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The Mummy's Tomb
Over the years, Halloween has created in itself a vast library of images and frights that have for the most part, turned into near cliches. Of course, these cliches are still a lot of fun. After all, what would Halloween be without spider webs, haunted graveyards and an occasional headless man? However, for those that pursue new creative avenues during this holiday season, it can be very difficult to do 'what no one's seen before.' As a new twist this Halloween, I suggest that you specialize. Pick a single theme and explore it to its full potential. The following portion of ideas detail some examples of how to focus your Halloween frights (whether in a Haunted House or for a Halloween Party) on the theme of The Mummy.
· Create the entrance to a large Egyptian tomb for your guests to enter through (either the entire experience is within the tomb, or the tomb only being a smaller part of a larger Haunted House).
· Temple walls can be constructed from cardboard boxes, stacked like large bricks. Spray a strong fixative on the boxes and sprinkle sand onto the surfaces, creating a rough, sandstone-like texture. For painting, find two distinct shades of tan spray paint and one dark brown. Cover the walls with the slightly darker shade of tan first. With a razor blade, SLIGHTLY score the spray can opening - enlarging it. This will create a slight sputter or spitting of paint as it is applied. Do not cover the walls completely with the sputtering, use it only to add depth. Finally, with the dark brown can, score a little more heavily the opening as you did with the lighter tan. VERY sparingly, allow a couple sputters to hit the wall. The finished effect looks great. Fast, cheap and looks great (the three best qualities for haunted house designers).
· Spider webbing can be generously strewn throughout the tomb. A tip on the application, though. First off, know where ahead of time you'd like to put your spider webbing. In order to achieve that thin, splayed webbing affect (where it is not all scrunched up in clumps as it so likes to do) you'll need to hammer very small nails (where possible) strategically throughout the desired area, allowing for places to 'snag' the webbing.
· Gold coffin (or gold walls, if needed). Spray paint the box structure (or wooden or whatever material you've chosen to make it) with a standard HIGH GLOSS finish gold spray paint (not matte finish). Using some art history books as guides, draw cartouche images on the sides using a fine tipped, black permanent marker. Now, the marker will not be dark enough atop the gold spray paint…you'll need to go back over it with some black acrylic paint. Some color was used by the Egyptians, notably white, turquoise and an earthy brick red. Reflect these colors in touch up details on the sides of the coffins.
· Curtailing the above, inscriptions on walls can be done in a similar fashion. For the sake of time and appearance, try to get your hands on an overhead projector (ask your local school teacher, they can often get access to these freely - or those who often make presentations at their work). Make a transparency of the image you wish to display on the wall (or a book if you can find an Opay (spelling?) projector.
· Several mummies on the inside - the ones in the beginning are dummies made to look real. As the guest travels through, they encounter live actors dressed as dummy mummies (i.e. the guest will become comfortable with seeing the stationary mummies and will assume that all future ones will be the same. Later, when they encounter ones that look a little less convincing, they can have a rightful fright when it comes to life to scare them, chase them or just sneak up behind them.
· Build a table from stacked boxes. Cut a hole in the top of the table the size for a grown person's torso. Place a sandy, linen cloth over the table (with a hole of the same size and position as the table). The live actor will sit in the table with their chest, head and arms poking out of the top hole you cut. He/she is to be dressed as the top half of the mummy, lying motionless on the table. Make a fake 'bottom half' of the mummy, placed disjointed to the torso. The effect the guest will experience will be seeing a mummy broken in two at the waist, lying on a stone table/altar (see below for ideas on creating stone surfaces on cardboard boxes). They will be quite shocked when the mummy reaches out for them!
· Mummies look great coming out of walls - especially in very narrow passageways.
· Allow a live-action mummy to not move until after the guest(s) have already passed. The mummy would follow them from behind, ready to make an easy scare. Done once in the beginning, the guests will constantly be looking over their shoulders for future surprises.
· A great way to make mummy wrapping is to use tea stained cheese cloth (what cooks use - especially on turkeys and large foul). Have fun playing with it…it won't take you long how to figure out how to wrap it. (A note about wrapping, make sure that the strips are NOT all in uniform length or width…remember, these mummies have been around for centuries and the wrappings have all be disintegrated!)
· Locate your local carnival supply company (the Oriental Trading Co. is who I've always used. Check out their website for ordering online) for purchasing small plastic spiders and snakes. These look great coming out of the mummies. Preferably, have the exiting one of the nine holes of the body (I'll let you do the counting…) The eyes and mouth are perhaps the most popular. The reason why I mention companies such as Oriental Trading is the fact that they have great rates for larger quantity purchases. For instance, you could buy a bag of 100 spiders for what you might spend on 20 at a retail toy store. Plus, you'll find the selection noteworthy.
· Give small printed cards to the guests on how to translate some of the hieroglyphs during their experience. The experience is always a lot more fun when you actually have something to do. Plus, it is a great way to preoccupy your guests long enough for someone to sneak up behind them. Additionally, you'll be able to utilize language to instill fear by creating curses and warnings as to what the guests are about to encounter.
In my experience, scavenger hunts as activities, especially for adults, can be a bit stale. Additionally, I have found that adults are most reluctant to deal with some of the more embarrassing aspects of their list - while younger crowds find those the most fun. Why not create a more controlled scavenger hunt…one that could even last throughout the entire party/event?
Begin by giving every team/person a list of items that they must find. This could be given out when guests first arrive (if the event will be extended throughout the duration of the party) or at a specific time when you have everyone's attention. Explain that items have been placed throughout the facility, house, wherever (although give EXPLICIT details as to the playing areas where they are permitted to search) that are on their list. For some of the items there might only be one of (a severed hand, crystal ball, etc.) and others might have a whole supply (a pile of spider rings). The only rule to really nail down is that if they find more than one of the item, to only take ONE - leaving the rest for others. ANY DUPLICATE ITEMS WILL WORK AGAINST THEM! This will ensure that others will have just as much chance of finding all the items.
