Our Disney Vacation - Surprise Disney / Legoland Vacation Treasure Hunt Pt 2 (with video)

This is how we revealed our Disneyland & Legoland vacation to our four kids!
We looked into flying, it was just not feasible for us. We have to pay for 5 plane tickets on a pretty small budget. We decided to drive. It was a pretty great decision! I would totally do it again!

(Car all packed and ready to go)
Pros: 
We paid $100 max for hotels/night that included our FREE breakfasts! 
Fuel cost us under $400 USD from Southern Alberta to Southern California and home again! 
Food was cheap, we stopped at Subway, In n Out burger and ordered in pizza. We fed our family for an average of under $25/meal on travel days.
Mom planned tons of activities and had i-pads for back up - the kids rocked it! 
The scenery isn't all that bad, it was fun driving through 6 states!

Cons: 
It took us 26 hours car running time on the way down and about the same on the way home
We had to wait 3 days to get to Disneyland
We drove 2 days on the way home, because we wanted to save money and time. 
One of us got car sick, twice...

So we decided to make our trip a surprise! Although we have talked about going to Disneyland for the last year at least, our kids had no idea we actually booked the trip! 

I searched for ideas for THE BIG REVEAL, love a lot of them but wanted something original! I saw a few scavenger hunt ideas to reveal the trip but thought what about if I did a treasure hunt all the way to Anaheim?! Clues along the way to keep the kids focused on the next stop not the final destination. IT WORKED! So here is how it all went down!

First I created the clues and treasure map. The clues were printed on paper, crumpled up and tea dyed. The map was printed from google maps, crumpled up, tea dyed and drawn on to make it look original and old. (Details found HERE)

We decided the surprise would be most effective if we packed the car while the kids were asleep the night before, let the morning routine go on as usual but tell the boys we are going to pick Adalie up around noon from school. They didn't even question the idea. 

We told Adalie's teachers before hand. We stopped at the school, I ran into the school told her to grab her stuff we were leaving. She was so caught off guard. She got to the car and had NO idea what was happening.

(Travel Binder in action)
We told her we were off to fuel up the Yukon. We were on an adventure. 
On the way to the next gas station I read the first clue

CLUE 1
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
On this day, on North American ground,
A grand adventure can be found.
For ye bold of heart and quick of mind
Untold treasures ye will find.
Ye shall leave the land of Tilley
And treasure hunters ye shall be
So gather your pillows, blankets and shoes

It’s okay to start off with a lil’ snooze.
Ye be headed off to the land of Coutts
Where ye next country will be introduced
Ye are off, an adventure treasure hunt there be
a treasure to find that you’ll want to see

A TREASURE HUNT?!?! The kids cheered with excitement and couldn't wait for the next clue!
 We were off to the land of Coutts. The kids seriously thought pirates put us up to this treasure hunt. The thought of not having a chest of gold at the end of the hunt worried me, would they be upset we tricked them? Adalie then said in my moment of doubt "I am going to get a golden cup from the treasure and sell it to get money for Disneyland" There was a moment of relief, she wouldn't have to go through the trouble ;)



 (The boys loved the mini tracks I made for their lap desks)

We made it almost to the border and once we entered the United States of America I read clue two...


(Adalie wearing Daddy's glasses)
CLUE 2
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Avast, you have made it to stop one
Don’t quit now you are on a run
Ye be leaving ye country you’ve born and raised
For a long journey your parent’s have saved
United States of America this place be
New sites for us all to see
But first ye must answer a riddle
Don’t worry it be only little
Ye next clue can be found
At a big store, ye sign be round
Peter Pan’s arrow will hit bulls eye
A red ________in the sky

(Flag in Great Falls, MT)

We were off to Target in Great Falls for a few little things for the trip and then read the next clue


 (Everett Decided to draw on himself before we got to Target)

