Real Life Pretend: Escape Rooms
WANNA PLAY PRETEND?
When I was a kid, my favourite thing to do was play “pretend”. My cousins and I would run around the forest behind my house, acting out adventures in our fairytale world, quickly jumping from one scenario to the next. When it rained, we played detective indoors, solving mysteries or searching for lost ancient artifacts. The plotlines of our adventures were only limited by the constraints of our budding imaginations, and so these bouts of pretend could go on for hours and hours, until we were too tired to think of the next scene. To me, there was nothing more fun, or more exciting.
These are the kind of games reserved for children. It’s not something we want to grow out of, it’s something we have to grow out of; to be an adult acting out imaginary adventures is not seen as fun, it’s seen as delusional. So when I heard last year that there was a new trend of amusements called “escape rooms”, I was beyond excited to try it.
What is an escape room you ask? Well, these are places you can go that have a variety of themed rooms that you and your group must escape from within a certain time period. There is a locked door that you must open, and a trail of clues that, if solved, will eventually lead you to the key that will open the last lock. It’s not a game of force, but a game of cunning and skill. Most escape rooms boast a low percentage (below 30%) of groups that are actually able to solve all the problems and escape as winners.
I was able to experience one of these escape rooms on my trip to Vancouver last September. My room was themed as Ancient Egypt, complete with hieroglyphs, sand covered floors, a pharoah’s sarcophagus, and mummified cats. It was just my boyfriend and I that went into the room, and they warned us we would be at a disadvantage because of our small number. A group is more coercive to success because you can get everyone working on different puzzles. That being said, we did get 80% of the way through, and we found the secret coin which gave us a discount on our next visit, so we were pretty proud of ourselves by the end.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say this: I definitely felt like a kid playing pretend again. Before entering the room we were given identification cards, giving us a character and also a first clue. We were also handed old-looking lanterns (electric, not with actual flames), which we would need as our room was quite dark. As we held up our lanterns to the hieroglyphs on the walls, or lit up the inside of an unlocked chest, we felt like real archeologists, grinning excitedly through each puzzle we solved.
In short, I would highly recommend trying an escape room. They’re becoming quite popular because they’re inexpensive, and so much fun for such a variety of ages and types of people. Great for a corporate team building activity or just with a group of friends, you won’t find anything else quite like it. Harness your inner child for an hour and go play pretend!
You can find many in Southwestern Ontario and across Canada. The prices range from about $20-$30 per person and it usually lasts about an hour. Here are a few that might be in your area:
Mystery Escape Rooms
551 Waterloo Street, London, Ontario
Price: $25-28 depending on room (Students $23-26)
Exodus London Escape Room
520 Wellington Street, London, ON
Lost City Escape Room Mind Game
Unit9, 1050 Kipps Lane, London, Ontario
Price: $20 (Summer promotion)
Unit 101, 283 Duke Street West, Kitchener, ON, Canada
Price: $46 CAD for two people
The Great Escape
165 Geary Avenue, Toronto, ON
Price: 1 player $26.00, 2 players $52.00, 4 players $95.00
AT Escape Inc.
173 Sheppard Ave West, Toronto, ON, Canada
Price: $30 CAD per person
1204a Yonge St., Toronto, ON, Canada
Price: $28 CAD + HST per player
4448 Queen St, Niagara Falls, ON