UPDATED. After The Wizard’s Lair, we were hoping The Magician’s Menagerie would be less buggy. The three of us returned (after Ritual Room and Wizard’s Lair), hoping this room would be more Ritual Room and less Wizard’s Lair. Unfortunately, it was plagued by technical problems which really made the experience rather frustrating. A few interesting and new puzzles, but Escapism should really do more beta testing before opening a room. A few simple changes would make the room much more enjoyable. See below for the full review.
UPDATE: I’ve heard back from Escapism and they’ve made some adjustments and updates to their rooms. I talked to people who have gone through the rooms since our visit and they’ve confirmed these changes. So all of my technical complaints should not be an issue. It is good to see that Escapism takes the customer’s experience seriously and is interested in providing a great experience. Escapism also remains one of the few companies in Portland that provides private bookings as a standard practice, which is hard to find in U.S. escape rooms.
“Pierre Renaut was a world famous magician at the peak of his influence just two days ago. Now, he is a reviled prisoner soon to be hanged for the astonishing murder of his young assistant, Alita. During the grand finale of his show, Pierre performed his saw a girl in half illusion, but Alita was really sawed in half! Pierre claims his prop must have been tampered with, but no one believes him. Step backstage and discover Pierre’s world behind the curtain. His turn at the gallows is in just 60 minutes, unless you can prove his innocence. Learn the secrets behind his “magic” tricks and how it could have gone so wrong.”
A couple hours before we were to head out to Escapism, I got a call and was told we’d already done the Wizard’s Lair. Oops!! Escapism was kind enough to let me rebook the right room, no problem, which was a relief. Escapism takes customer service very seriously which is nice to see.
The same employee/actor was on hand when we all showed up. This time, we brought a ringer–my 6-year-old niece. Given the gruesome nature of the storyline, the actor did a great job of giving us the story without getting too gorey. This would not be an escape, but instead, we had to find the clues to clear the magician’s name.
We encountered a couple of technical problems, all of which complicated the experience. Three items were supposed to unlock a clue. We put in the first two items and heard a tell-tale sound of acceptance. After the third item fell silent, we knew something was wrong. We fiddled around and finally had to call for help. The fix came when the employee to come in and jostle the heavy prop around until the clue fell out. Like magic!
The other problem was a light source within easy reach. We tried the switch, but no light came on. Later on, when fiddling with a device that was supposed to activate something, nothing was happening. Looking around, we couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong. Eventually, we found out that it was to activate a switch we had unknowingly turned off. This problem could easily have been solved by a “do not touch” sign on the device that we were not supposed to touch, as there were with a number of other props.
Another problem involved letters that could be read two ways. I’ve encountered this in other rooms. If a clue can be read two ways, it should be clarified rather than require multiple attempts for each possibility. As an example. The letter O is often confused with the number zero. An upside down M looks like a W, and vice versa.
If Escapism had fixed/avoided these problems, we would have really enjoyed the room. But these distractions watered down the experience and took quite a bit of extra time. In the end, we finished, but I’m not sure if the employee let us go a couple minutes over.
The set and decorations were fun and fit the theme. There were some cool props and puzzles. Escapism is also one of the few companies in Portland that allows you book a room to yourself with as few as 2 people, which I really appreciate. I was really looking forward to 2 new rooms from the company that brought us The Ritual Room. Unfortunately, Escapism’s rooms are all over the place, both literally and figuratively. After this experience, Ritual Room is the only one of the 5 rooms I’d really recommend.
Cost: $90 for 2-5 people, $120 for 6-8, and $150 for 9-12 (I’d recommend 4-6)
Location: 910 NW Joy Ave, Portland, OR 97229 (Out near Beaverton)