What is an escape room you might ask? It’s a puzzle room – a room with a theme, filled with clues, and you have to escape from it by solving the puzzles.
I had heard about the popular Escape Room trend for a year or so but it never occurred to me to go and do one. There was one briefly in Kamloops but it was a popup store and didn’t last long. Then there was an Exit Canada franchise in Kelowna and as puzzle rooms go they were considered to be among the best.
Exit Canada is a pretty polished operation with puzzle room franchises across Canada. The rooms are themed – Black Ops, Ninja, Mannequin and Mystic Jungle. Black Ops and Ninja are given three out of five stars for difficulty. Mannequin and Mystic Jungle are given five stars. Each room has a soundtrack playing that matches the theme of the room. Think ticking time bomb – it added a bit of pressure to say the least!
I put it out to some friends that I wanted to do the one in Kelowna. No surprise, they leapt at the chance and organized their schedules to make sure we got it done before my birthday. There were seven of us – Me, Jody, Gerry, Krista, Jaydan, Monica, and Ethan. Five adults and two kids / teens. Four women and three guys. We picked Black Ops and booked our time. Each time slot is 45 minutes and you don’t get one second longer. I might add here that nationwide the success rate for players at Exit Canada outlets is a mere 1%. Only one out of 100 efforts is successful.
We got to Kelowna on February 13th and immediately loaded up with sugar and carbs at IHOP. We got to the location and were quickly given instructions about how the devices and clues in the room worked. Padlocks – seems pretty straight forward. No cell phones or recording devices are allowed and they have lockers to put your stuff in.
We entered the room at our allotted time and all of us were at first a bit stunned. Then we started to get to work. I’m not going to tell you about the clues and puzzles but they were good. The room was laid out like a military bunker in the 1940s – maps, clocks marking time in different locations, a dead guy in the corner… you get it. Everything could be a clue and the premise was we had to crack the combination to the lock on the door that would get us into the next room. There were three rooms in total.
Tick tock… there is a clock counting down your 45 minutes…. Tick tock
We made it into the second room and then had a bit of a misunderstanding regarding how one of the locks worked. This probably cost us 10 minutes of trying to solve a puzzle that really wasn’t that hard. We finally had the pieces of the puzzle to get us into the third room but figuring out the door lock set us back another few minutes.
By the time we got into the third room we only had three minutes left. We were doomed! Our time was up and we were all so pumped it was like we were on a caffeine high. We finally understood how the concept worked and then we were out of time.
We had our picture taken with props indicating we were in the 99% and then went out side. I swear if felt like a gambling addiction – we all wanted to go right back in.. This time we could defeat it! If only this had happened… blah blah blah…
We’re still talking about it and strategizing for our next visit a week later! I think the coolest thing was how well we all worked together. I can think of some collections of people who wouldn’t work that well together, but we rocked and I so want them on my team again!
Why was this crazy?
It was just fun, and a bunch of people I care about took almost a full day out of their lives to do it with me. That’s crazy awesome!
Would I do it again?
Hell yes! The only problem is they change up the clues every few months so even if you knew what worked last time, it might not work the next time. At least this time we have a feel for how it works – we won’t have that 15 minute time loss based on a false assumption, and we won’t have that two minute beginning where we’re just stunned about where to start. Next time we will hit the puzzles running!