How one family hosted the escape room party of the decade!
Matt and Sharina Adams, along with their five kids, turned their entire house into an ancient egyptian tomb! In this interview they talk us through their EPIC escape room party.
I challenge you to watch this video walkthrough of their setup and NOT be totally blown away:
Q1: Why did you decide to throw this event?
Our kids grew out of the preschool Halloween party games, so we started searching for a new and super fun way to celebrate the season. Five years ago I came across a virtual escape game on the computer and my mind started working to figure out how to make that a 3D experience. This is our fifth year making our home into an escape house and The Lost Mummy game was the perfect jump start to our inspiration this year.
Q2: You said your kids helped run the game, how did they feel sitting and watching others go through this awesome experience?
My kids were the first ones to go through the escape game that had slowly been taking over our house during the month; they were anxious to figure things out and they loved it! Since they knew how everything worked, we were so grateful for their help in giving clues and resetting the rooms as quickly as possible before the next group entered.
Our younger two enjoyed playing with their friends as they were waiting for their turn in the Oasis. Our older three helped in the rooms. It was a great experience for them to learn when to give clues and when to wait and let them figure it out on their own. Kind of like parenting - lol.
This is what my kids said about the experience with huge grins on their faces and lots of excitement,
“It was so much fun to watch their faces in total confusion and give simple clues when they got stuck. Watching their faces when things clicked was the best part. We loved helping out!”
Q3: How did people react to your game? What are some of the most memorable moments that came out of it?
Our friends had been watching my FB and IG posts with curiosity and anticipation throughout the month.
We loved their reactions when they first entered the game and saw the “vines” hanging down the hall and all the props and murals.
Another favorite moment was when the “fake snake” started spitting smoke
All of our guests jumped away and many screamed! It was hilarious!
It was fascinating to see how some groups worked together and others did not. You could spot the leaders pretty quickly and those who were just along for the ride. It was great to get two leaders in a group and see how they delegated responsibilities to each other. Families did a great job including their younger kids in the process, even though they didn’t understand the puzzles.
Q4: Was all the effort worth it? Would you do it again?
Absolutely! We’ve enjoyed doing this for five years and we are pretty sure you never grow out of it, since the adults love it just as much as the kids and teens! In fact, we have done this game three different ways so far. The first time, we used the “Lost Mummy” as it is. The second time, was our escape house. The third time, we took our house down and transferred it to the children’s theatre fundraiser where it got tons of attention and use as well.
Q5: How did you go about making these awesome 3D props/advice for people wanting to recreate your 3D props?
Pinterest is a great place to get great ideas...
... and lots of people have created youtube videos for various projects. For example, the canopic jars are Pringles containers and balloons. Once we paper mache over them you can pop the balloon inside and create a hole in the top to fit whatever you use for the lid. We glued a square of foam to the lid and carved it.
This year we experimented with foam quite a bit!
You can buy a sheet of 2” foam at your home improvement store. My husband cuts the shape out on the band saw (smooth cutting). Then we use a dry wall tool or file to shape it (Beware: it makes a HUGE mess). We learned that you have to cover foam with modge podge before you spray paint it or the paint eats the foam. We used A LOT of modge podge! We also used a hand held wood burning tool to carve details into the foam (don’t mess up you can’t erase your mistakes). Then more spray paint.
My husband is a carpenter...
... and he can make anything from wood. He engineered the fun lock boxes and created them from scrap wood bits. He got his ideas from watching wood puzzle box videos. That’s all I know, but he’s pretty amazing!
We also used boxes we had or found ...
... (like shoe and pizza boxes) and we spray painted them. Add some jewels or trim and things look great! The dollar store is a great place to get plastic spiders and stuff for a deal. You can also get streamers and shimmery stuff that is easy to set up and goes a long way in decorating. I used Photoshop to craft extra game pieces and laminate them.
Advice: start early!
It takes time to create props. Not only time to engineer them, but to wait for modge podge, paint, and paper mache to dry in between each layer. Start 2-4 projects at once and bounce between them, while waiting for things to dry. Have fun! Plan out weeks, not days for this big of an event.
Q6: How did you cope with having your house so cramped up with props?
Great question! After five years we are getting great at this! As I create I think about the set up and how we can make things work and still be able to live pretty normally.
