We’re big fans of Eat at The Works in Aylesbury and so when we heard they’re opening an escape room in the High Wycombe branch I had to do a review! In fact, we’re such big fans of The Works that we even had them catering at our wedding! Plus, an escape room followed by amazing ice cream? What’s not to like? They opened a couple of weeks ago for some trial runs and now they’re fully open.
What Escape Room options do i have at the workS High Wycombe?
There are three different options that you can choose from. There’s Frozen in Time where you have to move through the arctic tundra to a Jurassic jungle to avoid being frozen in time forever. There’s also MI8: Ice Cream where you have to solve a spy mission in an ice cream parlour to stop a sinister plot. Then there’s All Muggled Up. This is a wizard based mystery where you have to follow the clues to collect all of your stolen items before the train leaves. Obviously this isn’t based on Harry Potter in any way!
Each escape room at The Works High Wycombe lasts for (up to) an hour. MI8 and Frozen in Time are both on the first floor, although there’s level access for All Muggled Up. Frozen in Time and MI8: Ice Cream are both suitable for 2-6 people. All Muggled Up is suitable for 4-10 people. As is usually the case, the more you have the easier it is. After a short briefing you have to solve the clues to escape from the room. For anyone who doesn’t like the idea of actually being locked in, don’t worry you’re not. Our door was actually slightly ajar throughout the whole thing!
The Escape Room sets
I had chance to look around all three sets and you could see that a lot of thought and effort had gone into them. There’s lots of nice little details all over the place, a lot more detail than in some other places I’ve seen. Both Frozen In Time and MI8: Ice Cream are across two rooms. You have to solve the clues in one room before you can move to the next.
All Muggled Up is based in 3 rooms (well 4 if you count Slanty Alley) and is the biggest of the three sets. It’s also the most detailed, which is probably why it’s the most expensive. It was quite dark in all of the rooms, except in the ice cream parlour room. There’s CCTV in each room so they can keep an eye on you, just in case you need any help.
All Muggled Up
We opted for All Muggled Up – if you’ve read my blog you’ll know we’re big Harry Potter fans in our house (check out my review of Harry Potter Studios) so it was a bit of a no-brainer really. Originally we’d thought it would just be the four of us. Smallest child would be no help at all so she was left with Nana. However, the owner Roger suggested we’d probably want more people. In the end we had eight of us; four adults and four children. Whilst we are all Harry Potter fans you didn’t need to be in order to complete the escape room.
When you arrive you start in Slanty Alley (see what they did there?) off of which are three different rooms with locked doors. The premise is that gnomes have run off with some of your things and you have to find them before the train leaves. We were told how to get into the first room, which I was grateful for because I don’t think we would have done it without the help. We clearly weren’t in proper escape room mode yet!
Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers in this review of the escape rooms at The Works High Wycombe, but that might mean some of my explanations only make sense when you visit for yourselves. As you’d expect, each room has some clues on the walls and various padlocks. Working out the code for each padlock gives you either an item or another clue to solve. This escape room relied heavily on electronics to move you through the stages which was pretty cool. All of the other escape rooms Hubby and I have done previously relied on locks and padlocks.
There’s a good variety to the types of clues you have to solve. That works well with a group as different people will have different skills. Turns out we’re not so great at adding up and had to do it a couple of times. Or maybe we’re just not very good at remembering calculations done moments before!! There were lots of little elements that we’d not seen before. It seemed to be quite a unique escape room. There’s a lot to do so it’s exciting and fast paced.
We didn’t do very well initially
Having very smugly figured out the first (seemingly obvious) clue we couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working and spent too long trying to make it work. We found out later what we were doing wrong. However I genuinely thought the lock had been set up incorrectly. We were all a bit worried it was going to be rubbish and that we weren’t going to solve anything. Thankfully we were wrong! We decided to ask for help as we were getting nowhere. You can ask for a clue by spinning on the spot, which we did for ages but nothing seemed to happen. It took us quite a while to figure out that we weren’t being ignored – the clues were on the screen in Slanty Alley. It also took us a while to realise the little tinkling noise meant there was a new clue!
Together these gave us a bit of a false start, but it was just down to us not realising what was going on. The clues really did help when we got stuck and they popped up periodically if the host thought they were needed. If you want to be a purist then you could just ignore them because they weren’t audio clues and you could easily avoid them.
Once we got past this though we were absolutely flying. In other escape rooms we’ve done previously there were about 6/8 puzzles to solve. The escape room at The Works High Wycombe had about 15 steps to go through (I think, I genuinely lost track). It really was so much fun. The kids were absolutely in their element.
One thing I will say is that whilst there is a LOT going on in each of the rooms, the puzzles aren’t necessarily linear. In one instance we’d solved a riddle and got to the end of the chain but we thought nothing had happened. It wasn’t until the very very end of the escape room we realised what had in fact happened. There’s another section where you have to put some things in some holes. I have no idea what that revealed when we completed it. I probably should have asked.
