Legends of Frontierland: Get In The Game

Written by Hastin Zylstra. Posted in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features

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Published on September 02, 2014 at 3:00 am with 18 Comments

It’s been a very hot and awfully long summer since we posted our first look at Legends of Frontierland, so we thought we would go in and take a look at what’s happened with the experience since it first launched. The past few weeks have seen changes to the game revealing how deep the planning on this experience really goes. We’ll take a look at many of the changes that happened over the last weeks, dive into the ongoing story, and provide some tips and tricks if you still want to get into the game.

Gameplay Changes

What surprised us the most was how much the game has really changed over the almost 8-week experience. In addition to altering or removing basic game mechanics to make the game more fair, they also made it easier for people to get started and found creative uses of the land where the game is held. The managers of the game would take feedback, and fix issues that “citizens” were having.

New signage was added to make the experience more obvious to those passing through.

New signage was added to make the experience more obvious to those passing through.

Game bit amounts are constantly adjusted so the game feels fair. Also, Legends of Frontierland signage was added to all official stations.

Game bit amounts are constantly adjusted so the game feels fair. Also, Legends of Frontierland signage was added to all official stations.

An official "Welcome Center" was added inside the Golden Horseshoe - to create a defined launching point for new players.

An official “Welcome Center” was added inside the Golden Horseshoe – to create a defined launching point for new players.

Lots of changes were done to the Land Board - including lowering prices, and establishing rules for how often buildings can be 'flipped' (once per day).

Lots of changes were done to the Land Board – including lowering prices, and establishing rules for how often buildings can be ‘flipped’ (once per day).

Ongoing Stories

Exposed slowly over the entire experience, it started to become obvious that the characters that guests can interact with also have a deep back story. In addition to the characters having ‘daily reveals’ (such as relationships, love triangles, and family relationships), there is also a deeper back story going on – enabling more frequent players to go beyond the daily land game, and explore a deeper story.

Family drama is a deep part of the character experience. Here, Mac finds out that Billy is actually her father.

Family drama is a deep part of the character experience. Here, Mac finds out that Billy is actually her father.

Chance and Molly officially became a couple. Molly sports a player-created engagement ring.

Chance and Molly officially became a couple. Molly sports a player-created engagement ring.

One of Molly's goals was to sing on the stage of the Golden Horseshoe - so guests worked with cast and Miss Lilly to make that happen!

One of Molly’s goals was to sing on the stage of the Golden Horseshoe – so guests worked with cast and Miss Lilly to make that happen!

Guests arranged a marriage for Zane and Priscilla on the Mark Twain, including buying a ceremonial piece of land to mark the occasion.

Guests arranged a marriage for Zane and Priscilla on the Mark Twain, including buying a ceremonial piece of land to mark the occasion.

However, these stories aren’t obvious for players who don’t attend the game frequently, and it would be great for future experiences to make story elements like this more obvious. Making it clear there’s a deeper backstory could drive more people into the game, in the same way that the lore of Disneyland itself can be very engaging.

Guests Being Creative

In addition to the core game, the guests were creating experiences as well, which provided not only unique things to do, but started businesses, created shows, and added a unique element where players could “feel the map” and figure out how to expand the game in a creative way. You could be whatever character you wanted to be, and you could do just about anything (as long it was in the spirit of Disney and the game).

Zane calls attention to one of the first player created events, a Dance Off! Frontierlanders had the most nimble feet!

Zane calls attention to one of the first player created events, a Dance Off! Frontierlanders had the most nimble feet!

Guests can start businesses, including art. The Fanciful Mr. James with one of his pieces of art for Molly - he sold custom artwork to any guest for 15 bits.

Guests can start businesses, including art. The Fanciful Mr. James with one of his pieces of art for Molly – he sold custom artwork to any guest for 15 bits.

Yes, even a pineapple can be the mayor of the Western Territories. Guests are creating their own wild and wacky stories and events.

Yes, even a pineapple can be the mayor of the Western Territories. Guests are creating their own wild and wacky stories and events.

Hay Bale Hastin and Mesquite Matt were the first to work with cast members to proudly wave the flag of Frontierland on the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain.

