In this guest post, travel agent and mom of two shares her experience with an interactive outdoor adventure in Vancouver. If you enjoy escape room games or Amazing Race, read on to find out what it’s like to do it yourself!
I was looking forward all week to staying home on Saturday to binge-watch mindless romantic comedies. It would be the perfect way to unwind and relax after a very long and stressful week. I had big plans to stay in my pajamas all weekend; I was going to bake some Levain-inspired cookies and indulge in them while lounging on my couch for my chick-flick marathon. However, that masterplan turned out to be one big wishful fantasy when our friends invited us to join them in an “Alice in Wonderland” interactive outdoor adventure in Vancouver.
My first instinct was to say no. Honestly, I wouldn’t even say that the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Every fibre of my being just really wanted to stay home and get cozy with my TV, but because I knew my kids would really enjoy the experience and I love my kids so much (kids, take note if you are reading this!!), I decided to be altruistic and sacrifice my precious Saturday morning to trudge the busy streets of Vancouver. This action has to go onto the wall of fame as the ultimate gesture of motherly love because it’s against my principles to venture downtown on a weekend without being held at knife-point.
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What’s an Immersive Outdoor Experience?
So, what exactly did I sign myself up for? This interactive outdoor adventure was organized by CluedUpp, the largest geo-gaming company in the world. To date, they have organized fun and innovative events in over 1200 locations and more than 80 countries worldwide. These events bring families and friends together as they work collaboratively to solve clues, puzzles and mysteries in their own city, which has been transformed into an exciting setting of adventure and intrigue.
After waking up at an unearthly hour on a Saturday, we made the one-hour drive to downtown Vancouver. Parking was atrociously expensive as one would expect, but again, sacrifices have to be made in the name of fun. We met our friends and were all perked up to start the game. The kids were all immensely excited and seeing their enthusiasm and watching them grin from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat (pardon my pun) made me feel like my sacrifice might be worthwhile after all.
Starting the Experience
We quickly loaded up the CluedUpp app and read the instructions and off we went scurrying down a rabbit-hole to save Alice in Wonderland before the Queen of Hearts beheaded her. We spent the next couple of hours glued to our phones trying to decipher clues and solve mysterious challenges which got curiouser and curiouser. Saving Alice required both mental and physical agility.
We had to run (okay, to say that the whole team ran would be an exaggeration… it was more like a moderately brisk walk; the only person who ran was our fearless leader, Alan. Thank you, Alan, for taking one for the team!!) around downtown Vancouver to decode clues from our surroundings and solve puzzles and challenges.
We had watched the Disney cartoon prior to the CluedUpp event but in retrospect, we could have navigated the game without having watched the movie or read Lewis Carroll’s classic book. However, I suppose to fully appreciate the theme and the characters and to really get into the adventure, it would be a good idea to revisit the story beforehand. Some questions were tricky and required me to use a little more grey cells than I had intended to use on a Saturday morning, but the clues were not overly brain-numbing despite my lack of caffeine perk that morning.
Chasing Clues—and Prizes!
There were many prizes that we could win as part of this interactive outdoor adventure, including Fastest Team, Best Fancy Dress (Alice in Wonderland inspired), Best Team Picture, Best Team Name, Best Mini Player (Under 16’s Prize) and Pawesome Pooch (Best Dog Photo).
Well, I knew we weren’t going to win the Fastest Team prize because our team was made of either people with chubby legs (me), lazy legs (hubby) or short legs (kids). I also knew we weren’t going to win the Best Fancy Dress because I was too lazy and too cheap to invest in creative costumes for a one-off event (perhaps I might be a little more motivated if the prize was $1m). Unless we intend to dress up as Alice in Wonderland characters for Halloween for the next 10 years, I have better use of my time and money.
We did however see many people and their four-legged friends who had some really nice and creative costumes. Kudos to everyone who made an effort to dress up and a special shout out to the moms or dads as well (where do they find the energy or time to do that??).
Well, that left us with one category where we could perhaps snag a prize on our interactive outdoor adventure. That would be the Best Team Name. Our friends came up with the name Absoleum Winner (named after the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland), which I thought was a clever play on words for “Absolute Winner.” We haven’t heard back from the CluedUpp organizers yet so I suppose it would be safe to say that we didn’t snag that prize either. I did see some creative team names on the app, so bye-bye Best Team Name prize!
Completing the Experience
Oh and if you are interested, we completed our outdoor interactive adventure with an “impressive” time of 2 hours 53 minutes. Did I mention that “short legs” were hungry and demanded a snack break an hour into the game? Fortunately, we were able to pause the game, so we headed to Burger King for a quick refuel. In hindsight, Burger King was a lousy choice for refueling. Chubby legs (aka me) had a serious case of food coma and junk food-induced inertia after inhaling a Whopper in record time (if only they had a prize for that!). Anyways, the fastest team completed the race in 57 minutes (show offs!!).
All in all, it was a fun way to spend time with family and friends. It was fantastic and heartwarming seeing everyone—especially the kids—work together so well in a team. It was also impressive to see the kids decipher clues so quickly before the adults could solve them. Would I do it again? Well, in all honesty…. I guess the answer is a shocking yes (gasp!!!)!! Why?
The excitement and smiles I saw on their faces, the camaraderie and team spirit I witnessed, the adrenaline level of everyone—I couldn’t get that out of a TV. I will have to admit it was a far better way to spend a Saturday morning than lounging in my pajamas all day. But sshhhh… don’t tell my kids that. The next time they ask to do this, I’ll like them to think that I’m making the biggest sacrifice getting my butt off the couch. Perhaps I could guilt-trip them into doing extra chores for my ultimate gesture of motherly love. 🙂
Image credit: Depositphotos (Lin was too busy chasing kids and clues to take pictures during her adventure).
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