Ultimate Orlando Challenge: AKA, This Is a “Mini” MouseAdventure?April 30, 2014 No Comments
Dad and I, along with my best friend Angela, began competing in MouseAdventure’s annual Walt Disney World events in 2012. Part scavenger hunt, part trivia competition, part endurance test, the events are exciting but exhausting. They’re also addictive. When we learned the Walt Disney World MouseAdventure was cancelled for 2014, we were devastated.
Enter Kevin Yee. A well-known Disney blogger, he was also Angela’s teacher for an online course on Disney princesses in spring 2014. He was part of the original MouseAdventure design and production team, but left the California-based group when he moved to Florida. Unbeknownst to us, he began running similar events, but with a shorter timeframe and at no charge, in 2005.
Angela emailed me in a fit of excitement on a random weekday. She had just heard that Kevin was running one of his events, known as “The Ultimate Orlando Challenge,” at Epcot that Sunday. Dad and I were just recovering from major head colds, but we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I gave her the go-ahead, and the “Gate Crashers” (our MouseAdventure team name) were back in business.
The instructions told us to meet in the hallway behind Epcot’s Club Cool, a pavilion featuring Coca-Cola products from around the world, at 1 p.m. The game would be over at 5. We knew Kevin would build a jam-packed, exciting event, but with only four hours, we imagined an extremely scaled down mini-MouseAdventure.
We arrived at the meetup location shortly before 1:00. Kevin went over the rules, which were wildly different than those of MouseAdventure. While that game prohibits the use of cell phones, the compressed time frame and heavy focus on trivia in the Ultimate Orlando Challenge made them essential. Yet Kevin warned us that many of the questions would be unanswerable based solely on Google searching.
Promptly at 1:30 p.m., the 22 teams dispersed based on a scatter quest. Designed to prevent teams from bunching up in one location, the quest sent us to different parts of Epcot’s World Showcase. As team captain, Angela randomly selected and popped a balloon to learn our first destination. We were unlucky, as we had to travel to Italy, at the far side of the World Showcase, to write down some information from a sign in front of the restaurant. When we returned to Club Cool with the correct answer, we received our first main quest, known as a Secret Mission.
Huffing and puffing from the mile-plus run to Italy and back, Angela laughingly told Kevin the scatter quest was “evil.” He smiled as he handed us the Secret Mission, saying, “You’re going to think this is a joke, but it’s completely serious.” The Secret Mission required us to leave Epcot and make our way to the Wilderness Lodge, a Disney resort hotel located near the Magic Kingdom, not Epcot! After finishing that quest, we would turn our answer sheets back in at Club Cool before receiving our next mission.
We opted to take the bus, which allowed all three of us to work on the lengthy trivia sheet along the way. As promised, many of the trivia answers were not readily available online. Along with other teams, we spent the ride to Wilderness Lodge watching grainy ride-through YouTube videos of different attractions and trying to figure out exactly what we were looking for.
At Wilderness Lodge, we were required to search the lobby for specific items and then solve problems or questions based on those things. For example, we had to locate a replica train engine and write down the number engraved on the train. It took us a few extra minutes to locate the last item, and we left the lobby shortly after the people with whom we had shared a bus. Fortunately, we caught up with them at the bus stop outside, waiting for a ride back to Epcot.
We solved almost all of the trivia, and turned everything in at Club Cool. The next portion of the game consisted of three separate quests that took us to different countries in the World Showcase. We were required to solve one quest at a time, returning the answer sheet to Club Cool to collect the next quest. We also received a Photo Quest sheet with a list of clues to signs located throughout the World Showcase. We were allowed to work on the Photo Quest throughout the day, turning it in with our final quest. The end of the game was promptly at 4:30, and all teams were warned that we would lose 5 points per minute for tardiness.
We ended up completing two of the three World Showcase quests along with the Wilderness Lodge Secret Mission, most of the trivia and the majority of the Photo Quest. Dashing back to Club Cool from the other side of the World Showcase, we managed to turn in our materials at 4:30 on the dot. Overheated and exhausted, we collapsed in the Club Cool hallway alongside the other teams to wait for the 5 p.m. results.
As it turned out, we placed 7th out of 22 teams. We would have done better had we not overthought one clue, and misidentified a caribou as an elk in another challenge. Still, we learned a lot from our previous MouseAdventure competitions, and we were proud of ourselves.
Tips for Parents
The Ultimate Orlando Challenge is shorter than a traditional MouseAdventure, and is free to join (other than park admission, of course), but it is in no way simpler or easier. We genuinely felt that the game packed a full day of MouseAdventure into a three-hour endurance run. Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time and would not hesitate to do it again.
Even small children will get a kick out of looking around for specific items. If your kids are old enough to read, consider using the game as an educational tool, asking them to read the clues and relevant signs. However, the required level of stamina is quite high, and little legs could easily become overtired. If you have young kids on your team, consider using a stroller for the day.
We opted to use the boat across the World Showcase Lagoon a few times. It might have cost us some time, as the boats run every 15 minutes, but with Dad’s bad back, the chance to sit down periodically was invaluable. When racing with kids, taking advantage of Disney transportation can mean the difference between having fun and having a miserable time. Use sunscreen, carry plenty of water and remember to drink every few minutes.