The fact that all clues don’t necessarily lead on to the next has both its advantages and disadvantages. If you’ve got 10 people in the room you don’t want them all trying to solve the same puzzle otherwise people will get bored. We were all trying to solve different puzzles and rushing from room to room. That definitely added to the excitement and adrenaline. There was lots of shouting between rooms for help or when someone had opened a lock. On the other hand it makes it a bit more complicated. You solve a riddle and you don’t necessarily then know what to do next.
Did we escape?
Yeah we did! GO US! We had 3 minutes to spare as well but it really felt as if we weren’t going to make it. You remember the clue that seemed to lead to a dead end? Turns out we just hadn’t discovered what the rewards was. Thankfully one of the kids figured it out at the very last minute. Everyone was getting very excited by now. Would we finish in time? There isn’t a countdown in the room at all (which might have been helpful and more dramatic) but one of us was checking the time on our phones. We knew how close it was. Did I mention this bit was pretty exciting??
Once you’ve escaped you can have your photo taken with a shopping trolley going through the wall. Harry Potter did not inspire this escape room at all! This was a nice little end to the experience – everyone likes an “I escaped” photo!
What didn’t we like?
There were a few minor gripes. Some of the props are maybe more fragile than you’d expect. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who had found this. In the initial briefing we were warned to be careful and that if things didn’t work not to keep trying them. Two of the doors opened accidentally when we were there. Within seconds of starting middle child had been able to open what’s supposed to be the second room just by leaning against it. Someone quickly came rushing back in to reset it! He also managed to open the final room before we’d found the tool to open it. He’s only 7 so he couldn’t really have forced the lock.
There’s a panel with push buttons on it. When the host showed this to us she twisted one of the buttons slightly. I think she was trying to put it back were it should have been as someone else had moved it before. Sadly that meant when it was time to solve that particular puzzle the kids twisted it as well. The kids thought that’s what they’re supposed to do as pushing the buttons wasn’t working. Consequently the button then fell off. I spoke to the staff about it afterwards and apparently you needed to push the buttons quite firmly. I’ve suggested that they should make that clear on the clue sheet for this stage. Otherwise I don’t think that feature is going to last very long.
The briefing at the start could have been better. Our host had to give the speech by heart and it did come across as a bit confused. This will improve when everyone is used to it though. I genuinely think these are just teething issues because the escape room at The Works High Wycombe hasn’t been open for very long. The issues are minor and they didn’t detract from the experience at all, although we did feel bad the button fell off. With a couple of tweaks this will be a really good escape room.
“It was interesting, it was detailed and it kept you fully occupied for that hour. I really enjoyed it.” Hubby
What can you do afterwards?
Ummm, eat yummy food!??! You are in an ice cream parlour that also happens to serve delicious waffles and hot dogs. It would be crazy not to have something to eat after all that excitement. I recommend the dirty dog waffle followed by the Oreo cookie sundae. Just remember to bring your stretchy trousers!
Our review of the escape room at the Works high wycombe
Hubby gives it a score of 4/5. I personally gave it a score of 4.5/5. They have managed to pack an awful lot into the experience. The number of clues to solve was impressive, but it didn’t seem overwhelming. That said, I agree that you probably wouldn’t want to do it with just four people if possible. The more people you have, the cheaper the cost per person as well. That’s not to say you couldn’t do it with just four people – there are the clues to help you and you’ll probably not have the false start we did!!
Normally you wouldn’t be able to do an escape room twice but I think I actually could do it again and still enjoy it. There were so many clues solved by other people whilst I was solving my own that it would still be fresh.
We had such a good time and the boys loved it. Our friends who came with us really enjoyed it too. I can see this being really popular for Christmas parties and group get-togethers as well as with families. It would be interesting to see what the other rooms are like as they’re both on a smaller scale – we’ll just have to go back. Middle child has already told us he wants to go back and do the other two.
Ok, this definitely falls outside of my cheap day out cost bracket; it’s more of a treat day. However it’s a very similar price to other local escape rooms but, certainly in the Harry Potter escape room, you get a hell of a lot more for your money. I think, as escape rooms go, it’s very good value. Prices start at £13pp for 6+ people.
Parking / How to get there
Address – 11 High Street, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. HP11 2AZ
Parking – Use town centre car parks. The Wycombe Swan car park is right across the road and the Eden Centre car park is a few minutes walk away.
Food and drink is available in the main restaurant. Check out their menu on their website.
We were very kindly invited to review the escape room at The Works High Wycombe by Roger and the team. They were not involved in writing the review and it was not shown to them prior to publication. All views are my own (and Hubby’s).
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook