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
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
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
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
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.