Hot on the heels of my first Escape Room experience, I joined the leadership team from Polesden Lacey on Wednesday, for an intensive day of learning from London heritage and tourist attractions. The day involved the recently refurbished Museum of Childhood, theatre in museums at the V&A in South Kensington, and a pop-up catering experience, but the most relevent element to the subject of this blog was Time Run, a very different escape room to History Mystery.
Built into a very unprepossessing industrial space near London Fields, Time Run did not connect with the place in the way that History Mystery did. The mystery was entirely made up, based on the myth/legend of the Spear of Destiny, or Holy Lance, which (according to the Gospel of St. John) a roman soldier (named as Longinus, but not in the bible) used to stab the crucified Jesus to make sure he was dead. According to some conspiracy theorists, the whole second world war was started by Hitler in order to obtain the magical power of the relic.
Which of course makes a great premise for a game which took us players to a future Space Station, orbiting the earth, had us raiding an ancient temple, and finalling sneaking into the office of fascist architect Albert Speer. (aha I just realised Speer – Spear! I must be slow on the uptake).
Our property team was divided into four competing teams, with two starting at the same time, and the next two starting 45 minutes later. So the space duplicates the rooms and puzzles and obviously expects each team to take about 20 minutes in each room, and then the operators to take about 20 minutes putting the room back together for the following group. This set up seems a lot more time efficient and sustainable than History Mystery, but does rely on being able to replicate sets within a “white space”. Trying such dual operation in an historic space would be more difficult. Having the teams progress through three rooms though, would mean a higher turn-over of customers and thus be more sustainable, as the tidy up team doesn’t have to wait for the whole experience to be over before getting to work. After the experience (my team were the only one of four to complete the puzzles, by the way, but even we went three minutes over time) we asked what sort of staff they had to operate the venue, and they said there were eight people.
The sets and puzzles, unrestrained from conservation concerns or fact, where rich and more detailed than those of History Mystery. The temple for example had “stone” pillars that could be swiveled, wall panels that slid away and statues that could be moved about (the house conservation team joked about having to put on cotton gloves before daring to touch the them).
All in all it had more of the feel of the 80’s channel four show The Crystal Maze (which has now become an escape room experience of its own).
Now I have to dash, I’m joining other team who are visiting Hampton Court Palace today.