Canada… it’s not as boring as I thought. Sure, most activities include huddling inside your house under a million blankets trying to keep warm. And when you are ready to brave the cold it’s pretty much only to stuff your face with as much poutine and beaver tails as possible. But on my recent trip back home to Canada I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a new activity that didn’t have anything to do with hibernation or binge eating. Since I moved away, a year and a half ago, it seems that Escape Rooms have become the latest “thing to do”. A mixture of a haunted house and a puzzle, escape rooms are a game where you and your group are locked in a themed room and you have to solve a series of puzzles and clues in order to escape before you “die”. Sounds morbid, but we’re really into that here in Canada.
I recently experienced my first escape rooms when I was visiting Toronto, Canada to attend my office holiday party, because there’s really no better way to promote team work than to lock yourself in a room and then try not to die (for real!). We broke into random teams of 4 and were each assigned a different themed room at Roundabout. My team was assigned Final Destination, a scenerio where our plane was out of control and we had to escape in 45 minutes before it crashed… I know, perfect for an avid traveller like myself.
The room realistically mimicked the inside of a plane. It had the seats, curved plastic walls, airplane windows, overhead bins, a cockpit, meal cart, everything! We were told that our objective would be to first find our parachute and then the key that opened the door so that we could jump out. They told us that at the end the game things would turn Hunger Games style and we would have to fight it out for the parachute because only one of us could survive… that didn’t really seem like professional team building so we decided to ignore that part. After solving a series of clues we escaped our room alive with only seconds to spare.
Determined to do another escape room before my trip was over, and because there is literally nothing else to do in Ottawa… seriously nothing at all, I organized a small group of friends in Ottawa to go to Escape Manor. We randomly chose to do The Gallery, a scenario where we were art dealers who had stumbled upon a small creepy gallery when the door slammed shut behind us and we heard a voice say “I’ll be back in 45 minutes for you”. I thought that since I had already escaped from an escape room that this would be easy but that assumption was very very wrong. We walked into what looked like a real art gallery and started off pretty promising, solving our first clues quickly. But 2 hints later (you can ask the Puzzle Masters for hints when you are stuck but you are only allowed a certain amount) we were almost out of time and at another stand still. We clearly were not going to make it out so we decided to ask for another hint, which would mean that we had more than our allotted limit of hints and would lose.
After receiving our third hint we were excited to finally open the safe and find a key. Thinking that we were going to escape we tried to use the key on the door to find that it opened to a new room full of creepy porcelain dolls and a doll house. There was a doll in the middle of the room with her head cut off and, although we only had 2 minutes left on the clock, it’s pretty safe to say that I contributed nothing in this new room because I was too terrified to go in. Time was up and the puzzle master came in and showed us how to solve the puzzle. Turns out there was still another room filled with clues behind a bookcase in the creepy doll room, and we were no where close to the end.
Escape rooms are probably my new favourite thing to do in Ottawa and Toronto. They are the perfect way to escape from the cold. If you are visiting or are a resident I would highly recommend trying one with a group of friends. The costs is roughly $20 CAD per person and should be booked in advanced as it fills up very quickly. Remember that each room has a completely different theme and level of difficulty.
Happy travelling and happy escaping! If you don’t comment below I’ll know it’s because you didn’t escape. 😉
Note: As those of you who follow my blog know, I sometimes exaggerate and my posts can be quite cynical. So before all you Ottawa residents fill my blog with angry comments, I would just like to say that there actually are some fun things to do in Ottawa… I guess.