Monday, June 2, 2008

Resident Fortune Tellers

I've been fascinated with the old coin operated fortune telling machines ever since I saw the movie "Big" where Tom Hanks pleads to Zoltar to make him magically grow up over night. These machines have a great sense of nostalgia, which is why it's no surprise that Disneyland is the home of two such fortune tellers Esmeralda and Shrunken Ned.

We all know how they work... you drop in a quarter, they read your palm or consult their cards, give you a little spiel and print you a card with your fortune. Both fortune tellers at Disneyland are really well placed and fit thematically within each land they reside. Esmeralda is an antique fortune teller that sits on Main Street in the Penny Arcade. The beheaded British explorer Shrunken Ned on the other hand, is an Imagineering one-of-a-kind found in the shops in Adventureland. You might even remember Captain Fortune Red who once resided in New Orleans Square?

I'd like to see Imagineering create custom fortune tellers for each land at Disneyland. In Fantasyland maybe the three Fairy God-Mothers from Sleeping Beauty grant you a wish, in Tomorrowland a droid may scan you and give you a piece of sage advice, and in New Orleans Square Calypso awaits to give you and eerie prediction (that you can hardly understand).

But these are Disney fortune tellers they should have greater powers than just prediction. For every hundred or so fortune cards dispensed the deck should be stacked with ones that are redeemable for something, like a fast pass for your entire party good on any ride in that land, a free trading pin, or a set of mouse ears! Or in other words all of the little prizes that are part of the Year of a Million Dreams (YMD) promotion.

I've griped about the YMD promotion before, but my issue is with the way the prizes are handed out rather than the concept itself. Utilizing Disneyland's resident fortune tellers would make winning some of these smaller prizes more surprising and entertaining for guests. It would remove the ambiguity of winning prizes under the current YMD promotion by making the who, what, when, where, and how quantifiable.