Earn the urn.
Location: Wharton, NJ
Date Played: October 28, 2018
Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-7
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $29 per player
The “grand” in Grand Parlor was not an overstatement.
13th Hour Escape Rooms delivered a creepy interactive adventure, for a larger team, on a large scale.
The Grand Parlor felt epic and delightful.
While not every puzzle made sense in the experience, or was on the same level, the vast majority of the gameplay elevated the impressive gamespace… and the majority of our critique is about details that wouldn’t even get mentioned in our reviews of more average games.
We visited 13th Hour in October to experience the effect of actors on The Grand Parlor. We loved this augmentation, but your mileage will vary depending on your gameplay preferences (see below for a full explanation of the actors and how to get or avoid them).
If you are anywhere near northwestern New Jersey, and can enjoy an eerie and sinister vibe, we highly recommend an excursion to 13th Hour Escape Rooms. We’ve loved many of their escape rooms and The Grand Parlor was no exception. It rivaled The Great Room.
Who is this for?
- Fans of the creepy
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Best for players with at least some experience
- Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
- Expansive and immersive set
- Large-scale interactive puzzles
- Epic and joyous moments
The ashes of Bishop, a notorious killer and beloved member of the Hayden family, had gone missing. If we could help the Haydens find Bishop’s urn, then they would let us leave their parlor unharmed.
The Grand Parlor was set in the most spacious area of the creepy Hayden family farmhouse. From the dark and foreboding entryway, it opened up into a massive space with height, depth, and hiding places. The props ranged from parlor staples to farmhouse essentials.
13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Grand Parlor was a standard escape room with a higher level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, exploration, making connections, puzzling, and communicating.
While the puzzles were not especially difficult on their own, the large gamespace and large-team dynamic raised the level of difficulty of the overall experience.
Actors in October
13th Hour runs a haunted house in additional to their 5 escape rooms. On October evenings and weekends when the haunted house is operating (sometimes including Christmas & Valentines Day), the escape rooms have an added twist: actors. The 6 actors roam the 5 escape rooms providing character, hints, and the occasional jump scare. They are also the gamemasters.
The set, story, puzzles, and gameplay do not change for October. The escape rooms are open year round.
We visited The Grand Parlor during October to experience the actors in the escape room. Our other reviews of other 13th Hour games do not include this discussion because we did not visit those games when the actors were in rotation.
➕ The actors were impressive. They added character to the experience. They surprised us at well-timed moments. They were a ton of fun. If you’re looking for feels and immersion over focused puzzles, I highly recommend playing these escape rooms with the actors.
➖ At times, the actors were heavy-handed. They were the hint system as well as added character for the space. If you want focused puzzle-play, don’t visit in October. You’ll be frustrated by the interruptions. You’ll also have less control over the hinting.
A visit to 13th Hour in October is an individual decision. The actors don’t make the escape rooms better or worse. They make them different. We loved the creepy, playful horde roaming Hayden’s farm. They improvise and have fun with you. It’s also perfectly reasonable to have zero interest in that added layer.
➕ The set was impressive. It was detailed and designed. The vertical scale and the decor were captivating. It was an incredible environment to explore and puzzle through.
➕ The gamespace opened up over the course of play with exciting, grand reveals as well as more surprising, quiet opens.
➖ It was easy to miss the best moments if they triggered while we were elsewhere in the gamespace, working on something different. The Grand Parlor would have benefited from gameflow that guided all players into position to witness the most exciting moments.
➕ The Grand Parlor was creepy, playful, and joyous. Note for the timid: it was creepy, but not scary.
➕ 13th Hour Escape Rooms produced layered, but approachable puzzles. We had to connect elements across the large gamespace, which forced communication and teamwork. This structure worked really well.
➖ The gamespace echoed a lot. With a large team of players – and the actors as well – the space was full of commotion. Communication became frustrating.
➕ 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ entire facility is themed. Their lobby and hallways look more aesthetically impressive than most escape rooms.
➕ For one simple puzzle, 13th Hour designed an original take on a common escape room trope. It was phenomenal.
➖ We spent a lot of time trying to solve one puzzle before we had all the information. We would have appreciated additional gating here, especially because the eventual solution didn’t feel like adequate payoff for the wasted time.
➖ A few interactions seemed to belong in a different game. One in particular didn’t make sense – conceptually or aesthetically – in the Hayden family’s parlor.
➕ One standard parlor prop surprised us with an impromptu, silly, and playful interlude. It was delightful.
➕ The large-scale interactions supported the grandeur of the set. These contributed to nifty and satisfying puzzle solves that felt great in the gamespace.
Tips For Visiting
- There is parking available.
- We recommend Hot Rods BBQ.
- Most of the team needs to be able to climb stairs. While it is possible for a player or two to play The Grand Parlor without climbing any stairs, if you play this way, you’ll miss significant components of the game.
Book your hour with 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Grand Parlor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: 13th Hour Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.
A special thanks to the Hayden Family for allowing David to photograph them and live.