(ad gifted) The other day we were given the chance to try an Amazing Co Mystery Picnic in Sydney – and it was a great day out. Now comes the tricky bit… how do I do a Mystery Picnic Review without giving away the whole Mystery bit…, I guess we’ll find out in about 10 paragraphs time!
But, my current cunning plan is to try and answer all the questions you might have about the experience, and to give you a feel for the thing, without giving too much away about what actually happens …
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What is an Amazing Co Mystery Picnic
The idea is simple. You’re going on a picnic – but you don’t know what you’re eating or where it’s coming from
And, before you get to find out, you’ve got to solve some clues. Once you do so, you head to the food emporium in the answer and pick up one of the dishes that makes up your picnic meal.
I was booked on the ‘Mystery Picnic Date’ – which aims to be a fun bonding activity between you and your current (or potential future) loved one. As this sounded like a recipe for a row between me and the actual Mr Differentville, as we’d fight over the answers, I took my blog wife, Kendall, on our date instead.
I’d descibed it to her as ‘like a scavenger hunt for food’ – which, in her mind translates as ‘the perfect excuse to dress up in the outfit I had ready for Wasteland Weekend but didn’t get to wear,’ which meant one half of the date partnership looked like something out of Mad Max; and the other half had basically just thrown on a frock she could sit on the floor in. It made for some interesting looks as we trotted around Sydney collecting our food goodies.
But hey, they say opposites attract…
Where Do Mystery Picnics Take Place?
The Amazing Co Mystery Picnic is actually a worldwide thing with locations in the US, UK, Canada and here in Oz.
In Australia alone, you can try them around Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, The Gold Coast, Townsville and more. In and around wider New South Wales there’s The Blue Mountains, The Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Port Stephens and the Central Coast to choose from.
Here in town though, we had five Mystery Picnic Sydney locations to choose from – Centennial Park, The Rocks and Darling Harbour, Botanic Gardens Sydney, Balmain and Bondi Beach.
We chose to do The Rocks and Darling Harbour as it was an area I hadn’t been to during lockdown and the urge to see somewhere different was huge!
The Day Arrives…
As a pair of slight control freaks, not knowing where we were going to meet was stressing us (well, me) out a little bit, but we arranged a time and rough plan.
You get your first clue the day beforehand – once we solved it, we had to turn the whole plan on its head as our first pick up point wasn’t exactly in what I count as Darling Harbour (or The Rocks) which made for a bit of last minute organisation to get to the right spot.
Transport sorted, we met there at 11am and, in a very 007 fashion, went up to the counter and told them we were here to pick up goodies for a Mystery Picnic. I had been expecting a blank look, but no. They checked off my name and delivered an absolutely beautiful cheese, meat and crackers platter, complete with flower decoration.
The hunt was on… we went outside, solved the next clue (after some messed up spelling from me) and we were off.
Four locations, roughly 90 minutes, 8600 steps and two takeout margheritas later we arrived at our picnic spot (we cheated and didn’t go quite where was suggested) and unloaded the food.
This was a lovely surprise as we hadn’t actually really read about what we were picking up, so had no idea what was in the various boxes.
We were definitely not disappointed when we found out.
How Much Food Do You Get?
There was masses of it. Again, I’m not going to give you any clues as to where we went, but we had cheese, meat, crackers, fruit, olives, a very hearty salad, bread, dessert and sweets. Plus two much-needed lemonades.
I have quite a big appetite, Kendall doesn’t – normally when we go out to eat, we order a whole load of small dishes, she eats until she’s full and I hoover up all the leftovers like I haven’t eaten in months!
We got about halfway through it all. The bread went home for lunch with me the next day, a box of sweet treats went home with Kendall.
There was easily enough food for three people – four if it was more of a nibbly picnic.
And all of it was delicious.
How Hard Were The Clues?
Not that hard. There were anagrams, spelling mistake games, picture games and we solved them all fairly quickly.
If you live in the city in which the picnic is taking place, and are a bit of a foodie, you might have come across most of the places already and be able to guess them faster than we did.
If not, don’t worry. The clues aim for you to find words, rather than you knowing anything about the actual shop or cafe, you won’t have to, for example, try and guess who does Sydney’s best profiterole – you just end up with a collection of words that make a shop name.
You then click to the next page, you can confirm that you’re correct, get the address and get directions on google maps – it was all pretty seamless.
If you get stuck, you can also get a hint, or just skip that bit and reveal the answer.
Once you’ve revealed the answer there’s lots of fun advice about the area the pick up spot is located in, but we were too busy heading off to the next destination to really pay that much attention to them.
Top tip to make the most of the experience would be to find a seat to solve your next clue and read all the other stuff before you head off to pick up the next lot of food.
What Happens if Somewhere is Closed?
We had this on ours. A location came up and, because I’d just gone past it on the bus, I knew it was closed for renovations and I thought now what?
But, the app had already accounted for that and told us the alternative location to pick up the goodies.
What Happens if It Rains?
This is the only potential downside. You have to cancel the picnic, if you’re going to, a few days before. That means, for a weekend picnic, by Tuesday of the same week. And, as the weather forecast never seems to actually know what’s going to happen that far in advance, you’re basically committed rain, hail or glorious sunshine.
