Archive for September, 2018

We Offer You This Chilling Challenge – To Find a Way Out!

September 1, 2018

Me and My New Friend From The Asylum Room at Dare 2 Escape

Dare 2 Escape Review by NumberOneSon

You are ushered into an abandoned insane asylum. The lighting is dim, blue and eerie. The walls are dilapidated and smeared with blood. A stained old cot sits in one corner and a creepy doll stares at you from another. You are told you have one hour to escape or you’ll be trapped here with the ghosts of the dead forever. The door shuts behind you.

Click.

The clock starts now.

This is The Asylum, one of several themed “escape rooms” at Dare 2 Escape on Hwy 192 in Kissimmee, part of a growing worldwide escape room craze.

Here’s the short version of my review: Dare 2 Escape is awesome. I highly recommend it to everyone. (And if the above scenario sounded too scary to you, don’t worry, they have several themed rooms, including an archaeology-themed escape room that’s billed as 100%-non-scary and child friendly.)

Escape rooms are like live action video games. You and a group of compatriots must work together to solve a series of puzzles and ‘escape’ the ‘locked’ room before time runs out – you search for clues, decrypt codes, and unlock secret chests. (Don’t worry – for safety’s sake you aren’t literally locked in and you can leave at any time if you need to.)

I remember when I first heard about escape rooms. I was super excited to try one out… but boy was I disappointed when I did my first one a couple years ago. We went to one of Dare 2 Escape’s competitors, The (not so) Great Escape Room in Orlando. Even though it seems to get good reviews online, everything about the experience was underwhelming. First off, the (ostensibly Sherlock-Holmes-themed) room had the absolute bare minimum of theming and felt very low budget. The game took place in a nondescript room lit with bright florescent lights, and the puzzles were often made with re-purposed children’s toys. The room had all the atmosphere of a game of Monopoly in the family rec room. Second off, the employees seemed bored and not particularly welcoming. Third off, I remember feeling the puzzles often seemed a little unfair. (The Great Escape Room’s website boasts that most players fail to complete their rooms – I suppose that might be attractive to some challenge-seekers, but to me it says that the puzzles need tweaking.) If you’re curious: we didn’t escape The Great Escape room in time, but they gave us some extra time and some hints so we could finish.

Anyway, Dare 2 Escape was much more impressive and much more fun. The difference between the two was night and day. After my previous experience I was keeping my expectations in check, but when I walked into Dare 2 Escape’s dark, nightmarish, abandoned asylum, part of me was instantly like “wow, this theming is fantastic – especially for a small mom and pop company” and part of me was, naturally, like: “Aaahhhh, get me the heck out of here!”

 

Anyway for the next hour I had a blast. Some things I appreciated:

1. It was nice to have a spooky haunted-house-like experience where the focus was more on dread and suspense and careful exploration, and less on things constantly jumping out at you (though I’m not going to say there wasn’t the occasional jump scare.) This is the kind of experience where you find a cabinet covered with a big sheet, and slowly, slowly, reach your hand out to pull it off, very nervous about what you might find.

2. I also appreciated that the proprietors understood the importance of lighting when creating atmosphere.

3. There’s a hint of social commentary – the game nods at the history of asylums as places that were used to silence and control women.

4. I thought the puzzles felt hard without being unfair (and some of them were rather clever.) The scramble to solve everything in time was hectic but fun.

5. There were a couple of delightful surprises that I won’t spoil.

In the end, we beat the game just under the wire (though they helped us with one or two major hints, and even briefly paused the clock a couple of times.)

Anyway, there are, amazingly enough, over twenty escape rooms in Central Florida. Is this one the best? Having only experienced two escape rooms in my life, I couldn’t say. But I have seen several hardened escape room veterans online report that Dare 2 Escape is one of the best they’ve done. And I can say I loved it and am looking forward to trying D2E’s other rooms. All the rooms are designed by a husband-wife team and after experiencing The Asylum Room and talking with the husband afterwards, I can tell this project is a real labor of love.

Check it out sometime…if you DARE…2…

http://dare2escape.com

Price: $30 per person

[Disclosure: we were generously given free admission to Dare 2 Escape as part of a hospitality industry event. However, we assure you we do our best to remain unbiased with our opinions. In this case, there was no expectation of…or even a request to…do a blogpost.]

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