Throughout two days for a total of 13 hours, 520 teams competed across all four Walt Disney World theme parks in the second-ever D23 Great Disney Scavenger Hunt. Disney presented teams of 2-4 people with 379 questions of varying difficulty, requiring each to scour Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the answers with the hopes of winning the grand prize, a 3-night preview voyage aboard the Disney Fantasy cruise ship when it launches in 2012.
My team entered the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt with the goal of winning. Our team name was the Junior Woodchucks, a Duck Tales reference, and consisted of myself, my wife Michelle, and two friends Kenny and Kurt.
Kenny and I met as co-winners of the Disney Dream Job contest a few years ago (he was a pirate, I was a Haunted Mansion Butler) and knew we, along with Michelle and Kurt, had a good chance of claiming victory over this Hunt.
Unfortunately, that didn’t prove to be the case, as we made a handful of silly mistakes that ultimately gave us third place. The results were announced on the night of the second Hunt day at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. And here’s a video of the big announcement:
Yep, we were behind first place by a mere 8 points. Our total of 804 was 1 point behind the 805 score of second place and 8 behind first place, at 812. But we’re not upset. Third place out of 520 teams is an incredible achievement that we’re proud of, even if we didn’t win a cruise.
But wait. Back up. Let’s go over how we got there.
Great Disney Scavenger Hunt recap
Each team was assigned one of the four parks as a starting point. We were told to start at Epcot, the only park that was given four hours of hunting time (versus three at the other parks). As it turned out, we would need every second on our way to the top.
At check-in, question books were piled high, waiting to be answered.
And a long line formed nearby, with everyone eager to begin the Hunt.
So let’s get started.
Questions were divided into point levels. Most were 1-point questions, which required hunters to go to one location, find a sign, character, or other park item, and answer a simple observational question about it. Example:
According to the outdoor signage with gold lettering, what three categories of goods does the Fjording offer at the Norway pavilion?
It’s certainly not something anyone would know by memory, but a quick trip to Norway offered the answer. (Folkcrafts, Knitwear, and Collectibles)
5-point questions were a bit more difficult, requiring multiple stops or actions before finding an answer. Example:
At the “Inside Track” post show at Test Track, perform a little motor math using the series of illustrations that showcase the cars Goofy has test driven:
– Add together the design numbers of the Air Pump Car and the Rocking Car
– Subtract that sum from the design number of the Car Chase Car
Identify the Epcot attraction that corresponds with that number on the park guidemap and write the attraction’s name as your answer.
It’s not a difficult task, but a bit more time-consuming. And it requires math. When you’re moving as fast as is necessary to complete all the questions in the given time frame, math becomes much more difficult. But we’re confident we got this one right. (I don’t remember the answer.)
Finally, 10-point questions really test speed, thinking, some Disney knowledge, and willingness to walk from one side of a theme park to another. Example:
Identify the Stars of an Innoventions exhibit presented by Underwriters Laboratories
Go to the other Epcot attraction that features these stars
Facing that attraction from its entrance, identify the facility located to your immediate left
As your answer, write the names of the characters that appear on a marquee for this location
Each step of the question needs a little figuring out. What is the exhibit sponsored by UL? (Test The Limits Lab, featuring Timon and Pumba) What other Epcot attraction has the same characters? (Circle of Life in The Land) Once all that is figured out, we had to go over there and track down the other sign it was referring to. The answer was Chip ‘n Dale, as featured on the Garden Grill sign.
Each question on its own is solvable. But cramming all of the questions into a 3- or 4-hour window is the tough part. Surprisingly few of the questions required riding attractions, though I suppose that was good as those rides eat up a lot of time. But I would have actually preferred more rides with tougher questions in fewer numbers. As is, the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt was more about endurance than anything else.
To complete as many questions as we did, we speed walked through the entire event. No bathroom breaks. Only one brief water stop per park. At Epcot, we rode Maelstrom, Gran Fiesta Tour, and Living with the Land. If we had more time, we would have ridden Spaceship Earth too. At Magic Kingdom, we only rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we only rode Dinosaur. And at Disney’s Hollywood Studios… we rode nothing. The vast majority of the Great Disney Scavenger Hunt was spent moving from place to place, answering questions along the way.
If you came here looking for the key to our success, I can’t really offer much. We tried to organize the questions, as the books didn’t sort them by land or attraction, but we saw a lot of teams doing that too. We also tried to answer as many as possible from our own park knowledge, but that only resulted in a handful of answers. In the end, it was hard work and non-stop movement that enabled us to finish almost all of the questions. We made a few silly mistakes along the way that led to our third place finish rather than first or second. Looking back, we easily could have gotten first place had we spent just a few extra minutes on a few key questions. But then again, we didn’t have any extra minutes, as we turned in each park’s answer book with only seconds to spare.
I think most of all, the key to our success was that we had fun. Yes it was hard, exhausting work in extremely hot weather, but we always kept in mind that we were in a Disney theme park at a Disney event and should be having fun! We saw plenty of other teams looking upset or concentrating far too hard. Instead, we were joking, smiling, and laughing our way through as much as possible. And I think keeping that high spirit helped us push through to the end.
For our third place finish, we will be receiving the following prizes, worth $407.50:
TRON: Legacy Reconfigured CD, Bambi DVD/Blu-ray, Destination D: Disneyland 55 pin set, D23 Launch Day pin set, Sherman Brothers Songbook CD, Walt Disney World pin, Destination D: Disneyland ’55 single pin, Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2011, Adventures by Disney pin, 3″ Vinylmation, Monorail patch, Disneyland ’55 fan, Radio Disney pen, a WDCC figurine, D23 Epcot Future World logo patch, Adventures by Disney pin set, Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 DVD/Bluray, Incredibles DVD/Bluray.
We’re quite proud of how we ended up and we look forward to receiving our prizes in the mail in the near future. More importantly, we’ve learned a lot from this experience and are ready to win the next Great Disney Scavenger Hunt! Bring it on, D23.