The Attractions Magazine team was recently invited out to try the all-new Smoke & Mirrors: Houdini’s Final Escape at The Escape Hatch of Orlando.
In Smoke & Mirrors, guests take on the role of paranormal investigators attempting to exorcise the ghost of Harry Houdini from a haunted theater before some big money investors come to take a tour. And those investors will be arriving at the theater in – would you believe it – one hour!
The basic theme, (paranormal investigators exploring a theater haunted by a magician’s ghost) did remind us of Fright Before Your Eyes but the room was drastically different both in our goals and how we would accomplish them.
This room chose to center the story on the familiar character of Harry Houdini, and borrow from the man’s real life and illusions to deepen the immersion and create a compelling experience.
The theming of the room, props, and effects were all very detailed and well-constructed. The tech mostly worked well, with one little hiccup coming from a projector not playing nicely. This glitch didn’t detract too much from our experience and, hopefully, this was just a small bug still being worked out in the system.
The Escape Hatch games apparently all feature a dedicated game master, and our experience with Smoke and Mirrors included several unique interactions with them. We really liked that the story of the room incorporated the employee in a way that didn’t feel intrusive and actually added to the experience.
Also, uniquely, Smoke and Mirrors offers two different versions: “hard” and “expert.” We opted for “hard” just to ensure that we would get to experience the entire room. Humorously, this led to us wasting a certain amount of time attempting to solve a puzzle that was unnecessary for our version of the room and only fully implemented in the “expert” game.
Our team this time consisted of five very experienced players and one first timer, and we managed to escape the “hard” version of the room with around 32 minutes left on the clock (the record for the room at the time of this writing!). We attribute this mostly to having a very well-rounded group of players who were each capable of handling a different aspect of the variety of puzzles.
And the puzzles were all very different while still fitting nicely into the theme and lore of the room. The different types of puzzles and obstacles meant we never felt like we were just solving the same type of puzzle over and over. One of our biggest pet peeves in some rooms are overly tedious puzzles designed to be time sinks (e.g. puzzles with a long series of letters to translate one at a time, or with many small parts). Thankfully, this room didn’t include anything like that, and the puzzles had an open-ended feel, allowing everyone to work on different stuff at the same time.
Of note, the website mentions that some areas of the room are not handicapped accessible and may be challenging for those with mobility issues. We were a little disappointed to find that this truly meant guests with wheelchairs would be incapable of fully experiencing this room, and tried to provide some suggestions for ways they may fix this. With how new this room is, we hope that they are able to find some solution that can allow everyone to enjoy this game.
We had a great time playing this room and just chatting about escape rooms with our game master afterward. The team at The Escape Hatch has a passion for escape rooms, and it showed through our conversations and the love they put into crafting their games. They asked for our feedback after the experience and seemed genuinely interested in trying to enhance the game based on our comments.
We would consider Smoke & Mirrors a moderate-to-difficult room ideal for players with a wide variety of puzzle-solving abilities. We think the issues we had with the game are all solvable and, hopefully, with time, these can be ironed out and make Smoke & Mirrors a wonderful experience for everyone!
The Escape Hatch of Orlando is located next to Fun Spot Kissimmee on US 192. For more information or to book an experience, visit EscapeHatchOrlando.com.