The weekend we went to do this had a severe weather warning in place and we were really nto sure how it was going to pan out.
Because it’s up to you exactly when you start your picnic experience, we moved our start time to dead on 11am to try and beat the storm that was predicted at 2pm.
As it turned out, we had great weather for while we did all of our collecting, and the picnic itself. The storm hit at 3pm once both of us had headed home.
If it had started raining while we were out, we were planning on just picking up the goodies and going to find somewhere under cover to eat them. So, do have a rough contingency plan in case the weather is bad.
What Do You Need to Pack?
You’re given quite the list of things to take with you, picnic basket, plates, cutlery, blankets, ice packs, cool bags… I possess none of those things.
We therefore had a tote bag each to do the carrying, two plastic glasses, two cups and cutlery. That’s probably the bare minimum you can get away with.
We ended up eating the salad from the plastic cups though so, do bring some plates!
They also tell you to take a pen and paper, which, in the world of apps and smartphones seems a bit old school, but it will help you solve the clues to write them down.
Do You Really Need a Cool Bag?
About 70 minutes into our trip, we’re walking up a staircase and I start to get wafts of something quite pungent. I was assuming it was the steps – but then, as kept walking, it came with us.
I suddenly realise it’s the blue cheese from the first pick up getting a bit pungent!
So, for the sake of health and safety, you probably should take something to keep things cool.
We were lucky as it wasn’t a hot day, but if you were doing this in the Sydney summer you’d definitely want something to keep things tasty – and free from bugs.
Any Criticisms of the Picnic?
Not really. I was surprised how well organised it was. There was only one place where we had to wait a little bit longer for our item – but that was the one that had replaced the normal supplier so, it’s possible that they hadn’t quite got the hang of things yet.
I also managed to stuff up the date when I first booked it and they changed it no questions asked (and not just because I was reviewing it, the helpline team had no idea). They also called me for feedback afterwards – and again, that person didn’t know I was blogging this.
The only tiny issue for us was the meeting point wasn’t really somewhere I would class as in Darling Harbour or The Rocks and so we walked a bit further than I was planning.
This wouldn’t normally be a problem, except I’m battling a stuffed up leg so was a bit concerned if I’d be able to cover the extra distance, but all was good – and at least we burned off some of the food.
And if I really want to quibble… there was also only one tart for dessert. We managed to chop it in half and share, but if your date is with Joey Tribbiani, you could be in trouble.
Would it Make a Good Date?
Kendall and I are getting married now…
No, while we weren’t directly experiencing the romantic angle, it could make a fun date.
There was enough time for plenty of chatting as you walk and, probably enough new things going on around you to prevent any awkward silences if you haven’t known each other for 15 years like we have – or, maybe if you have, depending on your relationship!
Leave the heels at home though, on this one at least, we covered 8600 steps – roughly 4km.
Can You Stop Off Enroute?
You have until the shops close to pick up your goods, so, if you start at 11am, you have until about 3pm to collect the goods – so you don’t need to rush.
One of our stops was outside a new bar in Barangaroo we’d been wanting to try and so we picked up a couple of their Margs To Go to keep us going between stops. Hey, what’s a date without some Dutch Courage!
If you are going to take longer to complete your pick ups though definitely make sure you have something to keep the fresh items cool.
What Happens if You Don’t Like Something
There was a lot of choice in the picnic so, unless you’re a seriously picky eater you’d definitely find something to eat in there
You’re also given the opportunity to tell them about any allergies or other special diets when you book.
How Much is a Mystery Picnic?
At the time of writing this the picnic for couples is $120.
It’s not super cheap (especially if like me your normal picnic is chips, dip and some cheese – if you remember) but if you think about what you’d pay to have dinner in a restaurant on a actual date, it’s cheaper than that – and, more fun.
You can also add on wine for a bit more.
I’m Not on Date – Can I Picnic?
Yes, yes you can!
There are other types of Mystery Picnic available – they do one for families which includes some kid-friendly options and, one for friends which you can book for as many people as you need to.
They say this one is also better for families if you have teenage children.
This supposed to be a Mystery Picnic Review so …
In a nutshell, it’s a great way to spend a day and eat all the food. I’d definitely do it again.
If you’re a foodie it would be a great way to explore a new city’s food scene without having to do all the hard work finding the best places.
If you do have any kind of transport concerns, you might just want to check the area you’re booking is exactly where you think you’re booking.
And, do note that you might end up in a different place from where you started so just check that if you’re driving and parking to the start.
I had no criticisms at all about the quantity or quality of the food or the organisation of the picnic. Really well done.
Where Do You Book
It’s easy – just head to the website. It’ll suggest your nearest location, or, you can hunt around if you’re booking it as part of a weekend trip and then you just choose the best experience for you.
Remember, the Couples picnic is the one we tried.
The family picnic is for those with smaller kids
The Friends picnic is best for a group of you or those with older children.
Here’s also a handy button to make it even easier!
So, there you have it, our review of a Sydney Mystery Picnic. Have you tried this one, or one of the other locations or the other types of picnics? What did you think? Let us know in the comments…