Reviewed by Tricia Shaw
When I first watched The Crystal Maze as a child my favourite rooms were the mystery rooms. I often wanted to have a go myself and now that Escape Rooms have become so popular I have finally had a chance to experience one at Don’t Get Locked In (a family run business in Wing near Leighton Buzzard).
We set off with “Don’t Get Locked In” typed into Google Maps and headed onto the Leighton Buzzard bypass (A505/A4146) out towards Wing. We found the Acorn Farm Business Centre fairly easily and parked in the free carpark very close to the entrance. A single sign pointed us down a narrow path between the buildings. We arrived at a door which opened onto an eerily plain and quiet corridor; intrigued and unsure what to expect we followed it round the corner and through another door to where a very friendly lady called Cathy greeted us and showed us through to a waiting room with comfy seats and a toilet (you don’t want to get caught short whilst in the escape room!). Cathy explained about the Kudos challenge and what we had to do to get out of the room.
The Kudos challenge is based on how many extra clues you need to complete the challenge. Gold is 0-3 (with a special prize if you manage it), Silver 4-7 and Bronze 8-11. As a team you need to decide if you want to try to complete the challenge in the quickest time possible or to complete the challenge with fewer extra clues but perhaps not as quickly. We knew that our main aim was to escape but we hoped to do it with as few extra clues as we could. Having heard about the challenges we sat down to watch the video introducing our scenario and setting some house rules.
The Secret Hut
Set in the 1940s the scenario was that top-secret plans from the German High Command had been found and were being decoded in a secret hut near Bletchley (now well known for being the place where the enigma code was cracked). Unfortunately, all of the agents who were working on decoding the plans had mysteriously disappeared. As a team we needed to find the plans before it was too late. We had one hour!
Knowing that the building we were in had actually been used as offices during the Second World War for the nearby airfield added a bit of nostalgia to our experience.
With 1940s style felt hats on our heads we entered the room and our time began. Without giving anything away all I can say is that there were lots of wartime paraphernalia and plenty of doors and drawers to open and look for clues. Padlocks that required number codes or keys that were all based on deciphering the clues. Teamwork was essential to finding the clues and methodically solving each one until eventually we found the plans and the key code to unlock the room. With about 15 steps to complete in order to escape, everybody had their part to play. We managed it with 4 mins 47 seconds to spare and using just 5 extra clues so got silver in the kudos challenge. The extra clues came up on the iPad by the door (the only bit not really in-keeping with the 1940s theme) and were relevant to our progress through the challenge, although some were more useful than others.
At the end of the experience Cathy gave us a debrief explaining anything we hadn’t understood and pointing out some clues that we hadn’t noticed. There is a 47% rate of success on the Secret Hut so we were very pleased to have escaped.
Don’t get locked in is a family run business that has been going for a couple of years now. “The Secret Hut” was the first room created. It was joined by “The Rock”, which is based on the well-known Californian prison, last November. Both rooms are suitable for 2-6 players but you will never have to share the room with anyone else, even if there are only 2 of you. We went as a family of 4 with children aged 14 and 11. The Secret Hut is for ages 8 and upwards although the younger ones may not feel able to participate fully. The Rock is advertised as being for 13 and over – I can’t wait for the youngest to be old enough to do it.
It was fantastic to have the family working together not arguing and not even looking at a mobile phone or other electronic gadget for a whole hour! It was great fun and we all came out buzzing and planning to do another one soon.
I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys solving puzzles. It is great for team building and would be ideal for a party with a difference. At £20 per adult, £18 for over 55s, £16 for young adult (13-17) and £12 for children (8-12) it is not cheap but it is certainly worth doing. There are currently a variety of offer codes on the website: 25% off a family of 4 or more, 25% off 6 adults, and hen/stag party offers. See the link to their offers page for more details www.dontgetlockedin.com/special-offers/
If you are thinking of doing it as a party for your teenager then you can even sit comfortably in the waiting room and watch them as they try to solve the clues and escape.
For more information or to make a booking visit www.dontgetlockedin.com.
Don’t Get Locked In, Acorn Farm Business Centre, Unit 5, Cublington Rd, Wing, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 0LB