Get Lost in Christmas: Puzzle Rides offers holiday experiences on a golf cart in Old Town
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Old Town Scottsdale’s Puzzle Rides is putting a holiday spin on its mobile escape room-style scavenger hunt in “Scottsdazzle.”
Teamwork, combined with elements of the route, is used to solve a series of puzzles via golf cart before time runs out. From ages 5 to 85, there is something for everyone.
“Whether you’re new to Puzzle Rides or have tried us before, our holiday excursions are an absolute blast,” Puzzle Rides founder Katie Dufort says. “We have one that’s family friendly, perfect for the kiddos, and another that’s tailored to adults where they have to think while they drink.”
Both experiences combine a scavenger hunt through Old Town Scottsdale, a jolly golf cart driver and lots of holiday cheer. First, the adults-only Jingle Bar Hop is a two-hour “portable pub” adventure that invites up to 10 guests to visit local bars and try mystery drinks while solving a puzzle with clues tied to popular holiday music (“Silver Bells” route) or classic TV holiday specials (“Reindeer Games” route).
“This is, by far, our most popular ride because attempting to solve a puzzle while enjoying a cold one is inevitably a good time,” Dufort says. “From checking out a new bar our riders never knew existed to learning something about a building they’ve seen a million times, Jingle Bar Hop offers entertainment at every turn.”
A family-friendly option is Hijacked by Elves. On this experience, Santa’s Naughty and Nice list has been stolen by a mischievous elf. Riders then use clues to track down the elf and bring him to justice during the adventure.
“If you have family coming to town that you haven’t seen for a couple of years because of the pandemic and you don’t want to sit around and stare at each other, book Hijacked by Elves,” Dufort says. “Kids love it, parents love it and even grandparents love it because you’re on the go, you’re outside and you’re laughing so hard, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.”
Speaking of the pandemic, Puzzle Rides was created right before Arizona shut down in 2020. Before that, Dufort operated a golf cart taxi service in Old Town, shuttling people from bar to bar. When the wave of COVID-19 took business owners out at the knees, Dufort knew she had to pivot.
“I’m a historian who obviously loves history. We had the golf carts standing by, and I’m a big fan of puzzles,” Dufort says. “I decided to put it all together during the unlikeliest of times, and Puzzle Rides was born in the middle of a pandemic.”
The concept proved people were trying to do activities together while socially distancing. Riding on a golf cart with those they’d been quarantining with allows for a safe and fun experience outside the home.
“An added layer was all of the partnerships we have with other local businesses,” Dufort says. “We truly wanted to bring our customers through the doors of other establishments in hopes of boosting business after what was one of the hardest times we’d all been through together.”
Puzzle Rides also offers signature favorites year-round, such as Hijacked by Science, during which riders must stop a mad scientist from unleashing a powerful weapon; Pirate’s Treasure Adventure, where pirate garb can be worn as riders swashbuckle their way through town; and Wild West Heist, where loot hidden by bank robbers back in the day must be found in a timely fashion. Want a little spooky fun? Ghost Riders weaves true tales with tall tales in a nighttime-only ride.
“Our adventures are always evolving, so you can expect to find something for everyone,” Dufort says. “We continue to add new rides for each of the big holidays, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. Hopefully our customers see Puzzle Rides as an easy way to escape their daily lives and connect with their family and friends in a way they never have before.”
Puzzle Rides also recently launched team-building relays for groups of up to 80 people.
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