Finally, a Family Activity Which isn’t Going to the Movies


Timeout Escape Rooms

Beth S (Year 12)

A few years ago, my family and I accidentally stumbled upon a pretty cool hobby. Escape Rooms.  

If you don’t know what this is, you basically get locked in a room with your team and have to solve riddles and clues to escape before the time runs out. If you do not succeed, then whatever disastrous outcome the plot line says is going to happen, actually happens! (not really)  

My family and I have done over 30 rooms. When you have 4 people who don’t like watching movies all that much, this is super fun. We’ve done them across the country, and across the globe too! 

The coolest part of these rooms (unless you’re a nerd like me who likes the puzzles the best) is the immersive experience, with such unique concepts in each room. The first room we did was Harry-Potter inspired, with all sorts of ‘wizarding wonders’ and spell-based riddles. Most recently was a demon dentist room in London, with details such as medical tools and anatomic diagrams.  

The plot lines are what make the rooms so engaging and believable. From fighting off invading aliens, to finding who kidnapped a family member, to defeating the Mexican cartel or escaping an asylum, there’s all sorts of interesting stories to participate in. (Not that I liked being locked in an asylum with creepy photos and writing – as my friendship group can most definitely attest to.)  

If you’re a lot braver than I am, there are also rooms with ‘fear factors’. Scary plotlines, creepy moving objects and voices, and live actors. While it’s a hard pass for me, this is a great experience for anyone who enjoys horror films. (Some have age restrictions, so just consider this if you’re thinking of booking one). 

Each room is controlled by a game master, meaning if you get too stuck, they are there to lend a helping hand. One thing we’ve learnt is not to be too proud to ask for clues. After spending 15 minutes arguing about getting a clue one time you suddenly realise how much easier and quicker it could have been if you actually just flagged your struggle. 

The escape rooms are also all different difficulty levels and have unique pass rates depending on who’s escaped. Some can be seriously low, like 10 or 15%, whereas others are designed more for beginners, with higher percentages. If you’re thinking of trying a game, definitely start with one of the easier ones, to get the hang of what you’re looking for and how the clues might be connected. One of the easiest rooms we did, it only took us 15 minutes (being given 60), which was a Toy Story-themed one in Paramatta.  

Also, there are what are known as linear and non-linear rooms. Linear basically means that each clue directly leads to the next, and your progression is pendent on your answer for the clue you just found each time. Non-linear means anything can be relevant to anything else, which can be quite confusing, especially without proper communication. So, make sure you’re talking with whomever you’re locked in with! 

There are many rooms worldwide, with more than 40 in Australia right now, though this is increasing all the time. Some even incorporate AR to create an even more believable experience! 

The top hints, in case you’re considering: 

  1. Don’t choose a hard room just yet. There’s plenty of easier rooms that are just as interactive and interesting, without frying your brain with weird puzzles. 
  1. Choose the right team. Speaking from my family’s experience it’s very hard being locked in a room for 60-90 minutes with someone screaming (it’s me, I was the one screaming). 
  1. Look at everything. Literally anything could be interesting, including all sorts of very easily missed pieces of information. 
  1. Have fun! If you don’t escape, the storyline doesn’t really come true, so you haven’t actually caused the end of the world.