Hay Bale Hastin and Mesquite Matt were the first to work with cast members to proudly wave the flag of Frontierland on the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain. If you can think of something fun to do, you can generally make it happen.

There's always some player-made shenanigans going on in front of the Golden Horseshoe. Here we have a massive game of Rock-Paper-Scissors going on.

There’s always some player-made shenanigans going on in front of the Golden Horseshoe. Here we have a massive square dance getting ready to start.

Noble Nick started his own hand-drawn caricatures business - get yourself drawn for just 15 bits. We also hired other guests to help us create signage, and spread the word, bringing other guests into our experience.

Noble Nick started his own hand-drawn caricatures business – get yourself drawn for just 15 bits. We also hired other guests to help us create signage, and spread the word, bringing other guests into our experience.

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Hay Bale Hastin and Noble Nick also came up with the Citizen Welcome Wagon to help get new players into the game – essentially creating a tutorial for the game.

What was amazing was that for us, it felt we were creating the Disneyland experience, rather than just consuming it. Such simple things, like explaining the game, creating things for people to do, getting citizens to meet at a rally or just sharing the character drama – it felt like we started the story for other guests.

We entertained people, and we got to be ‘on stage’ in a ‘role’ at Disney – something completely unheard of in the almost 60 years of Disneyland experiences. This game also ‘scratched that itch’ for wanting to be a Disney Cast Member and for a few this game became a ‘way of life’ to change experiences for the characters and the guests.

Non-Game Cast Members Creating Experiences

In addition to the core cast members getting into the game, it wasn’t uncommon to see other departments CMs also creating experiences and ways to earn bits for guests.

Willum works the Big Thunder line to hand out name badges, and encourage people to play after they get off the ride.

Willum works the Big Thunder line to hand out name badges, and encourage people to play after they get off the ride.

Leveling

Guests essentially became cast members, but the leveling system creates a system of trust – and game monitors could shut anything down at anytime that got questionable. The leveling system provided trust and friendship with characters and cast.

Hero and Legend ceremonies happen during the last Golden Horseshoe show of the day (5:40pm). The cast makes a big deal of the contributions of players during the day.

Hero and Legend ceremonies happen during the last Golden Horseshoe show of the day (5:40pm). The cast makes a big deal of the contributions of players during the day.

Priscilla and Molly are super excited to give Mesquite Matt his Legend award. Each Legend gets a custom bandana, and a certificate of achievement.

Priscilla and Molly are super excited to give Mesquite Matt his Legend award. Each Legend gets a custom bandana, and a certificate of achievement.

A group of Legends. Legends are encouraged to come back and guide new players, and to create more experiences for citizens.

A group of Legends. Legends are encouraged to come back and guide new players, and to create more experiences for citizens.

Becoming a hero and legend felt like a big deal, and the characters and cast did a fantastic job ensuring that feeling went beyond that day – and pulled you more into the experience.

Merchandising

Basic merchandising was also integrated into the game, having inexpensive props to add to the experience. Bandana’s are available for purchase for around $2.50, and various disguises exist for those looking to alter their character.

L.B.’s elixirs also popped up shortly after the game started. This are flavored teas that you can purchase, with the idea that they will alter the gameplay for the players while they consume them.

About 2 weeks into the game, L.B.'s cart appeared, selling elixirs for $3.

About 2 weeks into the game, L.B.’s cart appeared, selling elixirs for $3.

Each elixir has special 'powers'. Charm makes it easier to get what you want, Luck gets you more bits per transaction, and Knowledge allows you get more information out of characters and cast.

Each elixir has special ‘powers’. Charm makes it easier to get what you want, Luck gets you more bits per transaction, and Knowledge allows you get more information out of characters and cast.

However, this didn’t seem well thought out. There’s not really a description on what the elixirs do, and it can be hit-or-miss if the characters and cast even see you drinking one.

Final Thoughts

As we said in our first look, this game isn’t for every single Disney fan. But for those with an active imagination, and those willing to take part in this social experience – this “game” offered enjoyable storytelling and community building.

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Citizens band together for a cause, or just to throw someone in jail.

Citizens band together for a cause, or just to throw someone in jail.

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In the same way that MiceChat meets nearly 10 years ago brought Disney fans with a common interest together, we see the same thing with Legends; team building, public speaking skills, and new friendships formed.

