Nearly two years ago I shared my thoughts on the top 5 Best Escape Rooms in Orange County. What was a rising hip trend has become a fully fledged recreation industry complete with die hard enthusiasts. You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes to enjoy an escape room, they’ve become a popular social activity for all groups. With their sudden prevalence it can difficult to choose which room is right for you, especially if you’re new to the game. I’ve sifted through the legions of escape rooms and have determined my top 5, all of which have a unique excellence that makes them worth checking out.
It’s no secret that we at Firefly Team Events love escape rooms. With so many rooms to choose from it can be daunting picking the right room for your team. With the help of my fellow escapees I compiled a short list of my favorite escape rooms in Orange County. I consider theming, creativity of puzzles, difficulty and overall entertainment value. If a room sparks your interest I encourage you to check it out, let them know who sent you and see if you can beat our time!
Read our blog on how to make escape rooms more meaningful for corporate groups http://fireflyteamevents.com/escape-rooms-corporate-team-building/
1. Red Lantern Escape Rooms – “Midnight on the Bayou”
First of all, this room design is gorgeous. Utilizing a whopping 1,000 square feet, the crew at Red Lantern completely transport you to a sultry Bayou evening. In a market saturated with prison breaks and cramped rooms it’s refreshing to visit an expansive, immersive environment that wouldn’t be out of place in Disneyland. The creativity doesn’t stop with the set design, even veteran players will enjoy the unique puzzles and well crafted storyline.
2. Mission Escape Games – “Escape the Hydeout”
Speaking of Disneyland, right across the street at Anaheim’s Gardenwalk, Mission Escape Games hosts “Escape the Hydeout” which is as clever as its wordplay suggests. Inspired by the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, teams must follow clues left by Jekyll before Hyde returns. I enjoy the reference to literature other than Sherlock Holmes, but the real place this room shines is the puzzles and clue system. Often rooms might brag they are “hard”, but the difficulty is just due to complete leaps of logic. In Hydeout, the puzzles and use of tech are extremely creative and sideways thinking, but nowhere near impossible. The staff do a great job when giving hints, not ruining the puzzle, but guiding your thought process so you still get that great “aha!” moment.
3. Crossroads Escape Games – “The Fun House”
I’ve already sang my praises for Crossroad’s Hex Room, which I believe is still one of the best rooms out there. I was hesitant to check out The Fun House because a super creepy looking clown looms over its entrance and after being scared in the Hex I was not about to subject myself to an hour trapped with the most horrifying creatures on the planet. Well, I feel sheepish to admit it, but the Fun House is not only light hearted fun with no scariness in sight, it’s actually the best room for kids in the county. Most escape rooms have age limits starting around 10, but the Fun House welcomes all ages as long as anyone under 13 has a grown up with them. You’d think in a room fit for kids the puzzles would be overly simple and obvious, but I found that they were actually enjoyable for adults as well. The room isn’t overly difficult, it’s escape rate is a comforting 40% so I recommend it especially for new players.
4. Escapade Games – “Zoe”
There’s some strong overlap between the escape room and haunt industries. Nowhere is this influence more prevalent than with Escapade Game’s room “Zoe”. The difficulty rating is set to Medium, but in order to escape you not only have to keep your wits in solving the clues, you’ll need to literally stop yourself from running out of the room in terror. Seriously, they keep a tally board of teams that do this. Throughout the game you’ll be able to travel through several immersive environments, similar to a maze at a horror event. In order to concentrate on your clues you’ll need to take them with you to a place of safety…if that feeling is possible to achieve in such a scary place. Many horror rooms can come off as cheesy, community theatre actors grunting in imitations of chained zombies, but Zoe has all the production value of a Hollywood thriller.
5. Unlocked – “Return of the Magician”
Escape rooms don’t all have to have elaborate sets or flashy technology to be a good experience. When completing Unlocked’s “Return of the Magician”, you’ll repeatedly experience surprise and appreciation for the well crafted, intuitive puzzles and how well they fit the storyline. Magic is always fun and Unlocked gives you a glimpse into the workings of several magician’s tricks leaving you feeling like a cool insider. They also aren’t afraid to be silly, so you’ll get to expect laughter, not screams from this venue.
Escape Rooms Tips for Newbies
When your team is ready to try out an escape room make sure to be clear about the facility’s policies. Some rooms are a flat rate for the hour, while others are a per person charge which could lead to being partnered with strangers. Plan to have dinner or hit the bar after your escape since your team will want to talk about the experience. If you want to use the outing as a team building tool consider hiring a team building professional that can facilitate a debrief of your time and help your team examine how they solved the problems together. Remember that escape rooms can be stressful which may cause individuals to speak shortly to one another. If your team is stressing out have everyone take a breath. It’s meant to be fun!
As the industry develops we see lots of room types become available. Experiences vary dramatically between fun kid’s jaunts to terrifying houses of horror. To have an escape room style experience brought to your office or convention contact us about our Team Escape! by emailing email@example.com
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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