Have you ever taken your 3DS to a major theme park and remarked at the surprising number of streetpasses you've received?
As many of you may know in my day to day musings, I work at the (alleged) happiest place on Earth. I work at the Disneyland Parks and Resorts, though not Disneyland proper. I actually work at California Adventure, which is an important distinction because we have alcohol and Disneyland doesn't. I also own a 3DS and like it quite a bit. This past May, I received my 3000th streetpass. While I have yet to take my 3DS with me to a convention where I'm likely to get over a hundred easy over the course of an entire convention, I do work at a densely populated amusement park five days a week, which attracts international attendance the world over. Compared to 3 days at a con maybe once or twice a year, I get 10 streetpasses on a slow day and up to 20 or more on busy days.
And I'm not the only person. Of course I'm not the only person who has a 3DS at the park. And not to take a cheap shot at Sony, but I've never seen any of my co-workers whip out a Vita. But I've worked at an amusement park for over two years, gathering over 3000 streetpasses, and meeting a variety of people both directly and in-directly with my 3DS. Here is my little manifesto of bringing a 3DS to Disneyland, what to do for sociability, what to expect from others, and in general amusement park musings with a portable game system.
1) Know the main thoroughfares
An amusement park is only as good as its design and layout. DCA's layout is convenient because it's possible to take two different loops across two sides of the park and be back at the entrance with no complications. If you're hunting for streetpasses, it pays to know the basic flow of foot traffic. It shouldn't take a rocket science to figure out where everyone is guaranteed to be at least once after you look at a park map.
You may be familiar with the name Main Street. For Disneyland, this is the first place you walk through, filled with shops and food to whet your appetite both coming into the park and out. And it's the only way in or out of the park with exception of the monorail. It's the same idea for DCA except its called Buena Vista Street and you probably should've already figured out where I'm going with this by now. Everyone entering the park is sure to pass through these areas, so no enterprising 3DS owner is going to weasel their way through your wireless net. It's always easy to figure where lots of people are due to roadways being big nerve centers in between lands, entrances, and exits. So over the course of a natural visit, you're bound to get a lot if you make the most of your stay and explore.
2) Employees like to be noticed
My current street plaza greeting is set to DCA Stores CM!
Now passing by guests have a more intimate time at the park knowing the person they streetpassed is indeed an employee and likes Animal Crossing, as per my choice in a Nook hat. But streetpassing, as we all know, isn't some one way street. I've streetpassed a lot of other employees of varying degrees of customization and information.
One co-worker I've tagged about 46 times so far. We work together often and even if we don't work immediately in the same area (for example, next door), we know we were near each other. Another person, whom I know as Jujuboy, I've streetpassed over 50 times and I've never even met him, much less recognized him. All I know is that he's a DCA Foods CM and wears a bear hat, so I know he works on my side and most likely either serves people in a restaurant setting or works a cart where he hands people huge turkey drumsticks that taste like ham (we have a turkey leg air freshener. It smells like ham).
I've streetpassed with other stores CMs, food, janitors, attractions, and entertainment. Pretty much the only kind of person I haven't streetpassed are maintenance people and most of them are old fogeys who know their way with an electric wire but probably not a new-fangled Gameboy. But it's always a nice feeling when you walk around the park and take home a little piece of the park's experience with you. Who knows? Maybe the guy piloting your Jungle Cruise tour boat is a huge Fire Emblem Awakening fan?
3) You'll fill your world map fairly well, but mostly from Japan
Thousands of people come to Disneyland everyday. Many of whom come from out of state or even out of country. The price hike was done to stem the overcrowding and yet I'm pretty sure we're busier then ever. A lot of who you'll tag will probably be around the Anaheim area or a few hours out. Every so often though, you'll get someone interesting from out of the country. Maybe Canada or somewhere from Europe. Nine times out of ten though, it's from Japan.
Long before you fill any other territory, spend any amount of time in the park and you're bound to get a few Japanese streetpasses. I've almost completely filled the country of Japan. If there's one thing the Japanese absolutely love, its our damn teddy bear, Duffy the Disney bear.
You see, this isn't any other teddy bear. No, this bear has a storybook origin of being a special companion. Minnie, fearing for Mickey's sanity on his long voyages as a sea captain, because apparently he's always been a sea captain, makes a teddy bear which may or may not have already achieved sentience. It's not clear whether its already animated like the taxi cab that lives in Toontown on the other side of the park, or whether Mickey's sea madness gave the bear sentience out of necessity, like some big middle finger to Tom Hanks and Wilson. Regardless, Mickey enjoyed his suddenly magical friend so much that he recommended Minnie to make it a business that hopefully didn't become slavery. Thus, the merchandising of Duffy was born.
Did you like that story? The Japanese sure did. So much that they created Shelly the bear, Duffy's girlfriend which is exactly analogous to Mickey and Minnie, right down to the bow to signify this is the girl. To Shelly's credit, she has blue eyes and damn if a Japanese diehard won't make sure you know that.