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Careful . . . you might just end up in jail.

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Legends of Frontierland is an amazing and fun experience – and might just be the oddest and most un-Disney thing we have ever done at the parks – and you still have time to check out these fun experiences, so get to the park in its last few weeks!

Join Us!

If you haven’t experienced Legends of Frontierland yet, please feel free to join us in the park. The game has been extended for an undefined period of time (rumor has it until September 27th). There will be all kinds of fun and exciting things going on, and I think any Disneyland fan owes it to themselves to at least experience the uniqueness of this game while it is still in the park, even if it’s just long enough to figure out what it’s all about.

If you see Hay Bale Hastin, Mesquite Matt, Noble Nick, or any fellow citizen of Rainbow Ridge or Frontierland – be sure to say “Howdy!”. If you can’t make it out this weekend, follow our player-run news Twitter account (@DLFrontierTimes), and we’ll be live tweeting the next few days of the game.

Getting Started Tips

If you’re heading into Frontierland for the first time:

  • Stop by any station to pick up a name badge! Rainbow Ridge is popular with new players, but it depends who hands you a badge. Badges are now pre-printed, so don’t worry about thinking about a name (unless you want a custom name).
  • Check out the Telegraph station. We always recommend new players go straight to the Telegraph Station. Here, you can get you’re easiest first job, and know about any goings on in town.
  • Talk to other players! Everyone has a story, and you can get a better sense of what’s going on if you talk to them. Legends really know what’s going on, and they can be found with their special bandana.
  • Never say “No”! Have fun doing just about anything you can think of! Got a talent? Tell the characters, and they will work with you to feature it. Want to just earn bits? Start a business and ‘hire’ fellow players.
  • Think of it as a real town, and not just a game. Every town has it’s citizens, it’s jobs, and it’s roles – you can find your niche and have fun!

About Hastin Zylstra

Hastin Zylstra, MiceChat Technical Administrator, has been involved with the technical aspects of MiceChat since it's launch in 2005. In addition to keeping MiceChat online, he works for a major software company in the Orange County, California area. Most weekends, he can be found at Disneyland geeking out with MiceChat friends and the latest technology. Currently, he's obsessed with the new Tomorrowland movie, and the adventures that have launched from it.

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18 Comments

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  1. I absolutely loved the time I had playing the game, it was a wonderful experience, and it’d be a shame to see it go; Frontierland would be so lifeless afterwards! I’m also very happy to see that Zane and Priscilla got married, I would’ve loved to see that!

  2. I’m not going to play….ever. I still miss the Billys. *pouting*

    • Legends of Frontierland = Disneyland’s mymagic+ — a way for Disney to add very little and squeeze a few more dollars out of guests.

      • I’m not sure that’s true. It’s not like the extended merchandise experience that is the Adventureland game where you have to pay to play. And while things like the jail were made on the cheap, there are costs (principally the labor costs for all those cast members but also materials). I haven’t seen a lot of people rushing to buy their overpriced western wear on the spot, or those disguises that were supposed to be such a big part of the game– many people bring stuff from home. And I can’t see the elixirs or food sales making them that much more money. The chief benefit of this for them seems to be that brings vibrancy to an area that was otherwise dead, has a loyal following, and acts to take people out of lines. If this does come back after a Beta, I’d think they’d probably have to staff up further and do some things to fix the eyesores that are the trading post and jail, or perhaps just bring it back seasonally.

  3. I think that it interesting to compare this game with the games that we see coming out at WDW. The WDW games tend to rely on technology and gimmicks (cards, cell phones and so on) while Legends of Frontierland is more about interacting with cast members and other players.

    I give this a big thumbs up just for Disney for trying something different. While this sort of interactive game is not for everyone, it is unique and a lot of fun.

    • California has a much larger supply of talented out-of-work actors willing to accept theme park pay than Florida does. When it comes to face characters and “streetmosphere”, the California parks have always been much stronger.

  4. While Legends of Frontierland isn’t for me (too much work), I commend Disney for creating a rich story and finding a way to let guests interact with that story.

    The only issues I have with Legends, other than it requires to much time and energy, is that some of the props look pretty cheap. By contrast, the Adventureland game seemed perfectly integrated.

