Imagine having Magic Kingdom entirely to yourself and a few friends.
That's what happened to Zombies 2 stars Milo Manheim, Kylee Russell, Ariel Martin and Pearce Joza when the Disney Channel actors were tapped to compete in Disney Holiday Magical Quest. Never heard of it? Hosted (virtually) by Raven-Symoné, the first-ever special is essentially an overnight scavenger hunt in which the cast runs across an empty Magic Kingdom while participating in over-the-top games and adventures. The goal? To win a cash prize that'll benefit Toys for Toys, a non-profit organization that helps children in need.
The official synopsis reads as follows: "The stars will navigate a series of challenges and obstacles through iconic Disney attractions, including the Haunted Mansion and Cinderella Castle, in an attempt to restore the holiday magic that was stolen by famed Disney villains Maleficent and Evil Queen."
In an exclusive behind-the-scenes preview, Manheim, Russell, Marin and Joza show us how the event came together with the help of director and executive producer Art Spigel plus EP Evan Weinstein, who previously worked on The Amazing Race.
So what's the secret to making the challenges, well, challenging? "You don't want these things to be too easy," Weinstein says. "People have to overcome an obstacle and feel like they're victorious."
As the clip proves, the cast gets to go inside empty venues like the Haunted Mansion, where they were granted unprecedented access to those spooky ballrooms in search of clues. Weinstein also explains that the crew worked with the team behind American Ninja Warrior to test some of the challenges in a warehouse before officially producing them at the park.
"The talent were really incredible and these guys were real troopers," Spigel says. "They didn't know what they were getting into, we kind of gave them a very loose idea of what was happening. There was no rehearsal, they didn't get to see the challenges ahead of time. There was no prepping them. We wanted to get their authentic reactions the way anyone else would seeing it for the first time."
To see how it all turned out, watch Disney Holiday Magic Quest on Friday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. ET on Disney Channel.