Arts + Culture

Escape the Danforth! Without Actually Leaving…

It seems like a bit of a contradiction, but for one hour at Looking Glass Adventures you can do exactly that. To the uninformed, an escape room sounds like a crazy idea. Pay to let a stranger lock you in a room full of puzzles and locks that you have to solve within an hour in order to leave? But for thousands of Canadians, the idea is becoming increasingly appealing.

Escape rooms are still a relatively new concept, but they have been gaining traction for the past six years. The idea originated in Japan in 2007 and it took until 2012 for the first escape room to reach North America. Since then, over 8,000 escape room venues have popped up all over the world! There are 200 different venues in Canada alone. Google Trends shows a huge increase in the search term “escape room” from 2015 to 2017.

When you first go to Looking Glass Adventures you might be picturing a slightly more benign Jigsaw from the horror movies, but the owner, Christine Hibbard, is just a regular human being with a penchant for riddles.

I went with my sister (who had done one escape room before), my dad (who hadn’t done any), and my mom (who didn’t even know what an escape room was!). Christine first explained the rules to us. Nothing in the ceiling, nothing in the floor, and most importantly—don’t break anything! Oh, and one more thing:

“The door isn’t actually locked?” My mom asked her in surprise.

“Oh no, if you need to use the bathroom or step out for any reason, you are free to do so,” Christine explained. “We don’t actually lock you in!”

Once inside the room we were struck by the change in decor. “It feels like I’m intruding in someone’s house,” my mom whispered to me. But whose house would be covered in boxes with locks and seemingly arbitrary clues? A common misconception is that you have to be like Sherlock Holmes and make insane connections between coffee stains and the number of scratches on a dresser. Actually, overthinking things can be a detriment. Here’s a tip if you ever do an escape room, order is sometimes more obvious that you would think—biggest to smallest, earliest to latest.

The whole experience felt like it was over in seconds, but it was actually 40 minutes from when we first entered to successfully completing the room. Upon finishing the room, my family and I realized just what attracts people to escape rooms, what makes it all worth it. It was exciting! We felt like the Scooby-Doo gang solving a mystery and searching closets for skeletons. Spoiler alert! No skeletons were found. But what we found was a sense of self-accomplishment.

A publishing student by day and an escape room master by night! In this issue, Kayla Volmar shares her experience at an escape room on the Danforth and how she found “a sense of self-accomplishment.” Kayla is a graduate of Carleton University and currently attends Centennial College.  

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