The first time I visited Escapology Orlando, the escape-room enterprise hosted me because I was doing research for a magazine article. The second time, I paid my way because I wanted a bonding experience for my family. Success! My 18- and 22-year-old budding engineers had a grand time. So when I was invited to try out Antidote, the new game set to debut June 26, 2015, I scurried back to Orlando's International Drive for Challenge No. 3. What fun! I highly recommend Escapology Orlando.
"Ten out of 10, I'd do that again." That was a guest, a 22-year-old University of Florida Aerospace Engineering senior, in the car on the way home. "That was amazing." Back at the house afterward, I heard snippets like, "Maybe we can start a franchise in Gainsville!" along with plans to bring a whole group of friends to test their brainy skills together.
For me, Escapology Orlando is fun but over my head. If I set out to "escape" one of the themed rooms in an hour with a bunch of ladies just like me, I'm not sure how we'd do. Poorly, I suspect, although we'd have a delightful time trying. Many "I need wine NOW!" jokes would be part of the dialog. But my husband and sons, and their friends, are keen puzzle-solvers and game-players, so this kind of ridiculously tough task is pure thrill for them.
I can't tell you too much without ruining the experience, so I'll be brief. First, you gather in a lounge-like waiting area, where an upbeat, savvy young staff treats you like friends.
At the time of your reservation, you'll be ushered into a briefing room, where you'll watch a clever little film explaining your chosen game. In Cuban Crisis, for example, it's up to you to keep those infamous missiles from being launched. You'll find the whole story on the website. It begins like this: "You are Gerrard “Gerry” Droller, a CIA Field Operative. Your code name is Don Frederico and you work directly for the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, undercover in Cuba."
In truth, the theme is essentially beside the point. It's a fun gimmick. In reality, you'll find your group locked in a room. When your hour starts, you'll run around like maniacs searching for clues. You'll decipher codes, attempt to open locks and use a whiteboard to take notes on discoveries. Castro who? Cuban what? No matter.
Things can get heated. "No! No! Stop! Write this on the board! Now! Now!" "Stop being a meanie!" Yet, would you want mellow teammates? They may not be as effective.
Every 15 minutes or so, if you're falling behind schedule, an employee will pop into the room to offer hints, assuming you want the aid. So far, we have never turned it down.
Here's the backstory for Antidote, the newest game.
This room is more polished than the others. The puzzles are rather clever, although one was, I thought, too difficult to solve and for a silly reason. Still, this is a multidimensional experience that will really get you hurrying, thinking, and even opening up your mind. If you're into that kind of brain-exploding adventure, I'd recommend giving Escapology Orlando a go.