In December 2007, I participated in a public pre-release promotion for National Treasure Book of Secrets. On December 4 there were simultaneous qualifying hunts in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC. Justin Graham and I joined up with Thomas Snyder (World Sudoku Champion and US Puzzle Team member) and his college friend Garrett Heffner. We entered having virtually no idea what to expect, except that we were advised to bring "comfortable and FAST shoes". It turned out to be as much of a footrace as a puzzle hunt: we solved 12 clues and traveled 5.5 miles on foot over the course of three and a half hours. We finished in second place out of ten, not far behind the winning team led by Rich Bragg of Blood and Bones.
That earned both teams a free trip to New York from Dec 12-15 to attend the world premiere of the movie and compete in the New York hunt for a grand prize of $15k each from Orbitz. Justin could not make the trip to New York so we needed to replace him. We took advantage of a quirk in the eligibility conditions to extend our search to the other qualifying regions, and added Maryland resident Roger Barkan, another US Puzzle Team member.
Our hotel (the recently renovated and very chic Royalton) was great, the movie was great, the sponsors (include the NHL) were great, hanging with the stars at the after-party was great, and the hunt was great too! To make a long story short, we won the NY hunt and the big prize. Mostly Thomas and Roger powered through the fairly easy puzzles, Garrett searched for on-site trivia, and I simply tried to keep up with my speedy teammates!
In time I hope to include more details of the hunt experience, but for now here are copies of the clues we found the most interesting (courtesy of Disney). Also of interest are Garrett's photos from the SF and NY events, and Thomas's LiveJournal entry about our adventures.
The final clue location was give as "234 West 42nd Street". We discovered an Applebee's and a Dave & Busters with the same address, fortunately wasting little time there before finally arriving at the correct location: Madame Tussauds. On a subsequent trip to Manhattan, I investigated further and found 10 separate storefronts with the same address!
All clues are © Disney, and reprinted by permission
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