Spy Party -8yr- International Travel
Josh in Eugene, OR USA
International Spy Party 8yr-old girl It's Carmen Sandiego meets The Amazing Race. This party for our 8-year-old daughter was so fun and successful, she cried the next day because she didn't want it to end.
THE SPECS: Eight girls. Six adults. Three hours. Under $100.
THE INVITATION: Agents were sent a top secret letter informing them of the theft of a priceless artifact and that their assistance in recovering it was needed. The pertinent details of the party were written in invisible ink (white colored pencil) that they had to color over with a black marker to read. They were instructed to RSVP by phone with a password and give their code name, then proceed to the Sunshine Travel Agency (our house) on the given day, wearing a tourist disguise and bringing a bag packed for international travel.
THE TRAVEL AGENCY: Upon arriving at the travel agency, the agency owner (aunt) greeted them and directed them to the passport desk where they got their picture taken (Polaroid I-Zone that takes 1.5-inch pix). They were issued a passport and a small official-looking notebook that held paper, pen, play money, travel tickets (downloaded images of real tickets from Internet), and a compass/whistle/flashlight combo. While waiting for everyone to arrive, they were instructed to look through the provided magazines and travel brochures, cut out features, and create their own versions of a Most Wanted international criminal using glue and a template we provided. We played James Bond movie theme music in the background.
THE MISSION: When all the agents had arrived, Agent Black (dad) entered in a suit, dark sunglasses, and with a briefcase. He thanked them for accepting the mission and explained the details. They would need to follow clues, decode messages, and locate contact people in order to discover the location of the stolen artifact. Each was given a job, such as cryptographer, code keeper, photographer, key bearer, navigator, and communications specialist. The photographer was given the i-zone camera and told to take a group shot with their contact person after decoding each message. The navigator was given a world map. The communications specialist was given one of two wrist walkie talkies for emergencies. All agents were called only by their code names the entire party. Agent Black then handed them their first envelope, containing a backwards code. They had to find a mirror to read the message, which said that they were to go to the airport and fly to France. Once there, they had to find their contact, Pierre and recite the codeword: Souffle and he would respond Bon Bons. In each country, we had decoy contacts so they had to search for the real one.
FLIGHT TO FRANCE: The agents found the room marked airport and used their appropriate tickets. A security guard checked bags using a treadmill as a conveyor belt. A flight attendant welcomed them aboard (to an adjoining room the airplane) and seated them. The airplane was set up using cardboard and boxes. We had chairs for all the agents. A small wall- mounted TV provided an in-flight movie (a Gumby cartoon) and we offered food and beverage service. We used a guitar amp and mic for the captain's announcements and a boombox for real take-off, cruising, and landing sfx. The flight attendant also told the passengers interesting facts about where they were going. After arrival in Paris, the agents went through customs and had their passports stamped.
FRANCE: The agents searched for their contact, Pierre, who directed them outside to a Bon Bon vendor, where they were able to buy homemade bon bons. A French painter (grandma who could actually speak French) beckoned them to sit with her in front of an easel and played a version of pictionary. They had to figure out a series of pictures, which spelled out Go to the Land of Pizza When they figured it out, they were given another envelope with instructions to travel by bus to Rome, Italy and find their contact, Armando, using the codeword Pizza, Pizza to which Armando would reply Ah, that's a nice a pie!
BUS TO ITALY: With bus motor sfx, a driver, and stewardess, they traveled to Rome on what was the airplane. They played a game where one person would start I went on a mission around the world, stopped in Italy and ate some fusilli. (we had bagged up 10 different kinds of pasta to pass around one by one). The next person had to repeat that, adding another kind of pasta. It got harder and harder the more they had to remember, but they learned about pasta!
ITALY: After arriving in Rome and going through customs, they found Armando and he directed them to Luigi's Pizza Parlor, set up in the kitchen. Luigi welcomed them to his restaurant and served them a big pizza and an envelope. Inside was a Pizza Toppings code, where each letter of the alphabet related to a topping, like tomatoes, dog kibble, pickles, etc. The pizza had a code on it in toppings that they had to decipher. When complete, they found they had to go to Shanghai, China next by train! They ate lunch and were on their way.
TRAIN TO CHINA: On the train (former airplane/bus, now with train sfx and a conductor), they got to hear facts about China and make an origami dog in honor of the Year of the Dog. Upon arrival in Shanghai, they were directed to find Ming's Tea Room. This darkened room had a low table and was set up for tea service. Mr. and Mrs. Ming (grandparents in authentic garb) welcomed them and had them play a chopstick game. They had to see how many small round Chinese cookie snacks they could pick up and put in their baggies before the timer ran out.
They were then served tea and given the check. A fortune cookie accompanied the check and had a fortune in it that read: Good fortune can be found in the library, Webster's New World Dictionary, page 871. They paid their bill and headed for the big bookcase in another room. A Chinese librarian (cousin) was there to answer questions. They found the dictionary and page with instructions to figure out a dictionary code. A series of numbers directed them to page numbers, columns, and words. When they found them all, the message told them to fly to Cairo, Egypt.
FLIGHT TO EGYPT: Back on the plane, they got to hear facts about Cairo and taste toasted melon seeds, a regional delicacy. Halfway through the flight, the captain reported engine trouble. Suddenly, an alarm sounded and sfx of a plane going down filled the cabin. The captain sent a mayday and reported we were going down over the Congo jungle. We used a smoke machine and strobe light to simulate a crash while the flight attendant instructed passengers to go out the emergency exit in the back of the plane.
THE CONGO: the emergency exit spilled out directly into the jungle, a darkened room with sparkle lights, palm tree d'cor, stuffed monkeys, jungle sounds. The captain reminded them of the first rule of survival: find something to drink. They found coconut cups filled with virgin pina coladas under a palm tree. As they drank and looked around, they realized their were monkeys everywhere (stuffed animals) and were told that they could each catch one and take it home. The captain reminded the communications specialist that this is probably a good time to use the walkie talkie to call headquarters. When she did, the director on the other end said they had another plane hidden in the jungle just for this purpose. They found it (same plane as before, but this time with small prop plane SFX) and finished the short flight to Cairo.
CAIRO, EGYPT: In Cairo, they were instructed to find a scroll seller and purchase a scroll. When they did, the scroll told them to search the great pyramid for a secret door with the identical hieroglyphics as on the scroll. However, the hieroglyphics were invisible and they were told to see the wiseman to make it appear. When they found him outside in arab attire, he took out a small vile of liquid and painted it over the empty area on the scroll, making the glyphs appear (baking soda writing and balsamic vinegar liquid). With this, they ran back inside and searched for one of four doors that had different combinations of hieroglyphics. When they found the right one, they had to insert the photos in the correct order they had taken them during the adventure and then unlock the door with the key the keybearer had. Inside (a locking closet), on a platform under a golden light was a cake shaped like a pyramid.
There was also a microcassette recorder and a small scroll. The recorder had a note that said Play Me. It was a congratulatory message from the director that said the cake was baked thousands of years ago for a pharaoh, who died from a curse just before he was able to eat it. Waiting any longer to eat it would probably deem it inedible, so the agents were encouraged to quickly take the cake and eat it. By reciting the Egyptian words on the scroll provided, they would be able to use a secret passageway that would quickly lead them home. HOME: Back home, they ate cake and ice cream and were all awarded a medal for their mission accomplished.
THANKS YOU NOTES: We created personalized encoded thank you notes using an every other word code that thanked agents for their participation on the mission and for the gift.
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