Our secret is to use refrigerator boxes as walls!
They paint up really great and can be moved with very little effort. When you are done-you can toss them.
I’ve learned what NOT to block off (like the hallway to the living room) and even though it was blocked when the game was up, all we had to do was fold the box in half and lean it up against the wall so it wasn’t in the way. I also use yards of fabric to block off areas that still need to function with little disturbance. The props for each room fit into a bin. We left them in their rooms and the set up easy.
Q7: What’s it like to be the ‘party king’ in your community now? Unless someone threw a bigger party…… surely someone didn’t one-up you?......
We certainly know how to create an ‘experience,’ and everyone loves to come! They are fully drawn into the experience and love to get close up to the props. However, we aren’t the only party people in our community. Every summer we volunteer as the prop directors of our local Children’s Musical Theater. We put on some pretty epic shows/events. They are also great at putting on parties/events and we feed off each other’s ideas and borrow each other’s props. We support each other and it’s nice to attend a fun event you didn’t have to plan.
Q8: You mentioned this was inspired by the movie, ‘The Mummy’ - how well do you think you captured that ‘feel’?
For a cardboard box set and foam props - great! We put “the Mummy” soundtrack on during the event and the music added a great mysterious mood. It would have been fun to add crashing noises and such; maybe we’ll figure that out this year. We also tried to create things they would have had in the movie, like the scarab beetles, canopic jars, Egyptian murals, treasure, sarcophagus’s, and the ‘Book of the Dead.’
Q9: Were people ever frustrated at your puzzles? What did you do?
While waiting in the Oasis, we had “the Mummy” (with Brandon Fraser) playing and that kept people occupied. We also had a snack bar several of the nights, so they could just chat and eat also. It worked great! The teens didn’t want to leave (which we loved).
We could put a new group of 4-6 people in every 15 minutes, so they didn’t have to wait long to get in. We rigged the game to have 4 groups in the house at one time (yep that’s 16-24 people in the escape house all working on clues). Each room took 15 minutes to accomplish roughly. With a little trial and error, the kids and I knew which clues people needed the most to keep them moving along in their 15 minute time slots, so no one got frustrated.
Once a group moved to the next room, another group was entering the one they left (with a 30 second reset up time in each room). It was a smooth transition. We also had each group set a timer on their phone. The game was, “who can get through with the best time!” If they had to wait a minute or two for the previous group to clear a room, we just had them pause their timer. This way everyone got through the whole game in a timely manner, and no one had to wait for a long time.
Q10: What was your favourite puzzle to build?
... we loved the original ideas from lock paper scissors!
We used every part in some part of our house, just took them from paper to 3D and added a twist or an extra clue to get the pieces they needed for it.
My husband loved making his puzzle boxes (like ‘the Book of the Dead’) and creating the sarcophagus and snake.
I enjoyed making the canopic jars, the maze in the hall with scarab beetles, and painting everything.
Q11: Any advice for someone wanting to make their own immersive version of the Lost Mummy escape room in the future?
Do it! It’s super fun!
- Use an existing escape game to get ideas from or piggy back off of; it saves time and brain power (lock paper scissors has several that would be great).
- Plan in advance. Map what you’re doing out on paper, then plan out how you will accomplish each task and set aside time for it.
- Get your family involved. They don’t have to know how the puzzles work to help you modge podge, paint, or create; and they’ll learn a thing or two along the way.
- If you are going to put this big of event together, invite everyone you know to enjoy it. Or plan your kid’s birthday parties around it, so several kids can enjoy it. We did this for 4 weekends, including 2 birthday parties.
Any last comments?
We are so grateful for Lock Paper Scissors great idea and are honored to be featured here to inspire you! We hope you have a great time and try out some of these great suggestions.
Start off small and grow into it, you’ll learn things as you go.
How to buy and play the game with your own kids
If the Adams' story inspires you, maybe it’s time to start planning your own epic escape party! They started with The Lost Mummy game kit.
Whether you go all-out and craft an experience that rivals a Hollywood set, or throw a couple of game pieces down on the kitchen table, you'll be engaging your friends and family in a challenge that brings them together. And at the end of the day, it's the smiles on your loved ones' faces that truly matters!