After Target we read Clue #3

CLUE 3
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Ye have grabbed what the will need for the trip
Its time to get some sleep, be well rested for the next tip
Rest up for an adventurous day tomorrow
Get to bed early, or there will be great sorrow
Don’t you worry, this only be ye beginning
This pirate’s sure at the end ye’ will be grinning
Tollin Family - enjoy your night
Clue 4 will arrive when the sun gets bright 

We stopped in Helena, MT for the night. The hotels were all booked up so we ended up staying at the Super 8, not the newest or prettiest hotel by far but it was clean and the free breakfast was great!
Then we were off to read Clue #4

CLUE 4
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Avast, you’ve rested and ate well I recalls
Ye now be on your way to Idaho Falls
Ahoy you’ve almost traveled one whole state
Montana, next Idaho, be there in no time at this rate!
Sit back and enjoy the ride to yer next stop
Share some snacks with ye neighbor or even swap
Once ye reach head down Broadway Street
To a little place ye’ll have a picnic and eat
Snake River Green Belt it be known as
Be sure to snap some pictures, stretch thee legs ye has
Enjoy thee falls and search for ye next clue
It be along River Parkway, where flowers thee grew

 (on the way out of Montana we stopped for a family photo)

 (a little break to change the babe)
 Idaho Falls! We stopped at Carls Jr... Um greasy food alert... and had our picnic


 Family photo at Idaho Falls, Idaho
 said hello to some of our Canadian friends before finding the next clue
Can I just add, our stops were planned out perfectly! I tried not to go farther than 3-4 hours between stops! That seemed to be the kids limit and so it worked great! If you are driving on a road trip through Idaho Falls, STOP! It seriously was the greatest location for the kids to run and burn off their energy! 

Cam found the next clue and we were off...

CLUE 5
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Ahoy Matey! Stop four thee have reach
No quitting yet, there be treasure for each
Next drive is longer but sites there to see
Yer entering a new state called Utah, that’s three
Ye will pass through the capital, Salt Lake City
Mountains and lakes, sites be Arr! So pretty
Ye then will reach Provo that’s stop number five
Ye’ll grab some dinner after a few cities ye drive
Yer next clue be found off ye beaten way
At ye restaurant, at the counter ye will pay
Be sure to order a special treat
Then next clue ye be given before ye reach thee seat
Driving through Salt Lake City, UT isn't always fun... and we were warned prior to going. We went at 5pm... which could have been bad but only got delayed about a half hour... I have heard worse!
We stopped at a Subway downtown Provo Utah. It was a little more off the beaten path than we expected but our GPS led us there. It was still very good and cheap!
After that we read Clue 6.

CLUE 6
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Alast, you have fed your little tummy, four
Ye are over half way there! Stops today? One more!
Ye have not reached the treasure I fear
But we will be staying the night at a hotel with our gear
Beaver Utah is our next stop, isn’t that cool
Quick if ye hurry ye’ll swim at the indoor pool
Once you arrive, rest up and get some sleep
Only three more stops before ye reach the treasure ye keep
Yer next clue be left while ye be fast asleep
In the car where daddy ye coffee he keep
In the morning ye rise and shine, eat breakfast and load
A riddle to solve the next clue to be showed

No photos of this one, but we stopped at the Comfort Inn in Beaver, UT... HIGHLY recommend this hotel! Very nice and clean! Free breakfast was perfect for us! It was a great stay! Much better than our first night!

