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Creating a Pirate Dungeon Scene

In order to create a memorably fun pirate treasure hunt, a key component is great locations. Sure you could simply shove a clue under the couch…but why not make it much more exciting for your treasure hunters! Take them to the piratical 'underworld' - straight to the gallows! With these ideas you'll be able to create a great looking scene to place your treasure hunt clue. This is especially great to add for those older participants on your treasure hunt who would enjoy something a little more spooky.

First things first…where in the world are you going to put it? Some of you will be planning a treasure hunt within your home on a rainy day while others' will be planned entirely outside. Still others may be spreading their pirate treasure hunt throughout an entire city. Because of this, the list of possibilities will be different for each person however across the board you may want to consider a few key aspects that would apply to anyone. First, attempt to select someplace that would already have some of the natural look such as someone's unfinished basement, storage sheds and garages. A second key component is lighting…the less the better. Pitch black is even best! You'll be able to illuminate the space with candles and lanterns and described a little later. Finally, if at all possible, choose someplace that would be unfamiliar to your participants. Choosing someplace that they've never been to before will add a slight (or large) fear of the unknown. If you begin with these three, you're off to a great start!


Once you have your location, consider a few set decorations to finish the look. Remember, if you chose a location where there isn't much lighting, you won't NEED many props to create your look! Visit your local hardware store and pick up some cheap PVC pipes (or use some of the spares you might have in your garage from your last plumbing DIY home project) along with a few joints. With a cheap can of flat black spray paint, cover the pipes and joints and let them dry. They can now be cut and assembled like tinker toys to create a single jail cell wall. You only need a few bars to create an initial effect, though lots of bars would of course add to the scene. This row of bars can be placed anywhere in your scene to achieve a great look. You'll have to experiment with your space and size to see what looks best.

Play with lighting. If darkness isn't what you're looking for, consider a colored light bulb. Visit your local hardware store and pick up a red, purple or orange light bulb, depending on the look you are going for. A single one of these colored light bulbs will create a definite foreboding mood!

A great way to fill the space while creating that dungeon feel is to get your hands on a big stack of black construction paper and create lots of paper chains (just like you did in grade school with strips of construction paper.) These look great hanging from the ceiling in a variety of fashions (drooping in swags connecting to walls, hanging straight down to the floor, etc.) They are cheap and easy to make - plus it's a great way to pull the kids into the action because they can help you make them!

Maestro, please! That's right, add some background music. Check out a couple of soundtracks from the Pirate's of the Caribbean movies or, better yet, dig out those CD's from Halloween and find some great sound effects. Don't ever underestimate the importance of adding mood music to a scene. The difference it makes is WELL worth the effort to find a song!

Are final idea is something that will definitely put your pirate dungeon in the annals of treasure hunter memories forever. We've listed it last because it might seem a bit over the top and more work than it is worth. However, if you include this single component in your treasure hunt, you'll have them talking about it for weeks and months later (years later, with adults.) Here it goes…ready? Add a live prisoner inside the dungeon! Now, go with me on this one. Dress them up like a dirty pirate (in rags and shirtless if appropriate with your crowd.) There are lots of different things that you do with this single component. Perhaps he IS the next clue - the treasure hunters will need to interact with him to get the information from him. You can also simply have him in a cell begging to be released. His begging will had a certain creepiness to the scene! Have fun and get creative!

A pirate treasure hunt can be overused…but there are always ways to make them exciting and memorable. The amount of energy and effort you put into yours will pay off huge dividends in the form of a great time had by your guests. Go for it!