Trap Door Escape – We’re All Mad Here [Review]

Alice in Asylumland

Location:  Bartonsville, PA

Date Played: January 29, 2022

Team size: minimum of 4; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: $60 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: All players need to climb up a ladder, climb over a high barrier, and crawl to fully experience the game. However, as long as at least one player can do these things, other players could opt to skip this segment.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

There’s no way to make this medicine go down easier:

2 hours of game spread out over 4,000 square feet was a lot for an escape room. It felt like a lot as a player… and it seemed like it was too much for Trap Door Escape.

This game didn’t need to be 2 hours long. The space felt empty and shoddily constructed. The game felt dreary and slow… and the moments that were brilliant overstayed their welcome way past the point of fun.

A bed with a large caterpillar smoking a hookah.

Trap Door Escape was playing with some interesting ideas in We’re All Mad Here, but for whatever reason (time?, budget?, materials?, skillset?), this game felt tragically thin.

Selling the idea that an experience is massive and epic means that it needs to deliver; scale is a burden.

I wished that we liked this game. We wanted to enjoy it, but in the end… we weren’t mad, we were disappointed.

Instead of We’re All Mad Here, I’d strongly urge you to consider playing Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Trap Door Escape really hit their stride in that game.

Who is this for?

  • Alice in Wonderland fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • It’s big and long
  • There are some interesting performative bits
  • The cool segments

Story

As patients of the Red Heart Mental Institution, we explored this Alice in Wonderland-inspired world, digging deeper down the rabbit hole of this curious hospital.

A white much with the words "Red Heart Mental Institution" on a red table.
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Trap Door Escape – F5: A Tornado Escape [Review]

Winds of Change

Location:  Bartonsville, PA

Date Played: January 29, 2022

Team size: 2-12; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39.99 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: one person needs to climb over a high barrier and crouch in a small space

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

I was a big fan of the original F5 game from Trap Door. I loved the way that it blended physicality with escape games and a unique setting. It played in a space that we have rarely seen escape room designers explore.

The new F5: A Tornado Escape was a completely different game. It maintained the unique cornfield setting, the ever-present wind of fans, and the projected tornado… but it swapped out the physicality for more traditional escape room puzzle play. The end result was a game that was considerably more accessible. Plus the new version had far better puzzle design than the original.

A corn field at night.

F5: A Tornado Escape stumbled in some of the details. There were some puzzles that felt noticeably altered, missing, or under-clued. This was particularly rough in the early game, where a few decisions made it difficult to build trust in the design. The good news was that the deeper we pushed in the game, the more it recovered.

If, like me, you’re a fan of the original F5, there was a really interesting callback with a bit of physicality, but this was a fundamentally different experience and one that I probably enjoyed more than the original, even if I missed some of the obstacle course interactivity. I’m sure plenty will be happy that the physical challenges were blown away.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Tornado chasers
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • The setting was unique and remains novel (even though Trap Door Escape did it before)
  • It’s a completely different and improved game from the original
  • The finale was neat

Story

A terrifying storm was coming and bringing a massive tornado with it. Could we make it to the barn and save ourselves before the tornado took us?

A corn field with a tornado off in the distance.
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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.
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Eastern Pennsylvania (Outside of Philadelphia): Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: January 1, 2022

Home to the likes of Crayola, Hershey, and Utz, the region of Eastern Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia โ€” including the Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton) and Reading โ€” also has some stellar escape room companies.

The top experiences in this region balance quality puzzle design, modestly-sized immersive sets, and a rapidly rising level of tech.

This guide features our favorite rooms in the region, broken out by category.

If you’re in the area, also check out our guide to Philadelphia.

Image: A roadway with a welcome to Pennsylvania sign. Text: Eastern Pennsylvania Escape Room Guide

Market Standouts

  1. Galactic War – Encrypted Escape Room West Reading
  2. The Haunted Theater, Captured LV Bethlehem
  3. The Last Vampire – Encrypted Escape Room West Reading
  4. The Soul Collector – Captured LV Allentown
  5. Site 117 – escape.exe
  6. The Island – Captured LV Allentown

Set & Scenery Driven

Puzzle-Centric

Tech-Heavy

Newbie-Friendly

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: December 5, 2021

For years folks had been telling us to visit Pittsburgh… at almost 6 hours (by car) from home, it was always either too far or too close. When we were looking for our first escape room destination post-vaccination, it suddenly seemed like just the right distance.

The best escape rooms in Pittsburgh all balanced quality set design with puzzle-focused gameplay.

You won’t be disappointed if you decide to visit escape rooms in Pittsburgh.

Image: Overview of Pittsburgh from atop the cliff. Text: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Escape Room Guide

Market Standouts

  1. The Inventorโ€™s Paradox, Enter the Imaginarium
  2. The Chamber of Illusions, Enter the Imaginarium
  3. The Search for Leviathan, Enter the Imaginarium
  4. The Study, Puzzle Room Pittsburgh
  5. Seeking Sasquatch, Puzzle Room Pittsburgh
  6. Tomb Explorer, Escape Room Pittsburgh

Newbie-Friendly