When we woke up we got packed up and headed to the vehicle for the next clue

CLUE 7
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Morning Matey, I trust ye slept well
Yer back on ye adventure, if ye be excited yell!
A riddle to solve to get yer next stop
Sorry mommy, there is no time to shop
Our next stop, won’t be a city or the ocean blue
Opa and Oma are here half the year, where Grandma just flew
The drive ye be beautiful through desert mountains we drive
Ye won’t see lakes or bodies of water, not even trees survive
On the state sign there be one star
Can you guess where ye be headed? The clue not be far
_ R   _ Z _ _ A

Off to Arizona

 Driving through Utah

 Near St George, Utah
 We forgot to stop and get a photo so we stopped at St George at a gas station for a photo, tried to get some mountains in the back. HA!
 (St George, Utah)
We stopped in Arizona and took a break to get our next clue

Cam scoped it out for snakes and scorpions first - HA! Paranoid mama here!
Family Photo in AZ
 They made it to the top... and then we got our next clue

CLUE 8
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Ye guessed correctly, ye reached Arizona state
No cities ye will pass but hit stop six of eight
Yer next stop be short as you fill up for gas
Only two more stops and then the treasure, alas!
Ye next stop be full of music and lights
A busy city that won’t die at night
Daddy watches ye favorite pawn shop on TV
Located in this city you see
The state be Nevada where this city lies
Scallywags play games here to win a prize
Can you take a guess? Maybe use a decoder tool
The same one we use sometimes at Sunday School



A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
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10
11
12
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14
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16
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18
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12   1   19      22   5   7   1   19

LAS VEGAS, Adalie got it pretty quick after she got the first part. She thought seeing the Pawn Stars was our treasure... She was a little disappointed we weren't off to see them.

On our way to Nevada

 We stopped for lunch at IN-N-OUT and ate for under $13!

CLUE 9
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Ye got it! ye reached Las Vegas in Nevada
Don’t ye worry, ye have not come this far to get nada
Ye have collected eight clues of ye treasure hunt adventure
Are ye ready to discover what ye be treasure?
Only one stop more on this Grand Tollin Family Treasure Hunt
I have some bad news… sorry to be so blunt
The Adventure doesn't end at stop number Eight
But me be sorry, ye will just have to wait
California state is our final destination
You will discover the treasure at the next location
Sit back and enjoy the remainder of our travels
Ye will get the next clue and then thee surprise unravels

Driving through Las Vegas, Nevada

 We stopped for a family photo in Nevada and then we were off

 Driving through Vegas

Once we almost arrived at our hotel... we read the final clues...

CLUE 10

Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Alas! ye final clue
Are ye ready to guess! Ye be through!
Ye be Lego lovers young and old
In the Tollin family me be told
Think back to that night daddy and mommy created
A movie they said the premier awaited
The time has come! Do you believe it be true?
Grab a snack, sit back and quietly chew
The treasure you have finally found

It’s the big surprise! Quick Daddy turn up the sound!

We then popped in our Lego movie Cam and I made that we had added the kids' saying the script with out having a clue. I used my phone voice recorder and got them to say different things and then added in our lines and there's to make the video...
Our Video

video
 The Kids' Reaction...
video


This was the final clue we read at the end of the video... It wasn't until then did the kids get what their treasure was!

CLUE 11
Ahoy there Tollin Family, Gather ‘round
Arr! Did we surprise you?
Perhaps you guessed where ye be headed to
Ye Daddy and Mommy love thee so much
Ye can’t believe the Adventure and such?
Ye off to Downtown Disney for dinner
Ye will be at Disney tomorrow to see the inner
Four days at Disney and one Legoland
And bet ye thought this trip be unplanned
Even have time to see the ocean ye first time
And play on the beach it will be prime
Be on your best behavior this week
We have reached the Happiest Place on Earth we seek
Daddy and Mommy are so proud of you four

Soak in these memories you’ll forever adore

 Our Hotel - The Best Western Pavilions Plus
 The view from the parking lot of Disneyland
 View from our hotel area (we were on the far end of the hotel in room 130, at the very end on the bottom and it was nice and quiet)
 Walking to Downtown Disney
 Palm trees... LOVE
 Downtown Disney
 Lego store in Downtown Disney

 Dinner at the Rainforest Caf


Watch our whole Treasure Hunt Video Here!


Stay tuned for much more on our Disney/Lego vacation! Many tips and what we learned to come!

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