North Valley Escape Room – Big Top Circus [Review]

💪🤡🔮

Location: Anthem, AZ

Date Played: March 10, 2022

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $24.95 per player (or $89 total for teams of 1-3 players)

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Slight steps and narrow walkways

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Popcorn. The very first thing that hit me as we walked through the door was the inviting smell of this delightful treat pulling me into the space. This attention to detail was a telling indication of mysteries to follow, as we found ourselves being drawn further and further into an enchanting circus with each puzzle solved. Fortunately for us, no actual tightrope walking or fire breathing was required during our adventures.

The initial big top set the stage for what was to come, providing an authentic exploration experience and satisfyingly tangible props to interact with along the way. We particularly enjoyed one interaction in the first half that pulled our entire team into an energetic carnival atmosphere, rewarding an intriguing mix of skill and approachable math to advance.

Wide angle view of the inside of a red and white circus tent. A popcorn machine sits beside a stage with props for a magic act.

Of all of the dynamic and intriguing interactions that we encountered under the big top, the one that was by far the most frustrating was the very first. This experience would have benefited from gentle onboarding at the start to point our circus-heroes in the right direction and avoid an introductory dip in enthusiasm.

North Valley Escape Room’s Big Top Circus is definitely worth checking out if you are in the greater Phoenix region, optimally with a group of friends (who aren’t afraid of clowns) ready to punch their ticket to the greatest show on earth!

Who is this for?

  • Circus enthusiasts
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs

Why play?

  • Thematic puzzles working within circus subject matter
  • Novel interactions with the space

Story

The show must go on! We were on the hunt for Frederick the Great’s magic wand that had somehow been misplaced. We couldn’t have a circus without a magic show, after all.

A ticket booth in a carnival, the sign reads, "5 cents."

Setting

We delightedly scouted the main stage, backstage, and sideshow areas of the circus on our quest to find the magic wand. The structure of the space delivered an on-point circus vibe with vigor, and even threw in a few surprises that connected the set in novel ways.

The ceiling of a a big top tenet made from red and white fabric.

Gameplay

North Valley Escape Room’s Big Top Circus was a standard escape room with a high volume of content; the difficulty is derived from the sheer number of puzzles to navigate.

Core gameplay revolved around tasks, puzzling, and making connections.

A vending machine with a animatronic clown on a swing. The machine is labeled, "Ziggy the Clown."

Analysis

➕ The attention to detail was evident, with everything from minor construction points (such as lining the floor with rope) to an embedded, in-theme hint system.

➕ Exploration-related surprises elicited smiles on several occasions as we progressed through the space.

➖ One of our experiences triggered early, resulting in moderate confusion and some wasted effort.

➕ The theme was just a delight to work within; puzzles and larger-than-life props built on each other to create a world of disbelief and wonder.

➖ A puzzle based on your senses had very similar inputs, proving it difficult to solve without a fair amount of guesswork.

❓ A fascinating interaction with a different point of view was exceptionally rewarding to solve but difficult to navigate.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with North Valley Escape Room’s Big Top Circus, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: North Valley Escape Room provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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