MoviEscape Bowlers-Trafford – Escape The Cantina
The Team: TDM, Mr Carrot, J, P, C, A
Star Wars and Escape Rooms, two of my favourite things… but just how well would they go together? We headed to MoviEscape‘s Escape The Cantina at Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Trafford to find out. We were once again teaming up with J, P, and C, and they were also bringing along A. This would be the first time I’d played in a team of 6.
After the destruction of an Imperial Warship important cargo was left drifting through space. This cargo contained vital information and plans on the Imperial Armies latest weapon. You have one hour to recover these plans before you are captured. Your only help is the grumpy Cantina bartender… but is he who he says he is?
We arrived at Bowlers about an hour early as we’d come direct from Code To Exit in Altrincham where we’d just played another couple of rooms. We checked with one of the door staff that we had the right place as there weren’t any signs for the Escape Room outside. They confirmed we were and that it was upstairs, and they let us in to wait in the cafe. The whole place seemed quite busy, and as it turned out there was also a boxing match on in Arena 2 of the Exhibition Centre.
We had some time to kill so we grabbed some excellent curry and chips from the cafe while we waited, and then decided to wander up to the Cantina which we’d seen was signposted as upstairs once we were inside. This is where we faced out first challenge of getting past one of the security guards…
We told him we were there for the Cantina Escape Room, but he wouldn’t let us past and said that no-one was allowed up there as that’s where the changing rooms were for the boxers. We told him we understood, but that’s also where the room that we were booked in for was.
He told us the room wasn’t up the stairs, so we pointed out the sign behind him which quite clearly said that it was. He looked a bit confused and suggested we go and check with the other security on the main door.
We went and had a quick word with the guy that had let us into the building earlier on to confirm that the Cantina was indeed up the stairs, which he did, and then wandered back to our new friend on the stairs… who still denied the Cantina was up there and still wouldn’t let us past.
It was all a bit annoying, but I guess that the guy was agency staff and hadn’t been briefed to do anything other than stop people going past, and probably had no idea what an Escape Room was never mind that there was one there.
At this point we decided it was best to give up and wait for the rest of our group to arrive as it was one of them that had actually made the booking and would have more details with them.
Once the others arrived, they brought one of the senior security over from the main entrance with them, and after a brief exchange we were past and on our way. Challenge one complete… by getting someone else to sort it!
And on to the room itself. It’s worth noting that while the Cantina isn’t running as an Escape Room, it’s a fully operational bar for the rest of the time which necessitates that the Escape Room elements have to be quite modular and removable. The result of this is that there can’t really be any ‘built in’ things in the room, so there isn’t any chance of hidden tech or surprises of that nature.
What Escape the Cantina did have that I’ve never experienced before though, was a live actor in the room with us. He was playing the part of the bartender who would give us items and offer hints in exchange for certain items that we found. I wasn’t too sure about this concept to start with, but the guy played his part brilliantly and certainly helped to enhance the experience.
The room itself is huge… no, seriously huge… you could have fitted about fifty of other rooms that I’ve done in there, no exaggeration! To start with, I assumed we’d only be playing in the first part of it as the start area was fenced off, but then I spotted the padlock on there and the full room was available to us once we’d cracked that.
As far as the puzzles go, there’s quite a bit of hunting for items involved initially and the puzzles are mainly variations of things I’ve encountered before, though that didn’t make them any less fun or even easier. I think sometimes when similar themes are used in different ways it can actually make it more difficult as you can get stuck in one line of thinking that you know from before.
One slight issue we had is that the lighting was quite ‘atmospheric’ (for that read ‘dark’), but there was no problem with using our own torches for a bit of extra illumination so I’d advise taking one along with you. There are other light sources in the room if you forget though, so it’s not a major problem.
In summing up, I find it very difficult to imagine how it would be for a fan of either just Star Wars, or just Escape Rooms. Is it too Star Wars specific with not enough puzzles for ER fans, and would SW fans be utterly baffled and wonder what the hell was going on and what they were supposed to do?
Personally, as a big fan of both I loved the place.