So now I had my adventures, but how in the heck was I going to reproduce the race? Probably the most important piece of the show is the envelopes. The teams are always running towards clue boxes where they have to retrieve a distinct-looking envelope with an even more distinctive pull tear. Inside are clues that include road blocks, fast forwards, and detours. I knew that I could spend a chunk of time creating these, but with some searching online I came across this little gem of a web site and rejoiced in the fact that I had just gained about ten hours of time! The site gave me beautiful templates that fit perfectly into the tear envelopes, complete with a link to buy them.
Now the fun began – my forte, planning! I started “Disney-style” with a nice big spreadsheet. I then entered our travel time, meals at restaurants I knew that I wanted to try, the four scheduled adventures, and some down time. Each day involved between two and five different clue envelopes. The most clues were on travel days, to help keep the kids amused during the “boring” parts. Some were individual tasks and some involved different variations on teams.
My detours, fast forwards and road blocks included:
• Finding facts about Puerto Rico in the airport bookstore
• Splitting up into teams to shop for two separate lists of groceries
• Finding shells and sea glass
• Completing the four adventures
• Serving Mom and Dad dinner after a cooking lesson
• Tasting a different food – plantains, roasted pork from roadside vendors, empanadillas, coconut
• Writing down Spanish words, facts about Puerto Rico, and what they had learned
• And much more…
Here are some tips we learned along the way:
• Include the directions, grocery list, confirmation numbers, and contact information on the cards. This made our lives really easy (just like the PassPorter pockets!) The girls ripped open an envelope and everything we needed was inside. We were ready to go
• The kids not only loved the race, but it actually eliminated complaints and fears. They took it seriously, and did what they needed to finish the tasks. My youngest, who hates being sticky, didn’t even mention the four hours spent covered in sand and salt. My oldest conquered snorkeling because she was determined to complete the road block.
• Travel time to our destinations became fun. The excitement of the race made the time in the car part of the adventure. The kids helped with maps, and used our iPhone GPS to follow where we were going.
• Even people who didn’t know the Amazing Race were happy to help us. I had to do a lot of “clue distribution,” which usually meant slipping a clue to a random person – security guard in the airport, flight attendant, horse-back guide... I just said “We are playing a game, would you please give this to the girls” and they were happy, sometimes elated, to participate. The excited JetBlue flight attendant actually delivered the clue in the big basket of snacks.
• The girls knew that the race wasn’t real but they pretended it was. They never even questioned it. When plans didn’t work out or we decided to skip something there were no complaints.
Our final "pit stop" was on Christmas Eve (wow, my kids are spoiled), complete with the Travelocity gnome waiting out front, the final clue written on the bottom, and Grandma and Grandpa waiting on our pit stop mat. We just couldn't justify the $40 for this little number. So, the moral of the story? You can be a Disney planner anywhere. I find great joy in organizing, planning and dreaming, so this was a perfect challenge for me. Amazing Race made our trip into an adventure we will never forget.
Leg 5: Trot and Chop
Horseback riding on the beautiful beach 007 - photo by justinefellows
About the Author: Justine is the Author of PassPorter's Disney Speed Planner e-book. Rumor has it, Justine's love of Disney World stems from being deprived by her non-Disney parents. Much to their dismay, she has more than made up for it with more than 15 trips under her belt!
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