The first live escape room originated in Japan in 2007 and have been rapidly infiltrating the world ever since. Here in Perth, we have a number of different of Escape Room businesses across the city, but until now, most have been directed only at adults or teenagers.
Perhaps it's something to do with all the death and dying that befall the people unfortunate enough not to get out within their one hour (not literal death, don't worry) that prevented younger kids from joining in – until now.
Escape Hunt in Fremantle have recently opened two new rooms called The Young Wizards Quest and with a storyline reminiscent of Harry Potter (you need to restore the magic to the school before the Wuffles find it), it directly appeals to kids but is just as engaging for adults as well.
Unlike other themed rooms, there is no death or dying, and you get to work in the light (no pitch black rooms). There is also no limit to the number of hints you can ask for, and if you're wondering – no, they don't actually lock you in the rooms, that would be a fire and safety hazard.
I was invited to bring along three kids to try to the new Young Wizards Quest room, and while I have three of my own, it was clear that my six and eight year olds were still too young. There is no upper or lower age limit on this game, but I wouldn't recommend anyone under 8, and then only 8-10 year olds if you think they have the attention span and curiosity to last an hour in the room and have done something like this before.
My three young wizards were all 11, and while they were all bright kids, for this type of game it's not about how book-smart you are, but how logical and creative you are – finding clues, seeing patterns (although in this instance, reading books WILL actually help. That's the only clue I'm giving you).
How does it work? Book online and then show up about ten minutes before your game starts. This gives you time to explore the cool props and maybe take a picture or two, before all your worldly goods are locked away (no phones or cameras allowed in the room). You are taken to your room, given a brief explanation and then the timer starts.
You have an hour to solve the clues, but if you need any help you are given a walkie-talkie to call your Game Master in for a hint. They won't give you the entire clue, which is good – but they will let you know if you're on the right path and then suggest what you might need to do next or something you've overlooked. If you get stuck – don't wait to call in a hint, it's much more fun if you're able to proceed to the next stage.
I can't tell you much more about the room without giving anything away, but the kids loved it. It was their first escape room and they found it a bit hard at times, but appreciated being able to ask for clues, and after we saved the wizarding world from impending doom with six minutes to spare, they came out buzzing and asking if they could do another room. (They can – The Lost Treasure of Captain Black is also suitable for younger players).
I wouldn't send them in on their own, they definitely needed some adult guidance at some points, but it was a truly unique experience for them and a perfect school holiday activity. It's definitely not cheap though, a four-player game costs $152 (or $38pp). If you only bring two people it's $84 ($42pp) and if you have five players it's $180 ($36pp). If you have more than that, you can book two rooms and the teams can race each other to escape first.
After your hour is up – regardless of whether you were successful or not – you're invited to hang around in their themed waiting area and even provided with a free drink. This is where everyone madly discusses what just happened, trying to make sense of how they achieved it (or not). Keep in mind other groups might be waiting to start their turn, so make sure you don't give any clues away.