    I’d LOVE to see Disney do a next generation of this game (or a completely different game in another land) and fully theme it.

    Excellent review Hastin and thank you for the tips. It would make me feel much more comfortable playing had I read your starter guide prior to trying it for myself!!! Well done.

  5. I’m glad that this event got extended. I also noticed they were recording gatherings and major events. I hope we can see some of this footage in the future. Though it was busy yesterday, LOF was in high swing with a lot of clever Legends doing various business adventures and handing out periodicals. If you happen to see me in the park, be sure to say howdy.

    If anyone has pictures with Bear Trap (myself), please send me over a copy so I can post it on Facebook. Thanks! Rainbow Ridge!

  6. Great pics and great article guys. You guys are great legends.

    My son has had a blast playing this game and is extremely addicted, going so far as requesting we come back early from a family vacation to try and catch the last day. We are happy its been extended, but ultimately hope it does end, at least in this iteration, so that we can see how the stories wrap up, and perhaps come back seasonally. We ourselves won’t be able to hold our intensity for too much longer, as with school starting, other priorities– deferred over the summer– will have to be dealt with.

    I think they’ve done a much better job of making the game accessible to short term players, as illustrated by the crowds of newbies playing on labor day. The crowding helped certain elements (such as having a ho down which is hard if crowds are sparse) but made others harder (such as playing cards when the golden horseshoe is so crowded– people were actually eating on the card table). Ultimately, I still think that to really make this work they need more cast members and more stations with things to do (how about an explorer that sends you on missions? a blacksmith with horseshoes and anvil challenges? an outlaw gathering outlaws?) if they go permanent, and I still have reservations about how accessible the game is to children (a large portion of the legends are young adults, and many have become legends by being helpful– something the kids simply can’t do….some legends are more willing to work with the kids than others) that could be fixed by having more fixed stations of things to do.

  7. This has honestly been one of my favorite things added to Disneyland in a while, Its fun to go back to the park and see some of the same people playing the game regularly

  8. Kudos to Disneyland for taking a leap of faith on this interactive experience!

    Kudos also to Disneyland for getting guests to create content for the park gratis. ;)

  9. I’m sure it’s great for locals who visit a lot but I do not come to a theme park to do work. I come to be immersed in the work that cast members have done for me. That’s all there is to it.

  10. I think this game is brilliant and I’ve never played it and probably never will. But here’s why I love it: I was at Disneyland last week and various cast members and guests were playing the game as I was walking past. I had no idea what was going on, but I could tell everyone involved was very immersed in the game; there was an intensity to their interactions that felt like something important was going on. Usually when I walk through Frontierland I just walk by the other guests on their way to and from various attractions…but suddenly Frontierland felt more REAL somehow. Like people lived there and there was a PURPOSE to it. It deepened the illusion and gave it a sense of space and reality I’ve never felt in a theme park. I think Disney has something here, because even if you don’t play, the game enhances your experience of the park in an intangible but important way. For me, there was something magical about it.

  11. [...] Legends of Frontierland: Get In The Game In addition to altering or removing basic game mechanics to make the game more fair, they also made it easier for people to get started and found creative uses of the land where the game is held. The managers of the game would take feedback. Fix … Read more on MiceChat [...]

  12. Great review Hastin. Ever since I played the alpha last sept I had a feeling this game would of had a place for me. It allowed me to be creative, talkative, and make friends even though my best friend was a certain Pineapple that I was holding majority of the time. The best part was that I got to meet and now have so many Disney friends that we talk and now try to meet at the park to hang out. I hope Disney brings back this game for a new chapter and let those who love this new form of attraction/entertainment/fun enjoy it. I honestly will say I’ve had more fun not riding attraction but spending a day interacting with others and the main characters.

  13. Wow. Disney geeks sure are fat!

  14. I don’t feel the game, but if you do fine. I’d rather see a new Indian Village, another Fort Promise, and a return of the stagecoach ride.

    • You probably won’t see the stagecoach ride. It left the park because the horses kept getting spooked. And I’m not sure what you meant by Fort Promise. Was that sponsored by a butter substitute? Fort Wilderness was on Tom Sawyer’s Island. I’d like to see a return of that also. I could live without the Indian Village, though.