting for your luggage or for your stateroom to be completed, is the Midship Detective Agency.

The Midship Detective Agency is a fun interactive game for the whole family. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

There are self-registration kiosks available in the common areas of the ship. The players select a card with a semi-unique QR code and a map of the ship. Using the card (which I will call a “badge” from here on out), the players will register themselves with the agency and be assigned a case to solve.  There were two cases available to us, “The Case of the Stolen Puppies” (i.e., the 101 Dalmatians story) or else “The Case of the Stolen Artwork”.  The map of the ship also has a list of suspects, which features a host of popular Disney villains, from Jafar to Cruella Devil to Captain Hook.

The kids had a good time running around the ship (thus exercising map-reading skills and exercising their muscles) to find the art.  They hold the “badge” up to the Enchanted Art (there’s a metal marker on the floor to indicate whether the art is related to the game, not all of the Enchanted Art is).  This is where it gets uber-geeky.

The code will unlock the Enchanted Art and load up a piece of the mystery story.  The badge then becomes like a computer mouse of sorts, and the player will be able to perform tasks on the artwork screen.

These are the the QR coded "badges" that my sons used during the game. Note that they're different from each other. There are many variations available to the players. I'm not sure how many total, but it means that a large group of kids' results will differ from each other in the same game. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
My youngest son is waving his card around to gather a clue in his Midship Detective Agency game. For this particular task, the "badge" became a laser beam used to cut metal. He's looking for puppies here. This Enchanted Art was sitting in the middle of the Disney Dream's Vista Art Gallery! You can see some of the other art in the background on the left. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

While my sons were enjoying the game, I was fascinated with how the game worked from a programming perspective.  First of all, it didn’t matter what order players visited the artwork around the ship.  The QR code is saving your progress in the game, and when you reach your next artwork, no matter where it is, the code will unlock the next step in the story.

Secondly, there are several QR codes available.  So if my boys chose to each do the Mystery of the Stolen Puppies, they would find a different order of clues that would lead them to different villains, because they had different QR codes.

The entire game takes about 90 minutes to complete, and you have to visit at least 9 of the 13 locations on the game map to solve the mystery.  This means a lot of running around the ship.  We ran into several other guests playing, and many kids tried to tell my sons what would happen later on in the game.  A random child tried to give away the answer, declaring “The villain from The Princess and the Frog [Dr. Facilier] did it.”

Meanwhile, I was trying to explain to the boys how the game worked, and made it clear to them that just because one kid had Dr. Facilier as the culprit, it didn’t necessarily mean we would have the same solution.

There are many accounts about the Midship Detective Agency (just Google it!) but I’m not sure others caught how (almost) unique most players’ experiences will be during the cruise.  Just another example of Disney Imagineering at work!


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