How you should prepare yourself for your very first escape room visit

New to this Escape Room thing?

Feeling a bit overwhelmed or unsure as to how to best prepare for your very first escape?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Gather your team

Escape room visit step 1 – assemble team

Teamwork is a basic theme of Escape Rooms so no wonder that the first thing you must do is gather your team.

You need to know exactly how many people are in your team, since you’ll need to book an appropriate number of tickets.

Now, most bookings are just people having fun so I’m not going to start a discussion on what kind of ‘particular set of skills’ you must look for in your team but you absolutely need to make sure all the people in the group know each other on first name terms. Why that is, I’ll explain later.


Choose your room

Escape room visit step 2 – choose an escape room

The entire team must sit together and choose what kind of Escape Game they want to take part in.

Do you want to match wits with someone who may be the infamous Zodiac Killer (I solemnly swear I have no idea why I started with that very specific theme)?

Does a horror theme appeal to you?

Would you like to gather evidence or escape detention?

If you can’t agree on a theme, or theme just isn’t that important for you, check out Escape Rooms in your area. Yelp and TripAdvisor are great places to start your search. You can also look up blogs that review Escape Rooms, though be on the lookout for spoilers!


Set the date and book your mission

Escape room visit step 3 – set the date

With the Escape Room and mission chosen, now’s the time to set the date.

Typically you need to book tickets in advance.

Remember, Escape Room missions are usually one hour long, add to that some time, say 15 minutes for the staff to sign you in and brief you about the mission, then there may be a half hour post-game for the debrief, post-game photos and celebrations if you manage to get onto the leaderboard.

That’s almost 2 hours at the room itself, plus another one and a half to two hours to travel to the Escape Room and back home – making it a total of 4 hours.

So you need to set a date when the entire team is free for 4 hours.

With the date set, go to the Escape Room’s website, visit their booking section and make your booking.

Apologies, it seems I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself. Before you make the booking, you should remember the concept of ‘private booking’ and ‘public booking’.


Private bookings and public bookings

Escape room visit step 4 – decide whether to go for private or public booking

Some Escape Rooms will allow even 2-3 member teams to take part in a mission by themselves, for a higher fee. That is, if the per person ticket is $30 and the mission can accommodate up to 8 players, a 3-player team may be allowed to compete alone via a ‘private booking’ worth $150.

In other words, a ‘private booking’ scenario would involve teams with up to 5 players paying $150 (the ticket size for a 5-player team) while larger teams would be charged according to the team size.

On the other hand, some Escape Rooms go for ‘public bookings’ which means a 3-player team may be clubbed with a 5-player or a 4-player team for a 8-player room.

The basic question to be decided is – are you willing to pay a higher amount so that it’ll be just your group in the room or would you be willing to team up with strangers and be billed a lower amount?


The Day Arriveth

Escape room visit step 5 – reach the escape room ahead of time

Most Escape Rooms require that teams arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the booked time. This is so they can sign you in, brief you on your mission, and so on.

Mobile phones and cameras are not permitted inside some rooms – make sure you check out their FAQ’s explicitly for this point.

You may be provided a place to keep your phones and cameras but they remain your responsibility and the Escape Room may not assume liability for any damage.

One more important thing to remember here is clothing. Many missions have some tasks involving physical activity like crawling or climbing. Even without those, the rooms are designed to create a dramatic atmosphere so they won’t be just another room with a few chairs and tables.

So avoid wearing loose clothing that could get stuck on odd ends and rip off. Avoid pointed shoes. Avoid wearing clothing that you need look great in but is a bit tight or itches or something.

Remember, the whole point in an Escape Room is to focus on the various puzzles and tasks. You can’t do that if you’re constantly fidgeting with your clothes.

Finally, not that you’re likely to require it, but carry some kind of a confirmation of your booking that you can show the Escape Room staff should any discrepancies crop up.


When you arrive at the Escape Room

Escape room visit step 6 – go through the briefing

Get your team signed in, deposit your phones and cameras if you have to, get yourself acquainted with the game master and get started on the briefing.

The briefing is not boilerplate. Pay close attention to it. There may be some clues embedded within it, or some instructions you need to adhere to.

BTW, if you aren’t convinced of how important the briefing can be, I would highly recommend you watch the movie ‘Exam’.

With that out of the way, you need to get 3 things done, all of which are equally critical.

  • Ask the game master how to request hints and how hints will be given to you. It sounds fairly simple but in the tension of the game it’s very easy to got confused over it.
  • Get to know how to respond to an emergency, like a power cut or one of you falling ill mid-game.
  • Make sure to visit the washroom since you can’t very well ask to use the washroom while the game is on. Don’t drink a lot of fluids before the game…for obvious reasons. But you may consume a limited amount of coffee to keep yourself alert.

Remember how I said the team must be on first-name terms? In the Escape Room, typically members of the team will have to work separately at various places in the room and communicate with each other. So make sure you know each other by name and can call out to anyone within the team when you think necessary. This is particularly critical if you’ve been grouped with another team in a ‘public booking’ room.

And that is how you can best prepare yourself to beat Orange County’s most popular escape room.