Remember when I said one of my favorite shows was Gravity Falls? Did I mention that I consider Alex Hirsch, the creator of the show, one of the most intellectual people in this entire planet? If you read through this entire post, you’ll probably agree with me.
It may look like your average Disney show, but there is a massive Gravity Falls adult fan base. Aside from the brilliant story lines, the show was very interactive.
At the end of each episode, a cryptogram would flash on the screen. These were hidden messages for the audience watching to decipher. As it was a mystery show, it was amazing that they added a part for people to participate in. If you take a closer look, there were a lot of cryptic messages in Gravity Falls.
The show ended with Season 2, and there was a second’s glimpse of the antagonist Bill Cipher’s statue in the real world. This excited the fans as they waited for what was to come next.
After a few months of the Gravity Falls Season 2 finale, Alex Hirsch finally tweeted:
If you followed the code for the previous cryptograms, you go 3 letters back to get the message. Hence, CIPHER HUNT began.
WAS THIS A MYSTERY ADVENTURE HUNT IN THE REAL WORLD? YES! Yes, it was.
That’s where the beautiful part begins. The fan base started brainstorming to decrpyt the image that Alex sent for the Cipher Hunt. The deciphered message read:
THE URBAN LEGEND HAS COME TRUE
CIPHER’S STATUE’S CALLING YOU
THE SECRET MAP IS IN YOUR HAND
TO TRACE THE CLUES ACROSS THE LAND
DON’T FORGET IT’S ALL FOR PLEASURE
THE HUNT ITSELF’S THE REAL TREASURE
BUT A PRIZE AWAITS THE FIRST ONE THERE
BE SAFE, BE SMART, AND OF COURSE BEWARE
The letters in red spelled Russia, and the clue contained an image of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia!
Image from www.saint-petersburg.com
If you look closely, you will notice that the design at the top of the cathedral’s entrance can be found in the image Alex sent.
Image from travelinos.com
The entire fan base was really excited about this, but it would have been difficult to fly out into a different country to get a clue. Wouldn’t it? Good thing that there were fans all across the world, and someone was able to locate the first clue!
I’m amazed at what people can do when they work together. Seriously.
Cipher Hunt Clue #1
“Finally the hunt can begin
So switch your Rubles out for Yen
Turn left when you’re at the shrine’s door
When you reach the statue turn left once more
In the leftmost corner in the back
Is the info that you lack
A sword and a crescent mark the clue
Cipher’s statue’s calling you.“
Switch your Rubles out for Yen? Yen?? Does that mean…
Cipher Hunt Clue #2
Yes! The second clue was in Japan! It was in the Kanda Myojin Shrine, to be exact. Apparently, Alex decided to leave a message there when he visited Japan.
“Consider in your quest for truth
the hunter of the fountain of youth
400 before his name is written
Outside the gate is where its hidden
Find what’s LOST to pass the test
From a Shrine that’s east to a Shrine that’s west.“
This clue led to a different location, 400 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, Georgia. They found a LOST poster with a cryptogram and a number to call if you find Waddles (the pet pig of Mable from the show).
Cipher Hunt Clue #3
“Across from the stones of the springs
you’ll find some peculiar things
tied to a root is a lone pink key
dig to find what waits for thee.“
If you called the number, a message from Grunkle Stan would play. To understand it, you need to play the audio recording in reverse. Staying true to his character in the show, Grunkle Stan just outright says where the next clue would be.
“Hello, it’s Grunkle Stan, and I have a riddle for you! What has two legs during the day, four legs during the night, and uh, it’s red and white, and, I dunno, I’m no good at these riddles. It’s at Ochre Court, all right? The next clue, it’s at Ochre Court. It’s, uh, it’s like, it’s a big old building in Rhode Island.”
Cipher Hunt Clue #4
Alex had to tweet people to call the number of Stan again, and it left a different message:
“A man whose first name is his last
A statue honoring his past
Right behind him by the sign of his park
A golden head shows light in the dark”
The clue was Grunkle Stan’s head with blank pages inside (the code was written with invisible ink).
“50 + 50 THAT’S THE CITY
FROM ONE ANGLE IT’S QUITE PRETTY
YOU’LL FIND A BOW TIE AND ONE EYE
AT HIS HEAD IS A RECTANGLE
STONES BY STAIRS ATOP THE TOP RIGHT ANGLE
THE STONE WITH THE UV SWIRL CAN GLOW
FIND THE BLACK POUCH THAT’S BELOW.“
Cipher Hunt Clue #5
The message led to a mall in Century City, LA. Jason Ritter, the voice of Dipper in the show, couldn’t resist joining in the hunt since he was near the area. Together with some Gravity Falls fans, they did a live video to find the next clue.
