If you haven’t had enough time in a confined space with your nearest and dearest recently, (or if you’d like to learn a few skills for breaking out just in case, God forbid, we’re ever locked down again), there’s a new wizard-themed escape room in York that you might like to try. We took our young wizards along to test our puzzle-solving skills.
The Wizards’ Emporium escape room is a new venture from Rehab Piccadilly Cafe Bar, a warm and welcoming family-run business in York city centre. This was our first visit, and we were excited to follow our host downstairs to begin our adventure. At this point I’ll admit to some trepidation: not only were we inexperienced at escape rooms, but there was a chance that our collective brains had turned to banana bread after too much time in lockdown. Would we possibly be able to work out how to get out, or would we be stuck there forever?
Our friendly host explained the format: it’s a two-room experience, with plenty of puzzles to solve before we would find ourselves back in the real world. It was reassuring to hear that there would be someone keeping an eye on our progress the entire time and they would jump in and offer help if we needed it along the way. With that, we entered the wizards’ merchants with the sole aim of getting out again!
The wizards’ emporium itself has been lovingly created, with lots of attention to detail, from bottles of potions to pointy hats a cloak or two. But we didn’t have too much time to soak up the atmosphere as there were puzzles to solve. The only one of us to have done an escape room before was our eldest (11), so he helped us to work out what to do, from deciphering codes to discovering notebooks and even watching out for things falling on our heads! The girls (8 and 6) were too young to really figure out the puzzles, but they enjoyed joining in with the activities and soaking up the magical atmosphere. Luckily Mr Viking and our boy are pretty good at this sort of thing and, after a slow start, they soon worked out what we needed to do and we whipped our way through the tasks. No sooner had the door opened than we found ourselves travelling via a ‘lift’ to another, larger room (the first one is snug – it’s a good job we were all in the same family bubble!).
After a few more hands-on activities and magical problem-solving, we were back in the real world. What’s meant to be a 45-minute activity had taken us over an hour! We won’t win any prizes for speed, but we’d definitely give this escape room top marks as a fun family activity. It was great to try something completely different from the usual things for families to do in York, and the magical theme is great for kids (and Harry Potter fans in general). If you’re looking for a change from a museum, bowling or the cinema, the escape room is a fun option for older children who enjoy a challenge. Just don’t do what we did and forget to remind them all to go to the loo before you’re locked in! It definitely adds to the sense of urgency.