Tactical Extraction from Escape Manor
Two weeks ago, none of the Aero Circus team had much idea about what is known as an “escape the room” kind of activity. While browsing in a toy shop, one of the team found a reference to this kind of game. Intrigued, and always up for a challenge, we did some research. Here is what happened.
Discovering the Destination
According to legend, modern day escape rooms are inspired by ‘escape the room’ style video games. Games are set in a variety of fictional locations like prison cells, dungeons and space stations, and the various puzzles and riddles themselves follow the theme of the room.
Escape Rooms are a growing phenomenon all around the world. According to Escape Room Hunters, in Australia there are almost 100 sites around the country, most with multiple rooms.
In our corner of South-East Queensland there are a number of escape room sites. For no particular reason we chose Escape Manor at 51 Edward Street in Brisbane CBD.
Booking the Trip
When it came time to book the date and time for our planned adventure, the Escape Manor website was a great experience. It was very informative and easy to use, showing the availability of time slots and number of single places available. This way one or two people can join a group that is short of members. What a great way to meet new friends!
After booking we received immediate feedback via email, which provided all the information and directions needed for the other members of the team.
The better half of one of our more jittery team members (who shall remain nameless), asked if we could take some embarrassing pictures of him in The Asylum. Sorry, we are not allowed to take videos or photos in the rooms. You owe us, Nick!
Arrival at the Airport
The four clowns from Aero Circus arrived at Escape Manor in Brisbane CBD, excited, nervous and curious at the same time. As none of us had any knowledge or experience with ‘escape rooms’ – which appears to be the generic term for these mini-adventure games – we really had no idea what to expect.
As soon as the doors of the elevator opened, we were drawn into their fabricated world. Reality for us was on hold. Our hosts Peter and Kelley immediately made us feel very welcome. We entered our basic details on their iPads and signed the usual waivers. Let the fun begin.
As pilots we should be able to solve problems – and sometimes complete mysteries – up in the air while maintaining control of the aircraft, the passengers and our own bowels. The punishment for failure can often be somewhat terminal, or at best quite messy. To be able to do that effectively, we spend a lot of time and money training and practicing for every likely eventuality.
At Escape Manor, the only training we got was a five-minute briefing from our host Peter. In hindsight, everything he said to us before the game commenced was absolute gold. We all wish we had paid more attention. As we should have during all those pre-flight briefings years ago. Only around 30% to 40% of teams solve the mysteries and unlock the door with the allowed time, so we were already behind the eight ball.
Ready for Take-Off
Today we were entering ‘The Asylum’, a condemned area of an abandoned mental institution. Our challenge, should we choose to accept it, would be to solve a bunch of ‘puzzles’ in order to find the key that would allow us to escape the asylum. Otherwise the mad scientist will return to do whatever mad scientists do, like recite the periodic table in Latin or some such other unbearable horror. Or worse, call us losers and laugh at us.
No mobile phones allowed (unless you are really desperate – in which case maybe consider going to a real asylum), and no external items required, everything you need is in the room. Although some of our more ‘experienced’ members should have taken their reading glasses to help with the fine print.
Once in the room, we were given some more insight into the background of this diabolical situation that we now found ourselves in. Then it was up to us to figure out how to secure our freedom. 45 minutes flashed past in an instant, and none of us remember anything. So don’t bother asking for a ‘heads up’ before you go and experience this for yourself.
Landing & Taxi
So, how did we go? Make no mistake, this is a team challenge. It doesn’t matter how smart you think you are, as an individual you cannot physically solve this game.
As a team within Aero Circus, the 4 stooges complement each other with a different set of life skills and abilities. This proved to be useful in The Asylum. When a puzzle eluded one person, eventually someone else managed to solve it. Often two or more people would gather clues and share their findings, allowing a challenge to be solved, sometimes by what almost felt like magic. It was one of those times when the whole was indeed much greater than the sum of its parts.
In the end we managed to unlock the door and escape The Asylum with 148 seconds to spare. We don’t believe that we could have made it with any less than four of us. Would the full complement of six have made life easier? Probably.
Fear of Flying?
For those with claustrophobic tendencies, this particular room was the size of a small bedroom, the door is never actually locked for OH&S reasons, and you are monitored by video from outside just in case anything untoward should happen. And this is not a chamber of horrors where you will be scared out of your wits as in some other traditional entertainment precincts.
So, don’t let that stop you experiencing one of the best new entertainment experiences to hit Australia in the last 20 years. For corporate groups this should help bond and motivate your team. For groups of friends, you might just discover that the quiet one in the group is the one that ends up saving your bacon.
So, go buy yourself a pair of new shoes if you need to, but just do it.
What some clowns had to say:
“An experience not to be missed” – Aero Nick
“You could easily get hooked on this stuff” – Aero Ian
“Time and reality stopped” – Aero Fab
“Creepy, scary and not all there – and that was just our team” – Aero Gavin (get well soon!)
So, now it’s two weeks later, and none of the Aero Circus team still has much idea. About anything. If you are brave enough to accept this challenge, go to the Escape Manor website and quote the Promo Code “Aero Circus” when making your booking for a special discount.