Home » 8 Ways to Master the New Craze That’s Sweeping Disney Theme Parks

    8 Ways to Master the New Craze That’s Sweeping Disney Theme Parks

    Eat and Hydrate

    Have you ever gone to Disneyland or Walt Disney World in the spring or fall, expecting the parks to be quiet, only to be nearly run over by a horde of people wearing bright yellow lanyards and carrying clipboards? They clearly seemed to be on a mission, but they rushed by before you could find out exactly what was going on.

    While a variety of different events take place in the Disney parks throughout the year, the yellow lanyards are a clue that you might have just witnessed a MouseAdventure. Started at Disneyland in the late 1990s, under the name ADD Quest, this combination scavenger hunt and puzzle game changed its name to MouseAdventure in 2000. It was a smash success on the West Coast, but did not expand to the Florida parks until 2009.

    MouseAdventure is a fiendishly difficult but highly addictive challenge that is sure to humble even the most jaded Disney expert. Each game typically lasts for 6 to 8 hours and is set in one park. For 2013, however, the MouseAdventure team provided an epic 2-day game that covered all 4 Florida parks plus most of the 43 square miles of the Walt Disney World resort!

    My team, the Gate Crashers, has yet to crack the top ten. However, with two MouseAdventures and a related game known as the Ultimate Orlando Challenge under our belts, we have picked up some valuable tips that can help you maximize your chances for success.

    1. Eat and hydrate

    Eat and HydrateEat and HydrateThankfully, our photo quest told us to eat a cupcake!

    At Disneyland, MouseAdventure teams are typically advised to live on snacks rather than full meals. Because the Walt Disney World parks are so much bigger, teams are encouraged to take meal breaks. However, all good MouseAdventurers know that time spent in a food line is time not spent on solving a quest. Yet forgetting to eat and drink at frequent intervals is the number one cause of meltdowns, teammate fights, and dumb mistakes.

    Seasoned MouseAdventurers manage these conflicting priorities by carrying in food and beverages. There are many times throughout the day when your team will need to stop to solve a puzzle or review the next batch of quests. My team implemented a rule to the effect that every time we stopped, each team member was required to eat and drink something. It might be a handful of nuts, a piece of a granola bar, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it was crucial to keep our blood sugar up and our thirst quenched.

    2. Load up on equipment

    Equipment Makes a DifferenceEquipment Makes a DifferenceWe were glad to have packed rain ponchos and other waterproofing equipment!

    You never know exactly what a quest will require you to do, so good MouseAdventurers load up on potentially helpful supplies. We typically carry an array of writing implements, highlighters, graph paper, clipboards, a digital timer, binoculars, and a variety of office supplies such as tape and paper clips. We also bring a small first aid kit with bandages and pain relievers. If rain is predicted, we add ponchos, umbrellas, and such waterproofing supplies as clear plastic folders.

    Remember that you must carry everything you bring all day, including on rides. Distribute the weight between different team members’ backpacks. Make sure your pack does not slow your walking speed or interfere with your ability to manage multiple loose items in your hands.

    3. Follow the rules exactly

    Gate Crashers at the Grand FloridianGate Crashers at the Grand FloridianThe rules stated that our lanyards and our Vinylmation Mickey had to be clearly visible in all Photo Quest photos.

    Before each MouseAdventure event, you will receive an email that specifies the rules for your challenge. You can also read the rules for past events on the MouseAdventure website. Although things change from time to time, most of the basics remain the same. Unless otherwise stated, you are not allowed to use any reference materials or devices beyond the park guide map. This includes books for sale in the park gift shops as well as any electronic device. You are not allowed to ask for or receive help from Disney cast members. All team members must stay together at all times. If one person needs a restroom, everyone must stop and wait. Team members are permitted to skip rides, waiting for the rest of the team at the exit, but all game materials must go on the ride. If you accidentally enter a queue, you must wait in line and experience that ride or attraction.

    There are penalties for breaking a rule, from loss of points to disqualification from the event, so make sure you know and follow every rule. On the other hand, be careful not to assume that an unstated rule is in place. For example, it took until our third quest to realize that it is not necessary to show your work. Educated guessing is allowed, and can help save time in getting to the final answer.

    4. Read and reread the clues

    Hollywood Studios QuestHollywood Studios QuestIf we had reread the clue, we would have saved significant time in this quest!

    MouseAdventure hinges on each team working its way through a batch of printed quests, each containing a multi-step puzzle. You must first find specific obscure details in one section of the park, such as double letters on signs in Fantasyland, and then use that information to solve a puzzle. The solution to the puzzle is the clue to the final answer for the quest, which may or may not be located in the same area of the park.

