Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Price: $29 per person
Players: 2-10 (We recommend 3-5)
Time to Escape: 60 Minutes
Want a balloon, sonny?
From the Escape-topia website:
What child doesn’t love a carnival with rides, cotton candy, games, balloons, and clowns?
Well…maybe not all clowns. You see, there’s a murderous clown on the loose in our carnival and his favorite victims are children.
The local authorities suspect Giggles the Clown but are having a hard time proving it because he only leaves his lair for an hour, maybe less.
They already lost 2 good men in their attempt to stop him, so they’ve asked for your assistance, as FBI profilers, to solve the crime before another child falls victim to this madman – if, in fact, he really is human.
Carnival Macabre was our final room of the day at Escape-topia, and I have to say, I was a little sad there weren’t more creepy escapes for us to puzzle through here, as we were having an amazing time! I have a soft spot for spooky carnivals, so I was excited that we had saved this particular favorite theme for last!
Escape-topia are masters of crafting an entertainingly creepy set design, and from lobby to room, this immersion remains unbroken throughout the experience. In terms of creep factor, I think this particular room takes the cake for me, especially during the latter half of the adventure. From a mysteriously large locked box we came across to a group of very… special… children, this room kept us on our toes from start to finish! The props within the room do a great job of world building and characterization, ensuring that the ever looming threat of Giggle’s return remained at the forefront of our minds. Adding in the spooky sound design that permeates the carnival, immersion remained high throughout. I also especially loved the subtle bits here and there that gave us further insight into Giggle’s alleged crime spree. I’m still not 100% sure he did the crimes he’s accused of however… I mean, look at him, he’s so darn friendly!
The art at Escape-topia is wildly creative… and terrifying!
The game flow is fantastic, with a few different paths and a wide variety of puzzle types available to keep larger groups entertained. Though we personally struggled a bit at the beginning, (due, I think, to us having a case of what we like to call, “the dumb,”) the difficulty curve seemed very smooth once we were able to get going. I especially enjoyed some of the more tactile interactions, and really loved a late game meta puzzle that brought together many of the mysterious items we’d collected during our quest! A few had multiple layers to them, though we had to sort through some subtly clever clues in order to discover them. This subtle cluing was produced some excellently satisfying moments of revelation, and I have to say, this room was definitely one of my favorites during our Fort Lauderdale trip, in terms of puzzles. Overall, this was an extremely well designed experience, and it was great fun to work through Giggle’s twisted games!
One particular interaction was really cool, but it was somewhat difficult to reach, and of the two of us, I was the only one who had the wingspan in order to complete the task. Had I been a little shorter, we might have run into some trouble, though I’m sure Mother’s attendants would’ve been happy to assist. One puzzle we came across needed some slightly tighter cluing in order to prevent a logical leap that was required to fully solve it. Finally, though we had no issues with it, I know some players are averse to math appearing within a room. The problems were not overly difficult, but be aware there is some should you dislike this sort of interaction.
Carnival Macabre is a fantastic experience, and one of the best creepy carnival themed rooms we’ve come across! I had an excellent time facing off with Giggles, and cannot wait to return to Escape-topia for future horror adventures. This room would be a great intro to escape rooms for new players, and still presented a good challenge for enthusiasts, so I highly recommend anyone in the area give it a shot. Book your time in the big top here! Give our regards to Mother!
Full disclosure: Escape-topia provided media discounted tickets for our group.