Today, we give a taste of the Saw Escape Room in Las Vegas from one of our most loyal TPU readers. Al D’Alfonso recently took a trip to Las Vegas and got to experience this one-of-a-kind escape room just off the Vegas strip. Is it an escape room? Immersive theater? Ultra-themed experience? I’ll let Al explain. Enjoy! – Josh Y – TPU Editor-in-Chief
Today my adventure takes me far from the controlled element of our friendly neighborhood theme park and to the big city…Sin City…Vegas. You will not be surprised that my time was not spent gambling and drinking my way up and down the strip but exploring attractions and entertainment wherever I could find it. Some were pleasant diversions, some were chores, some were completely unmemorable and one special one dug deep in my story-loving heart and “carved out” a nitch in it. Our adventure took us to the newly opened Saw Escape Room three months after it opened. This is a wonderful time to visit a new attraction as they have had time to get all the kinks out and corrected things that worked in theory, but not with guests in the attraction. Also, the staff have not become bored with their jobs and are still having fun and are still benefiting from their opening day training.
I have reflected long and hard on the matter of spoilers for this adventure. Do I risk ruining it for you, my friends, to give you an accurate portrayal of it? Or do I just say I enjoyed it without too many details? I have decided to do a bit of both. I will talk about the story, set, actors, and general atmosphere while avoiding specifics about solving puzzles. Yes, this will be spoilerish but my thought is that this was so good that I could have done it again the following day after experiencing it BECAUSE of the story, sets, etc. I hope you will trust me to continue reading…
There have been some mixed reviews on this experience, more so at the beginning, that I think I can address. This IS NOT an escape room in any traditional sense of the word. Once you get past that you can appreciate it for what it is. Some might say its false advertising to call it an escape room but I would imagine “The Saw Immersive, Walk-Thru, Maze, Puzzle Game, Experience” might be too tricky to market and “Saw Escape Room” provides an easy to understand category to place it in for marketing purposes. If you go in without any pre-conceived notions on what an escape room should be you will be fine. If you are an escape room purist, stay away.
The experience begins by pre-purchasing a time online. There are no tickets at the door. As a matter of fact, there is no “Saw Escape Room” at the location at all. When you arrive at the address a few blocks off the strip near the Circus Circus Adventuredome area you see no signage at all that mentions the attraction. There is a gate protecting a mid-sized warehouse with a security guard in front. On one side of the gate is a BBQ restaurant and the other side a butcher shop. It was at this moment I was hooked. I (the LONER) checked in with security guard Shady and awaited the rest of the players. First up was a father and adult son (the SUPER FANS) who were fans of the series. Next arrived two girls (the SCREAMERS) who provided a great interaction with Officer Shady. They came up looking for the Saw Escape Room. Shady said that he didn’t know anything about that but had a list of people that were going to go on the next Egan & Company warehouse tour. He did not even hint at breaking character the entire time while we waited for another couple (the CUTE COUPLE). He led us into a room where we could secure our bags. It was a set of small square lockers that easily fit purses, bags and small backpacks. The each had padlocks that you took the key out once locked. No hi-tech theme park fingerprint lockers but I felt that my belongings were safe. He did not force people to leave their phones but stressed that if anyone even took out their phone to check the time, they would be asked to leave the tour. Apparently, there is a lot of competition in the meat business so they had to take precautions.
He escorted us to the reception area and we were greeted by a perky office representative (think Kimberly Duncan from Universals T2 attraction) that welcomed us and had us sign disclaimers, during which the last two members of our group arrived the DRUNK COUPLE. Our group was shaping up rather nicely. Back to that subtle difference again…if we were going to do an escape room then having people you don’t know with various levels of skill, knowledge about the franchise, and soberness would be a disadvantage. As an EXPERIENCE, however, it worked perfectly as it felt like a group right out of central casting getting thrust into Jigsaw’s world and forced to work to escape his traps. We were allowed to take pictures for the last time in this room with the warning that they could not come out on the tour. The theming here was completely immersive, including an old black and white film welcoming us to Egan & Co’s warehouse tour. For me, it was like being placed in a Halloween Horror Nights house and allowed to study every detail without being rushed past them. Our host then gave half of the group flashlights and half pads of paper and pencils. She warned us that the electricity is a little weird and sometimes the lights go out but not to worry they will come back on, also sometimes the flashlights don’t work too. She cautioned that when we go from one room to another to be sure the whole group goes thru together because “the doors sometimes stick” and that we should listen to any instructions we get and take notes if necessary because they will not repeat themselves.
She let us into the warehouse and told us to keep moving on our tour until we get to the guard station to check in and telling us if the guard wasn’t there to continue into the next room. We went thru an incredibly detailed hallway and breakroom, then down another hallway and offices until we got to the guard station. As you might have suspected the guard was not there and we entered the room. The room was HUGE, about 4 times the size of an average escape room. There were huge pig bodies on a conveyer belt to our right some butcher equipment ahead and a walk-in freezer to our left. Before we could take in the amazing details in the room we heard the door latch behind us and an all too familiar disembodied voice speak. About traveling, about enjoying ourselves, about making poor choices when away from home, about thinking only of ourselves, that we needed to work as a team followed by a cryptic clue. Then on the other end of the room, we saw the countdown clock had started. Because the attraction moves groups thru it every 20 minutes you progress from room to room even if you don’t “escape”. There are consequences for failure and the gameplay changes but it will be frustrating if you think of this as an escape room. In the first challenge, our group was disorganized and disoriented but started to work on the four tasks in this room. I went in the freezer with another player and my flashlight lit up (we later found that flashlight sometimes lit up with a blacklight beam and a red beam in addition to the normal white one). While gingerly approaching a frozen body hanging there a woman popped out screaming at us in sheer panic. We met Baily, another of Jigsaw’s victims that was still trying to get out. She became part of our team and was the mechanism to give clues and hints to solve the puzzles. A wonderful technique that really personalizes the experience for each group.
She traveled thru a few rooms with us until…. well maybe some surprises should be left surprises.
The entire experience was around 10 rooms and contained some traps that will be familiar to fans of the series. Although we signed a disclaimer we knew that we were not really in danger. Well, intellectually I knew that I wasn’t in danger when I was one of six that had to insert my hand in an opening that I knew had cut people horribly bad when they didn’t work as a team, or when I talked one of our group to crawl into an incinerator to get a key. I knew…but it still worked on a deep primal level. By the time we walked into the only possible room that you could end this adventure on, THE bathroom, we were no longer playing a game but were part of the story…we had become a team, we thought with one mind, we were in the bathroom trying to escape with our lives before it was GAME OVER… the loner wasn’t alone, the screamers didn’t scream, the drunks were stone sober and the fanboys stopped looking at details and started fighting for their lives.
As we went out in the cool midnight air after, it was like we truly had escaped and I couldn’t help but hear in my head.
“Most people are so ungrateful to be alive, but not you, not anymore…”
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