Trap Door Escape – Mad Hatter’s Tea Party [Review]

A boozy tea party

Location:  Bartonsville, PA

Date Played: January 29, 2022

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $45 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players must be 21+ to consume the “tea”

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock [A]

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party felt like a significant deviation from the norm for Trap Door Escape… and I can comfortably state that this was the strongest production that we’ve seen over their many years of operation.

Instead of Trap Door Escape’s typically massive multi-room escape games, we stepped into a single-room experience centered on an actor portraying the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland fame. The portrayal of the Hatter was strong and had a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) depth to it.

The Mad Hatter in a straightjacket sitting at the head of a table. sculpture made from teacups sits in front of him.

From a game design standpoint, we were impressed by the way that Trap Door Escape made use of riddles. Riddles in escape rooms are usually terrible. They’re either too obvious or too opaque… and they rarely feel in the spirit of escape games. Riddles narratively made sense in a game centered around the Mad Hatter, and Trap Door dreamt up a method for making these feel fun, relevant, and fair. Respect.

Where Mad Hatter’s Tea Party could benefit from iteration would be in a few of the more ambiguously clued puzzles, some lighting choices, and one very sticky set of props in need of a cleaning (and possibly a rebuild).

We’re truly happy that we played the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party… and that’s not just because Trap Door Escape opened a distillery… which was evident in their selection of “tea” for this experience. If you’re in Eastern Pennsylvania, this is one of the strongest escape games available.

Who is this for?

  • Alice in Wonderland fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Actor interacters
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Strong actor performances
  • An intimate game with some clever puzzle design
  • Boozy “tea”

Story

Set in the same world as Trap Door’s other Alice in Wonderland game We’re All Mad Here, we were patients at the Red Heart Mental Institution. We entered a “group therapy” session with one of the Institution’s more well-behaved patients. In the session, we had to make sense of his madness and of course, indulge in the beverage of his choosing.

A table with a sculpture made from teacups, a tall cake, a sculpture made from spoons, and a few tea pots.

Setting

In stark contrast to other games from Trap Door, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was set in a single room, and that room wasn’t especially large.

The walls had animations projected against them. Assorted props dotted the perimeter. The focus was on the performer and the table, which was appropriately the most interesting portion of the set.

A rock on the floor with a tree off in the distance.

Gameplay

Trap Door Escape’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was an atypical escape room. It involved actors, boozy “tea,” and puzzles. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, solving puzzles, interacting with the actors… and drinking “tea,” of course.

Analysis

βž• Trap Door solved the riddle of riddles. If there was ever an escape room in which to place riddles, this was the one. They were thematic. Moreover, they were fair. These riddles provided exceptional aha moments… which we experienced sometimes as a team, and other times individually.

βž• The gameplay flowed well and the puzzles generally solved cleanly.

βž– We did not enjoy one sticky situation. Literally. This puzzle needed a cleanup. We were also stuck more figuratively by colors in low lighting.

βž– One puzzle felt entirely too ambiguous. (On the plus side, with an in-game actor as a hint system, loose cluing can be taped together on the fly.)

βž• The actors were phenomenal. They brought great energy (or, lack thereof, as the case may be) and it elevated the game. They added a layer of discovery. They also read the room brilliantly to provide just enough hinting without ever overstepping.

βž• Trap Door danced through one cliched escape room trope with creative and wonderfully thematic cluing.

βž•/βž–Β With a small set and thematic, projected decor, plus an in-game actor, the space felt vibrant. This worked well for the theme. That said, with full projection and the lighting to support it color was problematic, and walking across projections irked some of our teammates.

βž• It’s a tea party! The boozy “tea”was fantastic.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • We highly recommend Pho Saigon II for a meal before or after your game. They are located in the same plaza.

Book your hour with Trap Door Escape’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trap Door Escape comped our tickets for this game.

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