Are you ready to go on the adventure of a lifetime? It’s time to visit the incredible land of OZ. Follow the yellow brick road and make your way into the beautiful Emerald City, perhaps even meet the wizard himself!
Completion Time: 28 minutes
Date Played: 14th July 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: For a theatrical and brilliant escape room, and fans of the Wizard of Oz
If there’s no place like home… And home is where the heart is… Or so the phrase goes? I think?
Point being, Wizard of Oz was the first physical room we (all three writers at The Escape Roomer) played together, and my heart is bursting with love for my fellow teammates and with pride at how well we did! If home is where the heart is, my heart is sitting in a hot air balloon basket in Gravese- I mean, Oz.
We came to play Wizard of Oz on this sunny Wednesday afternoon after work as the three of us found ourselves conveniently near Gravesend. Mairi in London, and Al & Ash visiting Margate. In the middle lies Gravesend: the home of The Panic Room, one of the most well-loved escape room companies in the country.
With a few hours to spare, we used their handy ‘last minute booker’ to see what was available and booked in to play The Wizard of Oz! Score!
Here’s how we got on:
Once Upon a Time in the Land of Oz…
Fans of the original book or film will be absolutely delighted by this escape room as both the decor and the story are very true to the original! Or at least, I think they are. It’s been a good 15 years since I’ve watched the film and *gasp* I’ve never read the book.
This room puts you, and your band of adventurers, into the heart of Oz as you land your hot air balloon slap bang in the centre of the yellow brick road. Up ahead, majestic green gates, and what follows is a journey through all the famous locations of Oz up to the terrible Wizard’s inner sanctum.
No points for guessing that your goal in Wizard of Oz is to find three rather valuable items:
- A heart
- A brain (eww squishy!)
Along the way you’ll meet a cast of characters and fantastic puzzles that exist perfectly in the fictional universe The Panic Room have built upon. But will you be able to find your own way home, back across the rainbow? That’s the question!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City
I think after mentioning that the story follows the plot of the film it’s not so much of a spoiler to say that Wizard of Oz is a multi-room experience. So now that it’s out of the way, a note on the theming of this escape room:
10/10 FOR THE THEMING!
That’s it, that’s the note! I’m kidding. But really, this game is beautiful for fans of the original Wizard of Oz and complete newbies alike. With the exception of one slightly cheesy pantomime video sequence, The Panic room have really nailed that whimsical, fantastical feeling of being whisked away to a faraway world. This room has so much love and attention poured into it.
My favourite of the spaces where the curious shops and alleyways of Emerald City itself, being able to hunt around and interact with what felt like a real street with it’s own shop windows was magical.
Our host Sam was involved in the escape room at the start, doing a brilliant job to setting the scene in character before we stepped out into the big unknown by ourselves. It’s the little touches, such as ‘arriving’ into the room in a hot air balloon’s basket (rather than just walking through a door) with an enthusiastic balloon pilot by our side. A round of applause for Sam!
Wizard of Oz seems to pitch itself at a family audience… Or does it? Kids these days largely haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz. I mean, the film did come out almost 100 years ago.
It was also, for all intents and purposes, a slightly dark (story-wise) room with complex puzzles that be bound to frustrate younger players. On the flip side, there are some search-and-find puzzles and more than a few fun places to put codes into, but never once did I get the impression it was a ‘family’ room in the slightest. Just a really brilliant fantasy room.
An (Almost) Record Breaking Attempt
I didn’t want to write a review for Wizard of Oz and not mention the fact that we managed to escape in the second fastest time the company has ever seen… 28 minutes!
Beaten only by the current Red Bull Champions. For a first time team comprised of Al, Ash and myself (we’d never even met in person before let alone played a real life escape room), I’m impressed! I say bring on the Red Bull Escape Room Championship 2022!
Sometimes you play an ‘easy’ room and the puzzles don’t click. The Wizard of Oz was the opposite – everything clicked seamlessly for us, and the teamwork was infallible, making the whole thing an absolute breeze with zero hints… Well, one nudge, and one clarification.
The Wizard of Oz: The Verdict?
Loved it. It’s set the bar for other rooms at The Panic Room Gravesend really high, but I’m already counting the days till I can go back and play another. Highlighted in my memory by fantastic teammates, a great host, and an all round unexpectedly lovely Wednesday afternoon out.
The Wizard of Oz can be booked at The Panic Room Gravesend.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.