I’ve been to a lot of cool places and done some really memorable things, but very few actually stick for the long term. Sometimes people will say “remember when we —-?” and I won’t remember said event at all, or vaguely. It was probably fun at the time, but not the kind of fun that really wows you. A few stick out – a St. Patrick’s Day party at an Irish Pub, a friend’s birthday at Yuk Yuk’s, a work party at some duelling pianos bar in Gastown, dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, jet skiing on the Fraser, kayaking on Bowen, etc.
But today I had the kind of time that you remember for the long haul. The kind of experience that makes you want to tell everyone you meet about it. Yes, it was THAT much fun at Smarty Pantz!!!
We were there in the middle of the day and most of the rooms were available. We chose the easiest of the three – one was too difficult and one was too freaky (handcuffed in a basement!) Once we had chosen our room, our host had us wait in the lounge while he went over some quick rules. They were simple things like “no force is required to open anything”, and “everything is reachable, no need to climb on furniture”, and “anything with red tape is not part of the play and don’t touch it!” He then went to get our guide. The lounge’s retro salon chairs complete with dome hair dryers above and ash trays in the arm rests were a nice touch, and we admired them while we waited.
When our guide appeared, he looked suspiciously like the front desk host. He had an endearing speech impediment and the nerdy quality you would expect in the owner of a paranormal research company. He led us to our challenge, mere steps down the hallway.
Our particular adventure took place in the study of a haunted house, where the spirit of a beheaded wife killed guests until she was laid to rest. Our job was to reunite the head with the body so the spirit could pass through to the otherworld (and stop killing people!) Our guide locked our cell phones in the study’s oak desk, and basically told us that in 45 minutes the spirit will come and kill us if we don’t find her head and body and reunite them. Huh.
We were left with a radio with which we could ask 2 questions. Other than that, there was a desk, 2 chairs, 2 book cases, a grandfather clock, a Ouija coffee table, a lamp, and a fireplace with a poker set. Above the mantle was the portrait of the husband – the beheader! Ick.
Without clue of a starting point, we spread out looking for the key that would open either the rolltop desk’s rolltop (where we assumed the body was hidden) or the grandfather clock. Within the first minute I was already investigating the portrait above the mantle. Noise came from the radio: “oh, I forgot to mention, do NOT touch the portrait above the mantle!” Huh. I backed away. Clearly there are cameras with which they are watching you. Good idea, actually.
Within minutes, I was back at that portrait. I said to my friends “did he tell me not to touch the portrait because he WANTED me to touch the portrait?” because it totally could’ve been a clue, don’t you think??
It wasn’t. The radio jumped back to life: “seriously, do NOT touch the portrait.”
LOL! Okay, okay, I won’t touch the portrait. Why didn’t you just put red tape on it? Then I wouldn’t have touched it! LOL!
They told us this was the easiest of the three rooms. What. the. hell. It felt like we were just wandering around in a sea of jello – nothing distinguishable, no lanes, no arrows pointing the way. IT WAS AWESOME!!!
If you’re a fan of puzzles, you know that the easy ones SUCK! But then, the super hard ones suck too, so it’s a fine balance. I found this one hard enough to make me want to crack it but easy enough to keep me interested. It’s possible that the 2 tacos and half a beer beforehand dulled my senses a bit. Or not!
In the end, we died. We did not reunite the head and the body, but DAMN we had fun trying! Alas, we ran out of time and the wrath of the spirit was released when our 45 minutes were up. Luckily the guide intercepted and quickly showed us the error of our ways, thus we were spared and I lived to write this harrowing tale…
If you too won passes to this place, you absolutely MUST go! And if you don’t have anyone to go with, take ME! And if you don’t take me, I’m going to have to save my pennies and go again with my husband. He actually wants to take our 8 year old here – it’s not at all scary and she loves riddles, so we think she would really enjoy it! With her Dad to guide her, she could work her way through the clues. However, the props do require SOME level of life experience, so I wouldn’t recommend putting kids in there on their own… but what a great place it would be for a birthday party!!!
Last year we tried the escape room Exit in Richmond, which is what I had expected THIS escape room to be like. It is not. This one is leagues above! Exit had a handful of teens/20 somethings running the joint, all who were more interested in chit chatting amongst themselves and seemed bored of their actual jobs. They weren’t personable, they were just a bunch of bots spewing rules and going through the motions. Smarty Pantz had one guy. ONE. And he was SPECTACULAR!!!
Honestly, if I had never gone to Smarty Pantz, I would still be telling people that Exit was good – there’s no denying the experience in the room was fascinating and challenging. But now that I’ve gone to this wonderful, magical world with ambience and character and story building, I just can’t go back to Exit! I can’t!!!