Home » Not Ready to Return to Orlando’s Theme Parks? This Immersive Local Attraction Might Be The Next Best Thing

Not Ready to Return to Orlando’s Theme Parks? This Immersive Local Attraction Might Be The Next Best Thing

You don’t have to return to theme parks to have a fantastical adventure in Orlando…

Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have both reopened, but many guests are still nervous to step back into Florida’s theme parks. Things are still a little weird at both resorts, and guests looking for entertainment in the Orlando area might be curious if there’s any way to get theme park quality thrills without the crowds.

We might have just the puzzling adventure for you…

We’ve written about escape games before, both in regards to their potential to inspire theme park attractions and how they remain some of Orlando’s best attractions for theme park fans. The base concept is simple: a team of guests are given a limited amount of time (usually an hour) to escape from a themed room. Don’t worry– the room isn’t actually locked if you need to get out in an emergency. In many ways, escape games are like living, hands-on versions of old point-and-click adventure games like King’s Quest or Myst—a literal locked room mystery that can only be escaped through guests solving clever puzzles.

While escape games are growing in popularity across the country, Orlando has a unique concentration of some of the nation’s most creative escape rooms. These aren’t your typical jewel heist, prison escape, or serial killer scenarios… Many of Orlando’s best escape games carry theming and stories so well thought out, you might think you’re at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort.

The best part? All of the escape games listed have instituted smart policies to keep guests safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can check the policies for each location at their websites (linked below), but general rules we’ve seen include thorough cleanings after every game, contactless check-in methods, requiring masks in common areas, and best of all, most companies are giving guests private gaming experiences only—no teaming up with strangers!

Curious? Here are five of the top escape games we found in the Orlando area, as well as what type of theme park fans might enjoy them…

1. The Escape Game Orlando (for fans of Frontierland, Mission: SPACE, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

We’ve gushed about The Escape Game Orlando before and will happily do so again—this place remains at the top of our list for theme park regulars looking to try top notch escape rooms. They are also the only escape game we’ve had the pleasure of visiting in person post COVID-19, and they are doing a great job keeping guests safe.

We’ve played most of the games at The Escape Game Orlando, and our favorite room thus far is Gold Rush. This rustic adventure gives guests one hour to locate a lost cache of gold hidden by an old prospector. The multi-room setting reminded us distinctly of Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland, and the puzzles were some of the most fun we’ve found in any escape game so far.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, fans of futuristic adventures like Epcot’s Mission: SPACE or Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain may enjoy Mission to Mars, where guests find themselves trapped inside a Mars landing pod with only one hour before cosmic radiation fries your vessel. We take teens to the Escape Game Orlando every year, and this one has proven a surefire hit with every group.

Basically, all of the games at The Escape Game Orlando are excellent. Their version of The Heist (many escape game companies have some sort of heist game) is fun and well-layered. Prison Break is a doozy when it comes to difficulty, but its cinematic themes may remind some guests of The Great Movie Ride. Special Ops: Mysterious Market is a particularly well-thought out adventure to foil a terrorist plot and even their newest game, Playground, keeps topping charts for its immersive schoolyard setting and innovative puzzles.

Learn more at The Escape Game Orlando.

2. Escapology (for fans of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Tower of Terror, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Video: YouTube, Escapology Escape Rooms

Escapology is a nationwide escape game franchise frequently praised by fans for their insanely immersive theming and engaging stories. While they have games for all ages, we appreciate that many of their games will appeal to an older audience with a taste for mysteries.

There are so many choices at Escapology, but one  that stood out to us for Universal Orlando Resort fans is The Budapest Express—a Poirot-style murder mystery set aboard a luxury train (some of you Hogwarts Express just got really interested). Guests who tried Budapest Express lauded its clever layering which takes guests car-by-car closer to identifying the killer.

Similarly, The Mansion Murder gives guests an alternative setting to try out their deductive skills as they solve a murder in a lavish mansion. In some ways, the setting reminds us of Disney’s Hollywood Tower of Terror as well as Universal’s Harry Potter and The Escape from Gringotts.

Have you been missing Disney’s 20000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine voyage? You may like Escapology’s Under Pressure game, where guests have 60 minutes to escape a sinking World War II era submarine. Other games available include Narco, The 7 Deadly Sins, Antidote, and even a Scooby Doo themed room.

