Greetings…you may call me…keeper, for I am the keeper of theme park tales. Today we stray a bit away from our usual stomping grounds for a different type of adventure. Perhaps you’ve seen the enigmatic advertisements for The Mysterious Package Company in your travels online.
“We tell stories you can touch” the ad says and the image shows things like a wax seal, old letters, photos, and a mysterious crate. To even get to some parts of their website you have to submit an application to the equally mysterious character known simply as Curator. Well as you might imagine your pal, keeper, is all for a catchy name so the deeper I explored the Curator’s world the more intrigued I became. Our lessons here have always centered on how a finely crafted tale can put the viewer INTO the story and it seems I’ve stumbled upon a company that practices this concept daily. To put it simply what they deliver is well beyond a story—they actually sell an experience. I wanted to examine this closer, to see if they delivered on their grandiose claims but it was not, as they say, a casual purchase.
I waited close to a year before I found the perfect person, with the perfect event coming up and I started looking over the three options available and selected the perfect story…. Now here I have a dilemma as a storyteller. I want to tell you this tale as it unfolds. I want you to know the rich details in artifacts and narrative. I want you to experience the joy of this experience from beginning to end. I also want to respect the sanctity of the story and of my brother storyteller. I have both a loyalty to you and although we’ve never met, to him. I’ve decided the best approach is to try to walk the line between the two and try to tell enough..but not too much. With that in mind there may…or may not be, as they say, spoilers ahead.
Part 1: The Pledge
An envelope arrived from an unfamiliar address. When opened it contained a battered, crumpled and water stained envelope that looks like it had been around for years. The stamp on it confirmed that it was originally mailed fifteen years ago. Inside was a personalized letter explaining that you are the only hope for preserving and protecting …. well let’s just call it THIS. Also included are 4-5 aged pages from a booklet that give enough details of THIS that it will prompt you to do a Google search. There you will find that this is a real mystery that the Mysterious Package Company has woven your story into seamlessly. Where does reality end and the story begin? Is the story the true reality? Why did this envelope get sent to you? Who sent it? The Pledge is the opening gambit that introduces you to the story and peaks your interest.
Part 2: The Turn
A week or so later a larger envelope arrives. Inside is a printed poster from over 200 years ago advertising THIS. Also very carefully wrapped up is a necklace with a mysterious symbol on it. A symbol that looks suspiciously similar to a symbol you saw when researching THIS online. With The Turn you realize the first mailing wasn’t an error and you are fed just enough more info to send you back to researching. This is the point you are hooked into the narrative and it becomes your story. You are fleshing out the story and filling in the carefully constructed gaps.
Part 3: The Prestige
More time passes and you have almost forgotten about the weird mailings when a box arrives. Same mysterious address and after unwrapping it you find what can only be described as a crate. It’s nailed shut, it’s big, its heavy and inside is THIS….there is so much THIS that your head is just about ready to explode. AT this point it is no longer a story, or a mystery but your reality. It’s really happening to you. The supporting props are 100% flawless and you would never think of them as anything but what they appear to be..pieces of the past. The shining crown is the handmade object de’art. This is what your journey was all about. This is something to sit on your mantle place or desk as a permanent reminder of the story. As they say on their website “Our goal is to make this story a part of personal mythology, something that brings a spark every time it’s recounted.”
I can report from personal observation that this works. This works better than any movie, book, play, television show, museum, concert or even, dare I say theme park. In the Prestige you get every dollar you spend back tenfold in the wonderful story you now have to tell.
Part 4: The Reveal
After the adventure is over you get one more communication. A single black envelope from the now familiar address. In it the Curator introduces himself and explains that your adventure has now concluded and who is responsible for it. Its’ the Wizard of Oz coming from behind his curtain but not until you have completely bought into his illusion. With the reveal the recipient is granted access to the website without having to go thru the application process. A nice cherry on the top of your experience and good business because you know how powerful the experience can be and you will no doubt want to share it with others. Watching this story unfold thru the eyes of my recipient was an absolutely magical journey and it gives me true hope for the storytellers of the future.
I suspect that although he dabbles in different stories The Curator would agree that in storytelling…
Every Day’s An Adventure