They found a black pouch under a rock. There was a USB stick inside, and it contained yet another audio file from Grunkle Stan.
“Alright kids, the next clue is, uh, a kind of tricky one, you see. This is one that can only be found by someone who is currently in the building it is hidden in. That’s right, I’m looking for students at the California State Summer School of the Arts. Only CSSSA students can find this clue. I don’t want anybody else going to CSSSA, alright? It’s, uh, you’re not allowed in. Only students there are allowed in. Students, scour the sublevel! You’ll know it when you see it.”
Cipher Hunt Clue #6
The clue was found in the sublevel of a building in the CSSSA campus as wall graffiti. They were coordinates of a location, which led to Piedmont, California, the hometown of Dipper, Mabel, and the Hirsch twins. (Yes, Alex has a twin sister just like the main characters in the show he created.)
Cipher Hunt Clue #7
People went to the location, and found a buried treasure box (which was opened with a pink key from Clue #3). There was a Cryptex locked behind a 5 letter keyword (decrpyted with the very first image Alex sent 8-15-10-19-5 which is PINES, last name of Dipper and Mabel). The next clue was inside.
“LA HAS THE CLUE YOU WANT
1825 N VERMONT
27128’S THE BOX FOR THEE
DON’T BE PUZZLED, USE THE KEY.“
Cipher Hunt Clue #8
The person with the key went to the PO Box to find a puzzle with two thousand pieces. There was also a message from Stan that said “I HOPE YOU LIKE PUZZLES” (in code of course).
Completing the puzzle took a group effort between several fans and some additional clues from Alex himself through Twitter. It was probably quite a challenging task.
Cipher Hunt Clue #9
A fan in Portland, Oregon went looking for the next clue depicted in the puzzle. He found it buried under a lawn gnome, with a View Master that had images of Confusion Hill (a roadside attraction in California similar to the Mystery Shack in Gravity Falls).
“To the redwoods you must race
If you’re Confused you’re in the right place
The giftshop is not too far
The password will buy the Eyeball jar.“
Cipher Hunt Clue #10
The next clue was found on a jar of eyeballs (also found in the Mystery Shack) in Confusion Hill, California.
Cipher Hunt Clue #11
After which, fans in Oregon looked for a bolt. They found it near telephone poles on Stanley Street. After unscrewing it, another clue was found.
“ROGER TOFTE KNOWS THE PLACE
BEHIND A SIGN BURIED AT THE BASE
NEAR PA’S LAUNDRY ON THE HILL
‘HERE LIE THE BONES OF A MAN NAMED BILL’“
Cipher Hunt Clue #12
The last clue was found in the Enchanted Forest, founded by Roger Tofte.
“RETURN TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
THE FINAL CLUE IS IN YOUR HAND
THE PARCHMENT CAN BE SUCH A TEASE
THE ANSWER’S WRITTEN IN THE TREES”
Fans used this last piece with the initial image from the Cipher Hunt to look for the statue of Bill Cipher. After a few days, there was no progress. Alex added another clue through Twitter saying:
“An urban legend arcade game
Gives the methods correct name
Mathematically the letters hide
In branches & knots, no matter the side“
Fans finally figured out the missing information from the urban legend arcade game, Polybius. They solved the clue using the Polybius square, a code that uses numbers and turns them into letters via grid to encrypt messages.
Honestly, this part just goes way above my head. I’m leaving references below, so you could check out the logical reasoning behind it all.
What’s important is that the brilliant fans of Gravity Falls figured it out. Bill Cipher was in Reedsport, Oregon.
They found him with a treasure chest buried underneath. There were several gems inside like a miniature statue of Bill Cipher, a music box, special drawings by Alex, sash for the new mayor of Gravity Falls and more.
There was also a USB stick with some files in it including this audio message from Grunkle Stan:
If I could have one thing from that treasure chest, I would probably have taken the music box that had the Gravity Falls theme song.
Whew. What a journey, eh? The adventure started on July 20 and ended in August 2, 2016. It was a fun, thrilling experience for everyone who got involved, and we can only look forward to what Alex come up with next.
If you’re still reading up to this point, congratulations! And you probably understand why I think Alex Hirsch is a brilliant mastermind now. He actually did the whole Cipher Hunt by himself, not affiliated with any company. It was out of his own passion for what he does and appreciation towards the fans of the show.
This is probably why I love Gravity Falls. It’s not something you just pass the time with. It makes you think. It makes you start conversations and talk about odd things around us. The creator encourages taking a journey with your friends and family to explore the world.
Amazing, isn’t it?
P.S. I started writing this post because I had some blank pages in my Gravity Falls Journal 3 book, and I just KNEW there were secret messages inside. (I probably need to buy light for that invisible ink to show up!)