Learn more at Escapology.

3. Lockbusters (for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, and Hollywood Horror Nights)

Video: YouTube, Lockbusters Escape Game

We’ll give Lockbusters one bonus point right off the bat—their website appeals to our love for steampunk.

With strong theming across the board, Lockbusters offers several games that we thought Disney and Universal fans would enjoy. First off, their Pirates Adventure game is an obvious draw for fans of Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean, offering guests an opportunity to go on their own quest for buried treasure. Fans of action packed rides like Universal’s Transformers may also enjoy Unstoppable: Chopper Down, a high octane escape experience where guests must escape enemy territory from the site of a helicopter crash.

Fans of Universal’s Halloween Horror nights may find Lockbusters particularly intriguing thanks to their grisly horror games. Cremlocke Manor traps guests in a not-so-whimsical haunted mansion where guests must discover the secret behind a mysterious disappearance to escape. The Collector game takes things a step further into the realm of blood-and-guts horror with a full on serial killer escape. Neither of these games are likely for the faint of heart.

Learn more at Lockbusters.

4. The Escape Effect (for fans of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

The Escape Effect is a new one to my radar, and I’m frankly excited to try it after realizing I couldn’t find hardly any bad reviews for this place. If you’re looking for unique escape game experiences with elements and themes you won’t find anywhere else, you definitely need to check this place out.

The Escape Effect stood out to us for two reasons. First off, they are the only escape game we have ever heard of where game masters can tune the difficulty of some of the games to match the experience levels of the players. Second, they are the only escape game company in Orlando we are aware of who offers game lengths longer than 60 minutes.

The one we want to try the most is A Knight to Escape—a two hour escape set in a medieval castle where you’ve been imprisoned immediately following a nefarious coup. This is no Cinderella Castle–rather, this escape game reminded us specifically of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey as well as another famous Orlando attraction—Medieval Times. Similar to The Escape Game Orlando’s Prison Break, this game also starts with guests separated into two teams—one imprisoned in the light and another who has to find their way through the dark. Pretty cool! Be aware that this unique game requires a minimum of four players.

If online reviews are an accurate indication, The Escape Effect’s most popular game might be Encore, a treasure hunt set backstage in a 1920’s theater. The theming reminded us of many attractions across the history of Disney’s Hollywood Studios—particularly back when it was Disney-MGM Studios. This game also includes unique elements that involve purposefully low lighting.

Finally, fans of the Lost Continent at Universal’s Islands of Adventure may enjoy At Odds with The Gods, a 90 minute adventure that takes guests on a mysterious journey to Mount Olympus. If you’re travelling with a large group, this room is uniquely suited for teams of up to 10 players. Oh, and while it doesn’t tie to theme parks necessarily, The Escape Effect has a Sherlock Holmes themed room that sounds pretty neat!

Learn more at The Escape Effect.

5. America’s Escape Game (for fans of The Revenge of the Mummy, Indiana Jones, The Great Movie Ride, and Halloween Horror Nights)

Video: YouTube, America’s Escape Game Orlando

We bring our journey through Orlando’s most immersive escape games home with America’s Escape Game. This highly reviewed escape game center hosts six completely unique experiences, all surrounding high-stakes adventures.

The most obvious one that stood out to us was Revenge of the Tomb—a game that is actually a sequel to a previous escape room, The Lost Tomb of Monthu. This archaeological quest calls to mind Universal’s Revenge of the Mummy as well as all things Indiana Jones. Offhand, we would say this is also their safest bet for families with kids.

Missing Disney’s Great Movie Ride? You may enjoy The Contract, a mob-themed reverse heist adventure. On the other end of the spectrum, fans of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights may like Asylum—a horror game based in a super creepy insane asylum—or the Caretaker, a morbid adventure where guests have one hour to locate a reclusive caretaker before mutant wolves hunt you down. Supposedly, this is touted as “the most difficult escape room in the USA”.

Other games at America’s Escape Game include Crisis at 1600—a White House counter-terrorism mission—and Pandemic, a heart-pounding laboratory escape for those who just haven’t had enough of the real thing (sorry, we couldn’t resist).

Which one of these amazing games will you be trying next? Did we miss any other amazing Orlando escape rooms? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!

Enjoy this article? Keep reading to find out how Walt Disney World’s reopening has proven a little weird—but not in the ways guests expected…