13th Hour Escape Rooms – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [Review]

Follow the yellow brick road!

Location:  Wharton, NJ

Date Played: November 30, 2022

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $38 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration:  There are a few steps within the game. Talk to your gamemaster if set movement is a concern.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

With The Wizard of Oz, 13th Hour Escape Rooms has proven that they are not a one trick pony. This escape room departed from their overarching world of The Hayden Farm (where actors playing the murderous family members sometimes roam the escape rooms) and their commitment to the playful, creepy style they’ve become known for.

With the Wizard of Oz as inspiration, 13th Hour Escape Rooms built their own Kansas and Oz. From the characters, to the sets, to the iconic story beats, they brought it all to life. Fans, take note: you don’t want to miss this.

The escape room included the type on transition that few companies can pull off. Even though we knew where this house would land, the reveal was as magical as when it happened in the movie.

From an aesthetic and adventure standpoint, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was easily a regional standout. We encountered some inconsistent cluing, and there was room for improved gating. However, overall, 13th Hour Escape Rooms adapted their signature style of layered puzzles, lists, and pattern recognition to Oz, and it flowed pretty smoothly.

A black & white front porch of an old farmhouse.

One of the things that truly excites me about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is that it isn’t just a fantastic game that I’d recommend to escape room fans, but it’s also the kind of game that I could recommend to just about anyone.

If you’re never visited 13th Hour Escape Rooms because the murderous Hayden family doesn’t appeal to you, it’s time to make the trip to Wharton, NJ.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Fans of The Wizard of Oz
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • To go on a classic Wizard of Oz adventure
  • The magical reveal of Oz
  • Fun layered puzzles

Story

We followed the steps of Dorothy in a classic Wizard of Oz adventure, meeting iconic sets and characters along the way.

Setting

Our adventure began outside Aunt Em’s house in Kansas, surrounded by her picket fence and wooden front porch. The set was dim, but detailed and well constructed.

A black & white set featuring a cart selling jam, surrounded by a fence and farming tools.

Gameplay

13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and solving puzzles.

A black & white set of an old kitchen in a farmhouse.

Analysis

➕ 13th Hour Escape Rooms nailed the iconic scenes from the story. From the sets to the characters, we followed in the steps of Dorothy. Of note, outside knowledge will help you appreciate each scene, but won’t help you solve any puzzles.

➕ The set design was top notch. It was aesthetically inspired by the story… and just like in the story, this brightened the reveal of Oz.

➖ We stumbled upon one puzzle that quickly started to drive us mad. It took us a while to connect the feedback to the set, perhaps in part because it lacked the visual appeal inherent in other puzzles. This was an unnecessary low point in a generally fantastic experience.

➕ The transition sequence in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was magical. Few creators attempt this type of illusion. 13th Hour Escape Rooms used effects and story to distract us while they worked this magic.

➖ In one instance, the instructions seemed to contradict the gameplay. We didn’t know if we should, or could, interact yet.

➕ The gameplay flowed well. As is their style, the layered puzzles relied on lists and groups of like things, noticing patterns, and communicating well with teammates.

➖ The final act would have benefited from stronger search cluing and added gating for one prop. In this sequence, the gameplay was a little bumpier then it needed to be.

➕ We especially enjoyed a late-game transition involving an oversized, haptically satisfying keypad and – surprisingly – a card reader that stamped an iconic moment.

➖/➕ Narratively, we wanted the characters to interact with the MacGuffins. That said, their placement worked well within the escape room to set up our journey back to Kansas.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • This game is not set within the world of the Hayden Family Farm. There are no actors, even during weekends in October when actors roam the other games at 13th Hour Escape Rooms.

Book your hour with 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 13th Hour Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

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