Casa Loma Escape Series by Secret City Adventures – The Dragon’s Song [Review]

A Song of Puzzle & Dragons

Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada

Date Played: May 1, 2022

Team Size: 6-12; we recommend 6

Duration: 60 minutes, plus a 15-minute intro and 15-minute outro

Price: Wed/Thurs/Sun: $42 CAD per player; Fri/Sat: $50 CAD per player

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration:  Several narrow, spiral staircases were part of gameplay; players must also climb stairs to get to the game

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Dragon’s Song took our team to new heights in a highly immersive, larger-than-life setting accompanied by a simple yet satisfying plot line. Held in the Scottish Tower of historic Casa Loma, this escape room is a must-play experience for history buffs, scenery snobs, and fans of immersive entertainment. The splendor was counterbalanced by some moments where the The Dragon’s Song leaned into its more mundane and repetitive elements rather than further amplifying its unique and spectacular assets, including some puzzles that stalled gameplay momentum. Despite these points, this escape room ultimately offers an experience you can’t get anywhere else, with something for both seasoned and newer players.

Closeup of a massive dragon's head.
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Casa Loma Escape Series by Secret City Adventures – Station M [Review]

The signal at the end of the tunnel

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Date Played: May 1, 2022

Team Size: up to 12; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: Thursday and Sunday $42 CAD per player; Friday and Saturday $50 CAD per player

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: A long walk to access the game includes stairs and a sloped floor.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraint

REA Reaction

Station M delved into the real past of Casa Loma once again, albeit in a less true-to-history fashion than in Escape from the Tower. Players journey through the underbelly of the castle before stepping foot in the game space, possibly dodging caterers and partygoers – and that might have been the most mimetic opening to a spy story I have ever played.

The spy vibe was present throughout the entire game; it’s baked into the set, the props, and the story. There was a heavy reliance on searching, specifically trying to find many parts of multiple puzzles. It didn’t feel entirely onerous, but it nearly did. We were one item short of finishing the mission for what felt like a very long time, but when that final piece came together the conclusion was satisfying. If you’re in Toronto and have a thing for old tunnels and spies, you should stop by and play.

Closeup of an old microphone labeled, "M," beyond is a computer display.
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Casa Loma – Escape from the Tower [Review]

A four-story escape room in the tower of an actual castle.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Date played: April 30, 2016

Team size: 12; we recommend 8-10

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 36.00 CAD + HST per Ticket or 42.00 CAD + HST per Prime Time Ticket

Setting & story

Casa Loma is a historical Toronto landmark. This escape game was built into both the physical building and its history.

Escape from the Tower took place in the castle’s tower, up a few flights of stairs from the building’s entrance. The tower itself was a four-level set, ascended by spiral staircase as the game progressed.

This setting was unique and incredible; you can’t build a set like this.

Image of the Casa Loma castle in downtown Toronto. It's a beautiful gray stone castle with a magestic tower.
Seriously… it’s a real castle.

We were characters working for the Allied forces during World War II. Our team needed to find the coordinates of enemy U-boats, transmit these coordinates to allied forces, and escape before the tower was bombed.

The story was derived from the history of Casa Loma and designed around the existing building. Actors facilitated the game and enhanced the immersive experience. We were the heroes in our hour-long story.

Puzzles

Escape from the Tower unfolded in stages. On each floor, we completed multiple puzzles that collectively unlocked the next floor.

While Casa Loma packed a variety of puzzles into this game, each set of simultaneous puzzles required similar skills. This forced all players to tackle different types of thinking instead of gravitating toward their own strengths.

That said, the puzzles were both fair and challenging.

Early in the escape room, the story unfolded through the puzzles. As the game progressed, the relationship between story and puzzles became more abstract.

Standouts

This room escape used its space magnificently.

It also incorporated local history into a captivating and dramatic story.

Escape from the Tower came to life because we were the characters in a thrilling adventure that had to take place in this tower. And the tower was awesome.

Shortcomings

Half of our team showed up drunk. When asked to create a team name, David suggested “Tequila,” because our teammates stumbled into the lobby bragging about how much they had imbibed. They, of course, loved the name.

Our hammered teammates severely diminished our experience.

In Casa Loma’s games, players book individual tickets. If you want to play with your friends, you need to book all 12 tickets in the time slot, and book them far in advance. We don’t always have this luxury when we travel. Unfortunately, our schedule worked out such that we had two tickets for a Saturday evening with whomever else booked the same time slot.

With regard to drunk players, the Casa Loma website says “… you may be grouped with other players, so it’s important that you’re cooperative. Please note if you arrive intoxicated, our staff has the right of refusal, and no refunds will be given.”

The staff has the right to refuse drunk players, but they don’t do it.

Saturday tickets cost $42 each.

Is this escape room worth the steep price tag? Not if your teammates show up drunk.

Should I play Casa Loma’s Escape from the Tower?

Escape from the Tower is a cohesive game, brilliantly staged, and seeped in local history. Toronto is a saturated escape room market. This game stands apart as a must play.

Book out the whole room well in advance, and bring people you trust. We wish we had the opportunity to give Escape from the Tower a play-through with sober people.

Note that due to the nature of castle, this game is not handicapped accessible. Also, players will climb a few flights of stairs and should wear appropriate shoes.

Book your daytime ticket to Casa Loma’s Escape from the Tower, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Image via Wikipedia