What it is: A dress-in-disguise mall scavenger hunt modeled after the seek-and-find children’s books (which, I never knew until now, are originally the British Where’s Wally? books, only Where’s Waldo in the US and Canada. Who knew?)

Best for: Large groups divided into teams of 3 to 5 players; it would be a perfect church youth activity

What you need: A shopping mall and volunteers to dress up in disguise, stickers or stamps for each volunteer, and a paper and clipboard for each team of players

How to play: You’ll need to do some prep work before the actual event. In advance, find five to ten volunteers (like adult leaders) to dress up in disguise and walk around the mall. If you’re playing true to the name of the game, have them dress up as Waldo from the Where’s Waldo books, or with pieces of a Waldo costume, like thick-rimmed glasses, a red and white beanie, a red and white striped shirt, and a walking cane.

The night of the activity, give your Waldos and/or Wendas each a sheet of stickers or a stamp and ink pad. Then have them split up and walk around the mall. I would require them to stay either in the main hallways or in small stores right off the main hallway, stores players could quickly glance in. (So no department stores.)

On the night of the event, divide up your players into teams of 3 to 5. Give each team a clipboard and a piece of paper.

Gather all players together in the food court of the mall and explain the rules. They will walk around the shopping mall and try to spot the Waldo characters in disguise. Depending on how good your Waldo costumes are (meaning if they’re not very good), you might want to tell your players the names of the volunteers dressed as Waldo to make it easier for them. You should also tell the players how many Waldos there are. The teams have the goal of spotting all the Waldos in disguise and getting a stamp or sticker from each. You could also have teams take a picture with each Waldo. At the end of a predetermined time, like one hour, all teams will meet back in the food court. The team with the most stickers or stamps wins!

So then teams split up and do their hunting! The Waldos are free to walk around the mall. When a team approaches them, they hand out a stamp or sticker. The team with the most stickers or stamps, or the first team to return with all of them, wins!

Variations: Since the Where’s Waldo books aren’t as popular as they used to be, you might want to use another disguise. I would keep the disguises on a theme. Here are some other ideas. You could have your volunteers:

  • Wear different brightly-colored wigs
  • Dress up as characters from a movie like Harry Potter
  • Dress up as super heroes (either real or made up)
  • Wear all one color from head to toe

What other ideas can you come up with?

This game could create some great photo ops, so be sure to take advantage of them!

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