A new exhibit opened today (May 19, 2009) at Innoventions West in Epcot. Called “The Great Piggy Bank Adventure,” this attraction teaches children (and adults) the importance of saving and planning for the future.
When I was first invited to cover this event I thought to myself, “Who’s going to want to learn about dry financial matters when they visit Disney World?” But Disney has been educating us for years in entertaining ways so I attended this grand opening with an open mind – and I’m glad I did. I had a good experience and I think others can too if they take the time to check out this latest Innoventions attraction.
Shortly after I arrived at the press event I was introduced to Todd Cleary, Director of the Retail Division of T. Rowe Price. We spent the next half-hour discussing The Great Piggy Bank Adventure as he walked me through the various games used to teach us how to save and invest wisely. One of the first questions I asked Todd was how Disney and T. Rowe Price came together to create this new exhibit. I was told that a little over three years ago, Disney decided they wanted to showcase the importance of saving money and felt Innoventions was the perfect spot to accomplish this goal. After scrutinizing a number of financial institutions it was decided that T. Rowe Price and Disney shared similar philosophies and the teaming of the two would be a good match. Representatives from T. Rowe Price and Disney Imagineers then sat down together and tried to come up with a fun way to learn about a staid subject.
At first the Imagineers wanted to create scenarios that allowed the guests to easily save money and win the game. But since T. Rowe Price is a regulated company, it was required that the challenges be true-to-life and teach us that there are hazards along the way and achieving financial security takes some hard work and smart choices. With this new information in hand, the Imagineers came up with four stations that teach us how to invest wisely. These are, Pick Your Dream, Save It, Inflation Race, and Diversify.
I’m now going to walk you through the game and give you and idea of what’s in store at The Great Piggy Bank Adventure.
As with all Disney attractions, you start in the queue. It’s here that we’re first introduced to the hero of our story, P.I.G. (Personal Investment Guide). In the following portraits we can see him enjoying the Ultimate Vacation, a College Education, Retirement, and an Extreme Bedroom Makeover.
Once past the queue we enter a child’s bedroom. We tap on one of the touch sensitive screens and our PIG comes alive. After a short explanation of how the game works, we are asked to select a goal, which are the same as the portraits we saw earlier. We’re also asked how many people will be playing the game, one, two, or three.
After the selections are made, we’re requested to open one of the drawers where we find our own PIG guide which will accompany us during our financial journey.
The second station teaches us the importance of saving money. When we arrive, we place our PIG on a conveyor belt to the left side of the machine. As he moves into the mechanism, our PIG is transformed from a three-dimensional piggy bank into a two-dimensional cartoon character who will now help us learn to save money.
After a brief explanation, coins of various amounts start to fall from the top of the screen. At the bottom of the screen are various buckets labeled, Savings, Candy, Toys, MP3s, and Outfits. The idea is to direct the coins into the pots marked Savings. But just when you think you have all of the levers positioned correctly, a wolf appears and switches the position of the pots. This forces you to constantly change the levers so that your money is being saved rather than spent.
The lesson here is obvious. We need to be constantly aware of how we spend our money and not forget to save along the way.
At the conclusion of the “Save It” game, our PIG is returned to us and we take him to the “Inflation Race” kiosk. We place our hero into a pneumatic tube, push a plunger, and away he goes on his way to help us learn about the dangers of inflation.
On this next screen our PIG floats from balloons and is carried on currents of up and down drafts. Coins, and the wolf, are also present and you must work as a team to maneuver your PIG around the display collecting money and avoiding obstacles (inflation). Once again, when the scenario completes, your PIG is returned to you and you move on to the final station.
At the “Diversify” kiosk we use magic wands to move our money into various pots. Each pot has a growth factor associated with it. The higher the number, the faster your money will grow in that pot. At first you might think that the smart thing to do is move all of you coins into the higher numbered pots, but occasionally the game comes to a stop and the wolf appears. He sneaks around the screen and snatches money randomly from different accounts – and you have no way of knowing where he might strike. Thus we’re taught not to put all of our eggs into one basket. We must diversify our money.
We have one final stop along the way. Here we return our PIG and find out if we achieved the goal we selected at the beginning of the game. If you did well, your cartoon pig sprouts wings and flies happily to his destination. If you failed, like I did twice, you land in the mud. The entire game lasts between 15-20 minutes.
I think this is a fantastic way for children to learn the importance of savings. And the debut of this attraction couldn’t be better timed with today’s financial climate as it is. But I strongly feel that The Great Piggy Bank Adventure is something that a parent should experience with their children. The games are appealing to the younger set, but some of the lessons might be lost without some guidance from an adult. But the good news is, the games are engrossing enough to keep us older folk entertained as well.
If you want to continue the fun once you get home, check out the link below for the home version of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure.
At 10 o’clock, the official grand opening of the event occurred. Dan Cockerell, Vice President – Epcot, Jim Hunt, Senior Vice President – Walt Disney World, Brian Rogers, Chairman and CIO – T. Rowe Price, and Edward Bernard, Vice Chairman of T. Rowe Price were on hand for the official ribbon cutting. And of course, no Disney event would be complete without an appearance from the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse.
I know that many of you only visit Innoventions when it’s raining or you want to escape from the heat. But there are a number of engrossing exhibits here if you’ll take the time to explore. Are they as exciting as Test Track or Soarin’? No. But they can be a lot of fun if you give them a chance. And The Great Piggy Bank Adventure falls into this fun category.
The previous post in this blog was Magic Kingdom Odds & Ends.
The next post in this blog is SeaWorld – Manta.