REVIEW: Revisiting Escape Game Orlando For Round 2

You know the drill - it's waiver time!

Four years ago, we visited Escape Game Orlando for the very first time - shortly after their opening. It feels like that was a lifetime ago, so it's a fine time to see what's new and how the missions have evolved. After all, there is a bit of brilliance behind any escape venue that proves itself enough to stick around, and Escape Game Orlando is doing it right in more ways than one. 

The game we initially played in 2015 ("Classified") is no longer part of the roster. When we played, "Classified" and "The Heist" were the only options at this fledgling location. Now, there are SIX, and they all appear to be leaps and bounds beyond the games that this location opened with. Escape Game Orlando has expanded its portfolio and they increased the originality of the games and the appeal and depth of the scenes in the process. 

Ironically, on our way to the location, we discussed the types of clues we knew to expect, wondering how they'd be used in the game we selected - The Playground. If you've done multiple escape rooms, you probably know what I mean. There are certain things you can expect to find in your missions regardless of where you choose to play. (Think blacklights, my escape room fans.) It's not that these are bad features... but you start to learn what types of things to look for as you become more familiar with escape room concepts and strategies. The Playground was a bit of a surprise in the sense that it was really very original. Many of the usual techniques you get used to in escape room play didn't present themselves in this one. It was an entirely new beast!

Details... All the way down to the classroom pet!

This time around, our team consisted of five hopeful escape artists - three of us who are somewhat escape-experienced, a first-timer, and a true pro who has 40 rooms under his belt (including all of the rooms at this location, except this one). 

The premise of The Playground is as follows... Your team has to complete the assignments on your report card to earn your "escape" from Mrs. Clayton's 4th-grade class and start your summer vacation. Your report card consists of ten tasks. The room is designed to accommodate up to 12 players, and we were urged to bring as many as we could find. Great advice, because 4th grade has gotten a bit tougher since I was there last!

Can I just say that it took us an embarrassing length of time to just tackle attendance? From there, we seemed to get our act together a bit. After a big flurry of chaotic, cooperative clue-gathering, everyone seemed to break off into sub-teams on different missions to divide and conquer. Every now and then, someone would abruptly shout something out causing everyone to ask what everyone was working on... but never really waiting for an answer before getting back to their own assignment. Not gonna lie - we happily accepted a few clues that helped us make sense of things that were pieced together, but not quite in place. Once something jiggled loose, that beautiful domino effect took over,  and we'd all take pause to wonder how we completed a burst of assignments in one sudden moment. And just when and how did the classroom door open into the next room?? We couldn't tell you - but it was open nevertheless. Not quite an escape just yet, but I think we were all rather happy to spend some time in the playground!

Need a clue?

Yes, you are supposed to climb it... and then some! As this is a spoiler-free zone, let me just say that I took the above photo well before anything was revealed in the room. Bring your inner child, and try your best to avoid the fun distractions that you have to address along the way. It is tempting to stop playing to... well, play... but keep your focus on that time clock. You still have about half of your report card to complete once you gain access to the land of temptations here! Again, I strongly advise that 'divide and conquer' approach, but keep close and in communication with your entire team because you'll need to come together along the way. (I hope you paid attention there, ahem!) The very last challenge is an incredibly appropriate and awesome way to end the game. We could barely stop giggling long enough to tackle it. We were having a ball leaping around in a hustle, and it really just capped off the whole experience in the best way.

Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for... Did we escape? YES! With ONE second left to go, we made it out! I tried to give our amazing Game Master, Mary, all the credit for that, but she minimized her clue contributions, reminding us that we were short seven players. So yes - we'll take that win and wear it proudly. It was not an easy game, but it was perhaps the most fun one I've faced thus far. As for the rest of the team - We have two that rank it as a favorite, the newbie is completely hooked now, and our seasoned pro loved it, but still prefers Escape Game Orlando's ever-popular Prison Break. We're somewhat divided, but all impressed, and we'd put this one as a must for any escape fan - and the escape-curious. As far as escape rooms go, Escape Game Orlando is certainly playing their A-game these days, and we can't wait to see what all the buzz is about with Prison Break next!

Have you played a room at Escape Game Orlando? Maybe you've played a few? We'd love to hear about your experiences and which rooms score highest with your team!  Check out all the current games and book your own experience (currently $34.99/person) at Escape Game Orlando.