Back in March it was Chris’ birthday and we never really know what to do for it as he’s one of those “I’m not really bothered” people. However I love to throw a party so I always want to try and do something. Over the time we’ve been together, we’ve had an Alice in Wonderland murder mystery, a board games night and also just going out for dinner with a group of friends. However this year we had tossed around the idea of an “Escape the Room” (sometimes called Exit Room). Having looked into it locally, to see what was available, we decided it was definitely something we could do, if enough of our friends were interested. Obviously there would be Chris and I, so that was already two and most rooms only allow for five/six people (some do go higher but it’s not common and some are even just five – which is awkward when you’re in couples!). We asked my friend Nat and her partner Dan, who Chris gets on well with, along with Chris’ friend Jon and his partner Becka. We also asked my brother and his partner, but they weren’t able to make it – which in the end turned out better with us only being able to accommodate six players. We did however decide to go out for dinner at Frankie and Benny’s beforehand and my brother (who is also Chris) and his partner Erika, came along to join us for that.
Before I get too ahead of myself, for those of you who are wondering “what is an escape room?” well the answer is fairly simple and pretty much as it sounds. You are placed in a room – and you need to escape. There are always varying scenarios, whereby you’re trapped, locked in etc and you need to find the way out. It’s not as simple as just finding the door, or a key etc. it’s supposed to last up to an hour and so it’s a series of clues and puzzles. Usually, the game is timed and you have 60 minutes – the concept being that you get locked in for good if you can’t escape in that time. However of course, they have to let you out so they can continue to let other people play – but it’s fun to pretend and I guess you walk away as either a winner for managing it or a loser for not managing it.
So given where we live, the best choices for us were Lincoln, Doncaster and Scunthorpe for the Escape Rooms. Lincoln however, has very “Lincoln” themed rooms – with themes like the Magna Carta, Lancaster Bomber, Time Machine (Tank related), and Lincoln Imp. None of these themes really appealed to us, so we narrowed it down to Scunthorpe and Doncaster fairly easily. Doncaster had Clueless Detective Agency, Ward 13 (Asylum), and Hostage. They have a new one called The Heist coming but that hasn’t opened yet. Scunthorpe only had two options, Sherwood and Prison. Since there wasn’t an awful lot of information or way to tell which would be best, we went for Scunthorpe as it was marginally nearer and since the Prison one had a higher difficulty rating, we went for that. In truth I think that Chris might have preferred to do Ward 13 but having never done anything like this before, I was a bit of a baby – wondering if there would be live action actors in there and then I’d get freaked out!
On the night of Chris’ birthday, after we’d had dinner, we all headed off to “Open the Door” in Scunthorpe. When we arrived, we had to read these information sheets about what we were or weren’t allowed to do, then we had to store all our coats, bags and especially phones, inside a locker. Next we had to split into two groups (though I think this was specific to this scenario). We were then blind folded and lead into the room, in the two separate groups. When we took off the blind folds, you could see why we had to break into two groups – because three of us were locked in one cell and three were locked in the other. Typically we had split into girls versus boys and I’m glad we did cos often boys annoy you when their methods are different to yours! The three of us girls worked well together too, so it all worked out.
First we had to figure out what was in the cell. There was writing on the wall, a tool box under the bed and a sink. We could also hear the boys, but not see them, as their cell was right next door to us. We could see out into the main part of the jail too – where a desk, mirror and lockers could be seen. While I don’t want to spoil the actual plot and clues for anyone who goes here, I will give you a rough idea of what we had to do – starting with the fact the boys found a torch in their sink pipe, so we thought to look in ours too and found one as well. We weren’t really against each other either, so it was nice to throw about ideas between the boys and the girls. The things on the wall lead us to believe we had to figure out some number combinations as we had two lots of combination locks in our cell. The boys had something handing from the ceiling they couldn’t reach and it turned out that one of our combination locks, opened a box that allowed a string to be lowered and they could reach the box! Anyway, we had to do multiple things in our cells, which eventually lead to finding a remote control car under the lockers out of the cell, which when driven to the cell, had keys in that meant we could unlock ourselves. Once in the main room, there were so many things we had to do, including get inside two lockers, figure out how the desk drawer unlocked, see if the telephone did anything, why the mirror was hinged etc. There was a jigsaw type puzzle, as well as some number/letter puzzles and it was really a lot of fun. In the end we made our way through to a secret room, where there was map and coordinated, a little laptop and a safe. We had so much fun and no one got mad and shouted at any point.
We made it out in 52 minutes, when the deadline is 60, so we were all pretty pleased with that. I will admit we did have a little help from the “admin” as they give you a walkie talkie and occasionally point you in the right direction. For our first experience though, it was a definite thumbs up and we all agreed it was something we would love to do again. After discussing it with the kids the next day, it also sounds like something they would like to do, so we hope to do another, maybe with the girls and even my mum. All in all, I loved the idea of the puzzles and a scenario where you need to escape. It wasn’t too hard but just the right amount of adrenaline pumping, in order to get you excited. From a specific perspective, the Open the Door rooms in Scunthorpe were actually easy to miss on the street and when we had mentioned them to the waitress at Frankie and Benny’s, she didn’t even know they existed. However the service we got was fantastic and friendly, we rated them 5 stars on facebook when we got back and I would be happy to recommend their rooms to anyone. As someone who loves to throw Murder Mystery parties, I have seen they now do at home Escape the Room games and I would definitely be up for trying that too.
Have you ever done an Escape Room?