When I was little, I loved having birthday parties with friends and cake and presents. When I turned 16, I had just moved back to the U.S., was living in a hotel, and barely knew anyone. That was pretty much the end of the parties, aside from a few surprise parties over the years. I even started leaving town for my birthday, so I was never around to celebrate. When I was looking into where to go this year, I found the Race LA website and was thrilled to discover that their Disneyland scavenger hunt fell on my birthday this year. I convinced my brother and sister to join my team (Kashmir Club WC – for West Coast) and we signed up, just in time. I learned that their events usually sell out and I’m not surprised, having done one now. This was one of my most fun birthdays ever! Continue reading for a full race recap.
The Disneyland scavenger hunt is part of Race LA’s City Race series. The City Races are scavenger hunts in various neighborhoods around LA and, now, Disneyland. The race director said this was their second time doing the race at Disneyland. The first one was obviously a big success, because there are two more scheduled (November and January) and a new City Race in Disney California Adventure in March.
I didn’t know what to expect, except that we had to bring the “ticket” with us for access to the event. We also had to have park entry, because most of the race takes place inside Disneyland. I say most, because we had to solve a clue outside the park before we learned our first stop inside the park. We arrived at about 7:45 am and found the race leaders near House of Blues in Downtown Disney. After checking in, we received a Race LA button for each member of the team and a sealed envelope marked “Do Not Open Until Instructed.” To avoid being detained by other park-goers asking questions, we were given cards to hand out, rather than stop racing to explain what we were doing. While waiting, we sized up the competition, admiring the various team t-shirts. Finally, the race director had us gather around the steps of House of Blues while he made a brief introduction, then gave us the rules and instructions (all team members must stay together, no running, asking others for help is fine, etc.). A photograph of the group (55 teams) was taken and we were allowed to open the envelope.
Inside was our first clue. There were eight images on the page, and we had to put list them in the order of the movie release date. There were only three lines for marking down our answers (luckily). Each team had to stand in line to give their answers to a race leader. If the team got the question wrong, they had to go back to the end of the line and try again. After three tries, you got the next clue (I know that from our experience, sadly).
The next clue had a small picture of a character stapled to it and directed us to a “Central” area. The clue was a list of four characters and you had to match your character from the small picture to the character on the sheet and solve the clue, which was a series of numbers with directional arrows, to get your next answer. Most teams ran for the parks, but we took a chance and went to the monorail station in Downtown Disney. The parks had just opened and we didn’t want to get stuck in the security and park access lines. There were no lines for the monorail and a train was pulling up just as we got through security, so we jumped on and struggled with our clue the entire way. We could not figure it out. We headed towards the Hub (its true name is Central Plaza), and figured out the clue immediately.
The instructions sent us to Snow White’s Scary Adventure and the race leader there gave us our next clue, which involved riding Snow White’s Scary Adventure and looking at the clue during the black light area to get the next location, which was Fantasy Faire.
At Fantasy Faire, we were given a map and a series of pictures of signs with only some letters of one word showing. Next to each picture was a place to write in the full text of the word, with some of the letters landing in white boxes. The letters in those white boxes had to be unscrambled to find the location where we would (finally) get our clue book, but only between 9:15 – 10 am and it was already 8:45! We solved most of them, until we took a break to gather the letters and were able to solve the puzzle without finding all of the signs. We hurried to Mickey’s House in Toon Town and were third in line! The first 5 teams received bonus points starting with 50 points for first place and we got 25 points for being third. It wasn’t quite 9:15, so we had to wait. We were so excited. Only one team showed up after us before 9:15, so we knew we had a pretty good lead. At 9:15, the race leader gave us our clue book and marked our bonus points on our answer sheet. We then had until 12:30 to get as many answers as we could and get to Rancho del Zocalo for the finale.
The clue book was a set of pages attached to a ring clip, so we could look at any section we wanted, in any order. There were clues for each land, plus some “unknown location” questions and a set of pictures to take around the parks. Correct answers were worth either 5 or 10 points. We started with the Toon Town questions, going to some locations and using the internet to solve others. We ended up solving about 80 percent of the clues before we had to head back to Rancho del Zocalo. We missed a few of the photos and only got two of the “unknown location” answers. At Rancho del Zocalo, there were two stops at the finish – first, your answer sheet was marked with the time your team finished and second, your answers were checked. We tried to keep solving clues until we actually checked in, at which point we stopped. We did see others continuing to answer clues while they waited for their answers to be checked, but we stopped as soon as our time was marked.
We all waited in the reserved area at Rancho del Zocalo while the results were tabulated. Placement was determined by two factors: i) the number of points each team earned and ii) the time the team checked in. After the results were ready, the race director went through the clues and answers, with the teams shouting out answers. The maximum number of points that could have been earned was 430, which only one team could earn, because of the bonus points. The top 10 teams each received a prize, so the race director started calling out the teams from the 10th place team, asking the teams to gather in one area for a group picture at the end. We hadn’t taken the time to calculate the number of points we had earned, so we had no idea where we might place. Imagine our surprise when we were called up for 8th place! We were handed an envelope (we won one (1) Disney dollar!) and stood ready for the team photo. The 7th place team had the exact same score, so they must have checked in before we had. The first place team had earned 410 points! They were right in front of us for bonus points, so they only missed 10 other points (either one 10-point clue or two 5-point clues) to score so well. Very impressive!
After the group photo, we were given an opportunity to look at our answer sheet and I’m glad I did. One of our answers was marked wrong, but was, in fact, right. The question had to do with the sound a certain forbidden fruit makes near a scary adventure (I’m paraphrasing, because I can’t remember the exact clue and we weren’t allowed to keep either the clue book or the answer sheet). Our answer was “thunder claps and the witch’s cackle.” The answer announced during the event was “witch’s laugh.” Those of you who have dared to touch the brass apple know that most times, the witch’s cackle is all that is heard; however, one time in I don’t know how many, there is a thunder clap and a witch’s cackle. I asked the race director about it and he immediately said that my answer was right and, when the official results were posted on facebook, we had moved into 7th place! Always check your answers!!
We had a blast! If I lived in Southern California, I would participate in every one of these events. The recommended minimum age is 14, but there’s no actual age limit. I look forward to running this event with my nieces some day. Smart phones are allowed, so you don’t have to have prior knowledge of Disney history. You set your own pace (aside from having to get the clue book by 10 am) and can answer as many or as few clues as you want. I highly recommend this event, so sign up early, because they sell out fast! The next Disneyland event is Sunday, November 23, 2014 and a second Mickey’s Mysterious Map Scavenger Hunt will take place on January 25, 2015.