Set a time beforehand that all lists must be turned in. Use either bags, pillow cases, boxes, large kitchen bowls, whatever you have for teams/players to put their items in at the end. This way, while you tally each team/player's list, other teams will not be able to keep searching for more items. They will have already turned in their collection, not able to add any more to it.
When making the list, have fun coming up with different items for the list. Be sure to put point values next to each item (the items where there is only one offer more points than for those items where there are several). Theme each item. Don't call it merely a plastic skull, but rather 'the skull of a shipwrecked pirate.' This will call for more thinking on behalf of the players and make it a lot more fun to search for.
As an added twist, put small clues around the house/facility/yard that give hints as to where to find certain harder to find items. Perhaps some items cannot be found (just too difficult of a place) without first finding a clue somewhere.
Finally, and in my opinion the greatest aspect to add is LIVE CHARACTERS. Some of the items on their list could be to find objects. Well, what if one of those objects was a skeleton ring (and that ring was on the finger of a monster guest that was roaming around the party. He could have several in his pocket, replacing them as teams figure out that he has one. I did this and it worked fantastic. Once teams found the ring, they began to think 'outside the box' for the rest of the items. It made it that much more fun!) However, some of the items could be actions, as well. For instance, I had a friend dressed as a dirty pirate trapped in dungeon stalks hidden on the property. One of the items on the list was to FREE A PIRATE. Once they found the pirate, he explained that he was hit over the head from behind and when he came to, the only thing he remembered seeing was an Asian pirate laughing in front of him. Teams then began looking for an Asian pirate, found him and took his key. They then returned to the first pirate, unlocked his stalks wherein the pirate gave them a gold coin (plastic toy coin) as a token for freeing him (the proof to me that they earned the points for freeing him). He then got back in the stalks and waited for the next team to free him. This, again, worked fantastic…the highlight of the scavenger hunt.
By Joe Dean
Throughout the 15+ years of designing themed treasure hunts professionally, some of the most successful and exciting events planned were for fundraising efforts. With low overhead costs and the ability to generate a lot of excitement for a fresh, new type of event, themed adventures are proving to be more and more successful in raising money for private and public organizations, large and small.
There are a number of different creative and exciting ways to raise money by planning a themed treasure hunt. This article will attempt to 'whet your appetite' as to the numerous ways funds can be raised and excitement generated for your next fundraising event.
The hunt itself can vary greatly in both size and budget. Some hunts I've produced have been for crowds in the hundreds paying small entrant fees - all attempting to be the first to complete the hunt for a prize donated by a local merchant. Others have been considerably more sophisticated, as in the case of a California Department of Mental Health function held a few years ago. Bids were sold to a more affluent crowd and a Quest for the Holy Grail adventure was held on the grounds of a very large and wealthy estate. (For more information on the Quest for the Holy Grail adventure, click here) The flexibility exists to ensure that every group fundraiser can be successful, no matter the size, age or affluence of the participants.
The following is a collection of ideas to show the various and numerous ways to raise money easily and creatively by planning a fantastic themed treasure hunt adventure…
· Begin by planning on selling tickets to participate in the event. The adventure itself will be worth the price of the ticket, by following the step-by-step instructions of planning this kind of themed adventure. Ticket prices can vary depending on the demographics of your participants. For example, if your are planning an event involving high school aged students, you'd probably fair better at selling hundreds of tickets at a cheaper price. However, if you were planning an event for a more mature and sophisticated crowd, you might want sell tickets at a much higher price, making available only a set number of tickets for purchase to ensure higher odds at winning the grand prize for the participants (especially if a prize is given for the winning team.)
· Great prizes can be offered. Many groups have been very successful at arranging for prizes to be donated by local merchants. Sometimes a large prize was donated, such as a television set. At other times, a small basket of several smaller gifts has been offered from donating merchants ($15 gift certificates, etc.) Prizes can also come in the form of services provided by the organization planning the adventure. For example, a prom committee raising funds for their dance could give out free Prom bids to the first five finishing teams. Another idea for a prize is to have the top placing teams being refunded their entry fee - or even getting a percentage of the total proceeds taken in by the event.
· Here are a few tricks to get prizes donated
· As a way to enhance your theme, find out if a local costume shop will donate one or some of the needed costumes
· Curtailing the above, if there are any other props or set pieces that would enhance your theme, find out if there are any vendors who would donate them in exchange for a form of advertising
· Capitalize on your theme. Is your theme based on Pirates of the Caribbean? Why not have a small pirate port themed area at the beginning/end of the hunt and sell spaces to vendors where themed items and food can be sold? The same would work for a mini Renaissance Faire or an Egyptian marketplace. Depending on your theme, you could really plan a spectacular bazaar that could rival the hunt itself for excitement!
· Print up a mini story or background piece about the theme and storyline of your adventure treasure hunt and distribute them to the participants before they begin. It will generate a lot of enthusiasm when your participants get consumed with the story.
· Once the event is proven as a success, it could easily be turned into an annual event, as it did with several of my clients. Teams from the year before often reassembled in later hunts to try once more to win the prize. A continuing plaque or trophy could be displayed with the current and all past year's winners.
Perhaps the greatest part about planning a themed treasure hunt adventure for your next fundraiser, besides all the excitement it will generate, is the fact that it has a potentially very high chance of having very little overhead costs. Aside from some photocopies and footwork, few other expenses need to be expended - now that is music to a fundraiser's ears!
Plan something new and exciting that everyone will remember in future years! Plan a treasure of a fundraiser!
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