Knowing the parity the 3DS has in Japan, its likely that just about any Japanese tourist will have a 3DS. What matters is that they bring it with them because they want Duffy merchandise hardcore. We have a five item limit because grifters will come by and buy as many bears as they can so they can fence it back home in their Asian country of choice at exorbitant prices. That's right folks, there are people developing a black market for Disney brand goods and boy does it sound lucrative.
4) There will be plenty of chances to play on your 3DS
So you've shelled out a proportionate amount of money according to how far away you live and you plan to live it up at the park, right? Why bother sitting down to play your handheld when you have an entire park to explore and enjoy. Well, whether you want to or not, you will be finding excuses to crack open your sleeping 3DS.
First are the lines. If you haven't been to an amusement park in a while, wait times can be 30 to 45 minutes for mildly popular rides. Radiator Springs Racers, the crown jewel ride in Cars Land, used to have face two hour waits daily. Something like 10% of your day devoted entirely to waiting for a ride. When you run out of things to talk about with your friends, your neighbors, and that weirdo wearing a jacket covered in pins, you'll break out your 3DS pronto. Maybe you'll make an impromptu wireless Mario Kart game?
And lines are everywhere. Wait times for rides, wait time for shows, wait time for food, and god help you if you need to go to one of the more available restrooms.
You'll probably eat. You like to eat right? Well, you're most likely not going to get right back into the thick of it on a full stomach. Maybe a quick game of Mario Kart while you digest? I know I ain't getting on Space Mountain on a full stomach.
And to me, the chief reason you'll be breaking out your 3DS in the middle of your expensive vacation is just fatigue. The park is huge and you'll be trekking a huge distance for your fun. You will eventually take a break on one of our many benches. You'll find throngs of people just chilling for a respite on benches, corners, and where ever else they can be out of foot traffic to just catch their breath. You know what doesn't demand a large amount of physical energy? Selling your perfect fruit in Animal Crossing New Leaf.
5) Shopping is fine too
You'd be surprised at what you may find sometimes. Keep an open mind and you may find something that will tempt you to impulse buy it. But some surprise shopping brings you closer to someone who may be streetpassing too, not to mention the passing traffic outside.
Let me put it another way. I work in the stores department of an amusement park and I still get surprised at new stock that makes me want it. Wreck-it Ralph pins, Captain America shields, and a conductor hat with Mickey ears on it are all things I've either bought or wish I bought. No matter how jaded I get, I sometimes wonder if the park wouldn't just pay me in merchandise. Plus I get plenty of streetpasses despite being locked to a store. I probably get more streetpasses working someplace like Buena Vista Street since I'm right next to the gate. But I still get plenty of action over at the pier where the crowds may thin a little bit. It's not like there will be a shortage of people plus I'll probably tag more Japanese tourists there since there's tons of Duffy stuff there. But fuck Mad T Party. Those guys are just interested in listening to bad pop/party music and must not be the kind of crowd to own a 3DS.
6) Pay attention to your stuff
Always keep your stuff on you and at least in your sight. Always.
If you're just resting or eating, you may surprise yourself at just how forgetful or careless you are. My advice is to never intentionally set it down unless you know it'll always stay in your peripheral vision. We're talking an internationally known theme park here. Employees are generally all about integrity but we can't do anything if the one of the 20,000 other guests get to your stuff first.
I imagine you're coming with a nice bag. A normal 3DS fits in your pocket but a bag should be an important consideration not only for shopping but for high speed rides. Screaming Through California has designated carry on pouches for a reason you know. That shit's got loop on it and at least if you're careless enough to forget to grab your stuff off a ride, chances are high a CM will get to it first and turn it into lost and found.
But hey, I own an XL and even that still fits in my pocket. Why risk it? Keep it in your hands or your pockets.
7) Check your streetpasses often
This is probably expected if you've been to a convention before with tens or twenties of people tagging you every minute but it remains here. You'll want to take any chance you get to clear your plaza and misc game features before it fills up and blocks future tags. I've had days where I've probably missed a few tags since my plaza filled up an hour before I realized it. It's good to check during lines, while you shop, while you eat food, while you eat snacks, etc.
Every so often, I decide to create personal messages to my streetpasses, especially after a lot of streetpasses. I see lots of people with messages of allons-y or sometimes I just send a topical message like how balls hot it is in Anaheim right now. Several times I've gotten messages of Yay Disney
and of course I'll congratulate them. Maybe I'll ask the foods CM how its going or wish my guests a happy stay. Then I'll play Kirby Triple Deluxe to pick up their key chains or check the HHA Showcase in New Leaf to remark how bad their home design skills are. Fun fact though: once again, the Japanese are really great at designing their Animal Crossing homes. I've seen a One Piece themed house. Crazy, right? Not to mention if you have the streetpass games, the variety in identities will be a boon.
So whip out you 3DS with pride if you ever stop by the happiest place on Earth. I'll be around DCA, serving up shirts and stuffed toys and watching the children prance around, driving their adults crazy until they buy a couple of margaritas or a few glasses of wine deeper into the park. I'll keep my Animal Crossing gate open start a quick game of Smash anytime for you. Just don't ask me to check you in.