Looking for something different to do on the final weekend of Halloween 2016? Then check out the Haunted Hollywood Scavenger Hunt from Watson Adventures, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday at 4pm. As you can guess from the title, this is a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt, set in Hollywood, focusing allegedly haunted locations on and around Hollywood Boulevard. It's not a scary event at all, nor even particularly spooky, but Halloween is definitely in the air, with local establishments decorated for the season and costumed revelers on their way to parties and other events.
The scavenger hunt takes two and a half hours to complete, and it is challenging but fun. The event starts at the intersection of Hawthorne and Highland, just south of Hollywood Boulevard, where a representative from Watson Adventures lays out the rules and gives a printed list of goals. Unlike a traditional scavenger hunt, you are looking not for items but for information: answers to puzzles, which can be found by visiting such locations as the Hollywood Museum, the Guiness World Records Museum, and several nearby theatres (Grauman's Chinese, the Egyptian, El Capitan).
The haunted element arises more from the back story of the locations than from the challenges - which is to say, you're not going to have to summon any spirits to complete the hunt. There is a deliberately misleading clue about a woman nearly turning Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp into a ghost, for example, but more often the supernatural element is referenced in legends about the places where the solutions are found, which tell of long-dead Hollywood stars supposedly still seen at the Roosevelt Hotel and Hollywood High School.
Typically, the questions direct you to find information that is visible but not prominently displayed. In some cases, you may need to follow a trail of clues or do some mathematical calculations (such as adding or subtracting the release dates of Oscar-winning movies). You may find yourself searching for the imprints of Star Wars characters in the concrete at the Chinese Theatre.
Not every quest is a complete brain-buster, but you are competing against other teams, and time is of the essence; in fact, planning an efficient route is almost as important as solving puzzles. Each teams is assigned a different starting point (so that they are not running neck and neck), along with a time to meet at the Hollywood and Highland Center for a bonus round. You need to plot a course that takes you quickly to puzzles near your starting point while also bringing your closer to the Center in time for your bonus question. If you don't do this, you will be zigzagging back and forth, wasting time and effort retracing your steps to find clues you skipped.
A good sense of time management is also essential. You need to know when to give up on difficult challenges and move on to the next; otherwise, you will end up with only a handful of answers. Keep in mind that solving every puzzle in the allotted time is nearly impossible; no other team is likely to achieve this, so there's to knock yourself out trying. Instead, grab as many answers in easy reach as possible, and don't always concern yourself with doing them in the order listed. After completing your bonus round at the Hollywood and Highland Center, don't bother resuming where you left off; solve the puzzles in the Center itself.
Hollywood Gothique went on the scavenger hunt last Halloween and failed miserably - by which, we mean we lost to a rival team who was faster if not smarter. Despite this stunning upset, we had a wonderful time seeking clues along Hollywood Boulevard, and we enjoyed learning the ghostly tales lurking behind the famous landmarks.
One virtue of the Haunted Hollywood Scavenger Hunt is that it concludes at 6:30pm, allowing time to enjoy other Halloween activities after dark. You can watch Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas at El Capitan Theater or hear Danny Elfman sing the soundtrack live at the Hollywood Bowl. Not too far east is the Haunted Maze on Ambrose and beyond that, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. Plan your schedule and enjoy a full evening of Halloween horrors.
The page for the Watson Adventures Haunted Hollywood Scavenger Hunt is here. Online tickets are still available for Sunday. This is an adults-only event, but there is nothing R-rated about it; it just requires a certain amount of skill and stamina that young trick-or-treaters are unlikely to possess (and most of the questions relate to Old Hollywood - a subject probably of little interest to the young).
Check out images of other locations you may encounter on the Haunted Hollywood Scavenger Hunt...