You may call me….Keeper….for I am the keeper of theme park tales….
Our adventure today once again takes us from the glitz and big budget worlds of theme parks entertainment ,for you, my friends, as we continue our exploration of the most prized component of a themed entertainment experience….story. As we’ve spoke of time and time again, you can have the most technologically advanced ride and effects on the planet, but it is not complete without a story. A story is the lynchpin that connects all the pieces together and makes the whole bigger than its parts. The easiest example is my beloved Poseidon’s Fury at Islands of Adventure…same building, same effects, but subtract Zeus, add Darkenon, and dumb down the story and you have…well I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly you have there for many, many years but I digress.
With Mrs. keeper and daughter in tow we headed to an unlikely location in a small shopping center in Winter Park to examine one of the “escape room” games that have recently come to the area. I have not yet experienced all of the rooms in town, but did do a team building group experience at the downtown Orlando room last year.
Last year, was a mixed bag. Although the puzzles were beautifully crafted and intertwined, the Sherlock Holmes theming consisted of a audio commentary by Holmes and his silhouette in their logo. That seemed in stark contrast to the Jig-Saw’s lair feel of the waiting room and contemporary décor in the escape room itself. For us, it illustrates that it’s easy to add a story and theme but not so easy to do it well.
In comparison, the shopping center façade of “It’s a Trap”, in an unassuming shopping center outside of the tourist corridor, has interesting posters of the different adventures on the windows to lure you in, and a well lit comfortable waiting room that even has outdoor seating for nice days. There are puzzle boxes for you to warm up with after you check in while you await your turn to be locked in.
After being given a short rule briefing you, and up to seven additional guests, are led into one of two rooms where your are locked in for 60 minutes and your adventure takes place. There are currently two different stories that take place in each of the two rooms so you can come four different times without repeating yourself. You could be locked into a laboratory where you can experience “Patient Zero” or “Apocalypse” or a wizard’s hut where you live out “Magic Mirror” or “Imprisoned Creatures”. As you might imagine, I felt a bit more comfortable in a wizards hut so our party joined up with two additional players to become part of the Magic Mirror story. Yes, we WERE part of the story. Our day to day identities were left in the waiting room as we became characters in an improvised play. There was a talented actor sealed in the wizards hut with us that became our guide, our muse and our friend through the story. In our story she played the part of the magic mirror and had a different relationship with each of the different players in our group. Strengths were discovered and weaknesses revealed and we were guided as a collective toward collecting various clues using deduction, magic, alchemy and just plain luck until we unearthed the final spell that broke our imprisonment. Yes, team keeper got out in about 43 minutes and learned many details of the storyline in the process that explained who the girl in the mirror was, why we were trapped and what it all meant to the overall story. Your story will vary depending on how well you, your friends, and perhaps some random strangers are able to work as a team. Not all get out and there are various twists, turns and outcomes in the individual stories.
I cannot stress enough how much attention to detail went into this experience. You were in an interactive set….lights, sights, sounds, and even smells were used in the puzzles to enhance the story. In our story there were also magic devices that unlocked that which was locked and made the set change during our story. The whole experience from buying tickets, to waiting room, to facilities, to the actual story itself were quite simply breath-taking. They even sent a post visit follow thank you in email showing that there is indeed some wizardry behind the scenes as well as inside the locked rooms. Trust your pal, keeper my friends…sometimes you don’t need to have someone invest millions of dollars, wait in line 2 hours, remember where you parked your car, dodge selfie sticks and chanting mobs, or pay $100 a head to be completely consumed in a wonderful story. Sometimes, just sometimes, all it takes is someone with a willing ear and a few dedicated storytellers read to spin a tale because they know….
Every Day’s An Adventure
Stay tuned for more story filled adventures, and be sure to get social with us on Facebook, and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!