Adventure Rooms Canada: Niagara Falls' Great Escape
By David DeRocco
As a tourist in Niagara Falls, there are dozens of places you can wander into that will leave you feeling trapped, confused and in desperate need of a quick escape. If you ask Lisa Thomas, Adventure Rooms Canada is the one place that’s actually worth paying for such an experience.
Adventure Rooms Canada is billed as Canada’s first 60-minute real-life escape room game, a race against the clock designed to engage – and frustrate – your powers of logic and puzzle-solving skills in a fun and creative way. The concept of your Adventure Rooms experience is simple: you and your group get locked into a room packed with a complex web of clues; you have 60 minutes to make your escape. Along the way there are puzzles to solve, items to utilize, mysteries to unravel and other unique items of varying degrees of usefulness required to get you through the labyrinth of doors, gates, panels and locks keeping you inside.
Modeled after the original game developed by Swiss physics teacher Gabriel Palacios and his brother David in 2012, Adventure Rooms Canada’s Queen Street location is the second international franchise operation Thomas has opened in Canada, the first being the original location in Kitchener. After discovering the Adventure Room concept while travelling in Bern, Thomas knew immediately the attraction would be a natural for Niagara Falls due to the mass appeal of the activity.
“Adventure Rooms Canada appeals to all ages and groups” said Thomas, president and CEO of Adventure Rooms Canada. “We have children celebrating birthdays at eight years old, as well as senior players that attend with their families. It is a very popular team-building option for students and corporate teams alike. People also join us for date night, nights out with friends/family, bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays/anniversaries and holiday parties. We have also hosted six successful wedding proposals in our tenure between two cities.”
Make no mistake – your Sudoku-solving prowess alone is not going to be enough to get you out the door. Adventure Rooms Canada’s two game rooms will require every ounce of enhanced logic, critical thinking, ability to work under pressure and, depending on who you are playing with, extreme patience, communication skill and team work. Even then Adventure Rooms Canada advertises a 20 percent success rate, and that’s just fine with fans of the experience according to Thomas.
“The majority of our customers understand that it will be challenging, and is meant to be. An open mind and an understanding that 80 percent do not succeed, but that the most important part is to have fun, is essential to the experience.”
Thomas is quick to deflect any notion that because Adventure Rooms is an international franchise that the challenges and obstacles built into in her games rooms are simply the same pre-fab elements found in every location. The truth is, the Adventure Room games fans maneuver in Niagara Falls are unique to that location.
“In each country, especially Canada, Adventure Room owners design the layout, game space, flow and decorations that each game will have in them based on their personal and cultural preferences,” explained Thomas. “We are free to include elements, stories, ideas and puzzles that we invent. It is a very creative, dynamic and engaging process for everyone.”
Clearly the formula is working locally. Adventure Rooms Canada earned a #1 ranking on TripAdvisor within just three weeks of opening – at one point outranking the Horseshoe Falls as the area’s #1 attraction. And despite the fact 80 percent of the groups, teams, couples and individuals don’t make it through – at least not on the first time – Thomas says people going through once are usually quick to book another Adventure Room challenge.
“People very rarely feel that our puzzles are too subtle or difficult to solve,” said Thomas. “Anything that a team is struggling with at the end of the game is revealed to them, but only that particular puzzle. Very rarely do we have a customer say "there is no way I would have gotten that." If this is the case, it is often just one member of the team or because it is a visual perspective challenge for them, but they "understand" the concept. In fact, usually it's "oh that makes sense, I see it now!" and a laugh. We do test our games with various groups (of differing skills, ages, group sizes and experience rates) prior to launching them to the public in order to ensure that things are not too tricky to solve and that everything works accordingly. And for about the first 50-100 public games after launch we are always make small modifications as required to perfect things. We want people to have a great time regardless of score.”
To book your Adventure Rooms Canada experience, visit http://adventurerooms.ca/booknow/.