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Great Piggy Bank Adventure

What in the World?
A weekly peek at Walt Disney World

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

If one thing can be said about the current state of the economy is that people should be saving their money as much as possible.  While an innocent statement like that might sound simple, it has proven to be difficult when you live some two blocks away from Walt Disney World like I do.  The temptation to go pick up something from the World of Disney store or even have a meal at my favorite restaurant is a difficult thing to wrestle with.  Fortunately for people with a savings deficiency (like myself), Innoventions has just opened its latest exhibit called the Great Piggy Bank Adventure.


Just like Stormstruck, the Great Piggy bank Adventure is an interactive experience at Epcot’s Illuminations West that aims to encourage guests to save money and wisely invest in hopes of fulfilling a long term goal.  The exhibit is sponsored by the investment firm T. Rowe Price, but thankfully the exhibit is not ruined by the presence of too much product placement.

Guests are initially divided up into teams of three.  The teams first head to a touch screen panel and are introduced to the Piggy Bank, the host for the entire exhibit.  Piggy Bank begins by providing some of the basics of saving and asks the group to pick one of four goals to save for: a renovated bedroom, a dream vacation, college education, or retirement.  Because I have a bad work ethic, I decided to pick retirement.  A full-sized piggy bank is then given to you, which presumably contains your profile data, such as the savings goal you picked, your score, etc.  While it is just a glorified flash drive, it does add a nice touch to the exhibit itself.

Three stations make up the Great Piggy Bank Adventure.  The first station, called “Save It” asks you to save money by playing a game involving falling coins.  Coins of various values begin falling from three places on the top of the screen.  The object of the game is to use sliders to direct the coins into a barrel marked “savings”.  The more you put into that barrel, the more money you put into your piggy bank.  The challenge is that a wolf (get it…pigs…wolves?) continually switches the savings barrel with a spending barrel.  So you are constantly moving the sliders back and forth to direct as much money as possible into the savings barrel.  While the game is best suited for groups of three, I was able to direct all three groups of sliders by myself with ease.  At the end of the game Piggy Bank returns and adds all the money that you saved to your piggy bank. 

The Save It kiosk

The next kiosk is called the “Inflation Race.”  While it is supposed to teach about saving money to stay ahead of inflation, the concept is never explained particularly well.  The game, however, is pretty easy.  Each member of the team stands in front of a lever that moves left to right.  The Piggy Bank, who is riding a balloon powered flying machine (think Dream Finder) is carried by currents of up and down drafts.  Coins, and the wolf, are also present and you must work as a team to maneuver Piggy Bank around the display so he can collect money and avoid obstacles (inflation).  Once again, when the game ends, your piggy bank is returned to you and you move on to the final station.

The final game, Diversity, has you use some of the money you saved for investments.  Coins are placed across the floor of a bedroom.  Throughout the room there are special hiding places for your money that a different numbered multiplier (from x2 to x5).  The goal is to take the money that is placed around your room and hide it in different areas with different multipliers.  This is supposed to represent diversifying your investments.  After a few seconds of moving coins around your room, that pesky wolf sneaks into the room and finds two hiding places and takes all the money that is hidden there.  This, of course, represents when an investment goes bad.  Because you have diversified, you have spread the risk around and the loss of your money in one investment won’t necessarily be harmful to you in the long run.  What money that is not taken during the wolf’s turn is then multiplied.  This goes on for a number of turns and the money that you are able to keep away from the wolf is added to your total. 

Before you exit the exhibit, there is one final stop.  At the last kiosk, you return your piggy bank and find out if you achieved the goal you selected at the beginning of the game.  If you did well, your cartoon pig sprouts wings and flies to the destination you’ve chosen.  If you failed, like I did, Piggy Bank falls short, but does so in an optimistic “Disney way”.   After it is all said and done, the entire exhibit takes about 15 minutes to complete.

A look at the Diversity kiosks (left) and the final kiosks (back)

While the exhibit is not a replacement for an Economics 101 course, it does accomplish its intended purpose of encouraging people to save and wisely invest their money.  Parents will likely find this an excellent tool to start talking to their children about saving money.  Moreover, this game might be the swift kick some adults may need (read: me) to start putting some money away.  It also comes at the right time, as the current state of our economy is less than stellar.

Overall, the Great Piggy Bank Adventure is an excellent addition to Innoventions and continues the trend of creating fun and interactive experiences for guests to help them learn and understand some important issues that affect our lives (e.g., fire safety, waste management, preparing for severe weather, and now, saving and wisely investing your money).  So take some time out of your busy Epcot filled day and try out the Great Piggy Bank Adventure when you have a chance!

The e-Certificate I earned at the end of the Great Piggy Bank Adventure