    This tripped us up badly on the first night of the 2-day 2013 game. The third park of the day was Epcot, and all 3 quests were located in the World Showcase. Feeling both time pressure and exhaustion, we tried to simultaneously work on all 3. We gathered the required information from the different pavilions and then settled under a street lamp near the Norway check-in location to solve all 3 puzzles. We completed the puzzles with 4 minutes to spare, only to realize that the answers to the final clues were located in the store at the bridge to Future World. With no time to run there and back, we realized our entire evening in Epcot had been for naught!

    Read the entire quest before you begin. Read it again after you gather the relevant information, before starting the puzzle. Read it another time after you solve the puzzle, and read it one more time before entering the final solution on your answer sheet. Following this tip would have gained us hundreds of points in both of our MouseAdventure experiences.

    5. Assign specialties

    Angela Tasting Jelly BeansAngela Tasting Jelly BeansAngela proved to be a jelly bean tasting guru, getting them all right! Image: MouseAdventure.

    Each person on your team brings a unique skill set that makes him or her ideally suited to a particular aspect of the game. Some people are especially skilled at math problems, others at crossword puzzles. One teammate might have a keen eye for finding written text on set pieces, while another is excellent at identifying objects from close-up photos. Divide up the tasks according to each team member’s strengths rather than trying to solve everything together or, even worse, haphazardly assigning duties at the last minute.

    6. Time management

    Gate Crashers and a Boardwalk BusGate Crashers and a Boardwalk BusWe spent too long trying to get this photo in front of a bus with the hotel name visible.

    You will receive quests in batches, depending on the specifics of that particular game. As soon as you get a batch, skim through all the quests to make a plan for solving them. Note the point value for each quest, as well as how easy or difficult it seems for your team. Also pay attention to any quest-specific instructions. For example, some quests involve interactions with the MouseAdventure team, such as identifying jelly bean flavors or tying a specific rope knot. Those locations are only staffed during limited hours. Others require a great deal of walking back and forth, gathering items one at a time and delivering them to a designated Mouse Central location.

    Once you have analyzed the relevant data, plan a task order that takes all of the factors into consideration. Then assign time values to each quest. Make a pact with your teammates that if any quest looks like it will run over its allotted time, you will move on to the next, returning to the first one only if you have time at the end.

    We found that a digital timer is one of our most valuable items. For each quest, set the timer for 15 minutes less than the total time value you assigned to that quest. When the timer beeps, take a deep breath and assess your progress. You might decide that those 15 minutes would be better used on your next task.

    7. Think outside the box

    Oversized BlocksOversized BlocksThese oversized blocks weren’t what the game designers had in mind.

    MouseAdventure is purposely designed to challenge even the most ardent Disney experts. Yet creative problem-solving methods are always encouraged and rewarded. For example, part of the 2013 2-day challenge was a photo quest across the Walt Disney World resort. We had to take photos of our entire team, including a MouseAdventure-issued Vinylmation Mickey that we had decorated the night before, doing different things in different places.

    We made up quite a few points in that round by thinking outside the box. One clue instructed us to take a picture with oversized blocks. We immediately thought of the blocks outside the toy store at Downtown Disney, but when we got there, they had been replaced with Christmas decorations. Inside that same store, however, we found large blocks overhead next to the model railroad track. It turned out that the MouseAdventure team was thinking of an entirely different stack of blocks, at one of the All Star resorts, but we got full credit for our photo.

    8. Learn the psychology of the game

    Photo Quest Typhoon LagoonPhoto Quest Typhoon LagoonBecause we understood the psychology of the game, we knew this photo with a closed Typhoon Lagoon behind us would count.

    Although some teams might disagree in the heat of the game, the MouseAdventure writers do not have super powers. Nor do they expect teams to go into areas that are off-limits to the general public. Everything you are looking for is out in the open and readily accessible. It is just obscure, and often hidden in the immensely detailed sets for which Disney is famous.

    To be successful, learn to think like a MouseAdventurer. Review both your knowledge of the parks and your general knowledge of how the real world operates. For example, we got hopelessly stuck on one particular clue in the Magic Kingdom. We needed a specific number to solve a math puzzle, so there was no way to guess. The clue asked us to find the average weight for a woman in a particular year.

    After wasting an hour scouring the photos on the shop walls, and even checking First Aid, my teammate suddenly remembered the old scale in the train station. We ran to the scale and found a small sign with average male and female weights for the relevant year. That bit of park knowledge ensured that we successfully completed the quest.

    MouseAdventure is meant to be fun. It is often frustrating, and the physical pace can be grueling. Yet what keeps teams coming back year after year is the sheer sense of wonder when all the pieces fall into place to solve a particularly challenging quest. Relax, enjoy the process, and trust that every quest does have a logical solution.

    You can find out more about MouseAdventure over at MousePlanet.