Treasure Hunt vs Scavenger Hunt

(This article is a continuation of our Adventure Treasure Hunts 101 -
The FREE Course
series. To start from the beginning, click HERE.)

theme park scavenger hunts







Treasure Hunt? Scavenger Hunt? Are they the same? What's the difference between the two of them and a car rally or progressive dinner?...and what new formats are being developed for the new decade? All of the terms for different kinds of hunts seem to be interchangeable, but in fact they are each very different as we'll explain.

The treasure hunt involves going from location to location via a set of clues or puzzles to solve. Typically, the locations are linear (meaning there is a set order that they must be visited in) and each clue is offered one at a time, one per location visited. The clues/puzzles themselves can either be simple (as in a basic rhyme such as Roses are red, Violets are blue, Look under the Table, For your next clue.") or more elaborate as in cryptograms, logic problems or other types of puzzles. This format has been made popular by movies such as The Goonies and the more recent and National Treasure franchise. Although this format is traditionally related to a pirate theme, other themes have branched out to other historical periods thanks to movies as the Indiana Jones series. The creativity in these formats are largely lay in the clue and puzzles themselves. For more information on how to set up a treasure hunt, click HERE.

The scavenger hunt differs from a treasure hunt in that typically the participant is equipped with all of the clues and information they need ahead of time. Typically this format revolves around a list of some sort. This list could involve either a series of tasks to complete or items to obtain. The tasks or items could either be random (not related to each other) or all part of a larger theme (such as going back to school, nature, etc.) Typically this activity is timed, with the a winner determined by how many of the tasks were completed or items obtained. The creativity largely lay in what items are being collected or tasks to be completed. For more information on how to set up a scavenger hunt, click HERE.

Car rallies, recently made more popular by the Amazing Race TV show, are a form of treasure hunt where the participants rely solely on road vehicles for transportation from location to location. Though not always true, car rallies also involve tasks for the participants to complete at each location before they are given their puzzle or clue which will reveal their next location in the hunt. Most of the fun in this type of hunt is derived from these activities that the teams must accomplish together.

In a progressive dinner, participants must travel from location to location for each course of the meal, typically at different individual's homes. If there are a large number of participants, the sequences of the meal may vary from one car/team to another as each visits each location in turn. As the time factor plays heavily with this format, it's important to keep the time spent traveling to a minimum to allow more time for the participants to eat. Without keeping this factor in mind, the progressive dinner can last far longer than intended. If planned well, they can be a lot of fun…if planned poorly, they can be a serious drain on your guests.

With video games, 3D movies and technology, the general public is looking for more interactive activities…experiences with a story. Simple rhyming clues are giving way to more advanced hunts. The old treasure hunt and scavenger hunt formats are slowly dying out to make room for more elegant and sophisticated activities. People want to know WHY they are on the hunt…why the treasure was hidden and what is at stake if they don't complete their mission. The addition of interactive characters is also a part of this new trend. For an example of these newer hunt adventures, visit HERE.


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