By Kayla Caldwell
Confession: I have never done an escape room before. In the same way I viewed haunted houses as a child, I am fascinated by them - say, enough to ask a lot of questions when someone I know has done one. But not quite enough to venture into one myself… that is until CK sent me to check out The Séance by Cross Roads Escape Games in Anaheim, California.
So at 11 pm, full of adrenaline and - to be honest - a little bit sleepy, I, a millennial in the year of 2019, allowed my phone to be taken away from me and stashed in a locker, and ventured upstairs to the mystical and magical lair of Madam Ruby.
The room was beautifully decorated, conjuring up images of Sarah’s [fake] bedroom at the trash dump in “Labyrinth.” It’s just an ordinary door from the outside, but walk through and the space has been dressed to create an entire world of magic, mysticism, and a perhaps, even a portal to the ~ other side ~.
It’s pretty casual at first, with Madam Ruby giving everyone a short reading based on the seat they had chosen at the table. See, each one was labeled with a rune used in witchcraft, whose secret meaning was revealed, one by one.
But then things got a bit more advanced, as we placed our hands on the table - pinky to pinky - and did a protection spell before attempting to lift the veil to the spirit world.
Fun sound and technical effects, as well as the assistance of EVP devices, make the exercise all the more realistic and immersive. Of course, that’s when things take a turn. See, Madam Ruby is harboring a big secret that affects everyone who dared to enter her mystical lair.
In an effort to avoid spoiling the twist, I will just say that Séance involves a bit more action than merely sitting at the table. Guests will be tasked with searching the magical room for keys to fuel a powerful spell, asked to cross the path between the living and the dead, and even challenged to fight a malevolent force.
Geovanna Flores was fantastic as the mystic Madame Ruby. From her costume to the passion behind her words, I truly felt ready for a supernatural experience - and I mean, we were visiting at the witching hour, after all.
As a newbie myself, Séance felt like the perfect melding of an escape room and immersive theater. It was more theatrical, I imagine than your typical escape room, but it also forced guests to put their thinking caps on, lest the show comes to a screeching halt.
This show is not necessarily catered to the wallflowers or the horror averse, who’d like to keep quiet off to the side, but it does allow guests a choice as to how involved they’d like to be. It being my first rodeo, so to speak, I took a slightly less active and more observant role as my colleague Roxy led the way as our proxy through the spiritual realm.
Afterward, we got to speak with Madison Rhoades, the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Cross Roads Escape Games, who explained the desire to merge escape room and immersive theater with Séance. She finds shows like Séance to be the perfect way for those hesitant of either immersive theater OR escape rooms to wade into the water at their own pace. And, hey, it worked for me!
Séance definitely opened my eyes to the potential fun of escape rooms, and with other games such as “The Hex Room,” which asks, “Can you survive a horror film?” I’m certainly considering finally taking on the challenge. By the end of the night, we were already talking about making plans to come back and try out a full-fledged escape room together.
And as a testament to the intrigue of Séance, once our phones were returned I didn’t even check for missed connections until after strapping myself into my car to drive home. We all lingered in the waiting room, discussing our favorite moments and the best effects.
Séance runs from now until November 3rd, so you, too, can see if you have the guys to journey beyond the veil.