On Sunday, a group of LPers had the opportunity to experience a preview of "The Naughty Nine" ‘Twas The Heist Before Christmas Escape Room. The escape room is located at Back in Time Escape Rooms at 2970 N Sepulveda Blvd. in Manhattan Beach, CA. Time slots are available from November 14 through January 14 — and the best part is that the experience is free in promotion of the upcoming film The Naughty Nine, coming to the Disney Channel on November 22 and Disney+ on November 23.
Our five-person group consisted of me (Doobie Moseley), my wife Rebekah, our 14 year old son Gideon, and Laughing Place editor Mike Celestino along with his wife Tori. My family had done a couple of escape rooms in the past while Mike and Tori had done many more.
None of us had the chance to see The Naughty Nine yet, but that wasn’t a problem – our escape room host caught us up on the basics. Our group had been naughty all year and Santa wasn’t going to give us any toys which was a great disappointment as we desperately wanted the latest gaming console. So, our task was to go back in time to December 24th at Santa’s workshop and get the console ourselves – the titular “heist”.
Given that this was a free, promotional experience, I expected the escape room to be on the simple side. I thought it would be something any family could easily complete with the real goal being to showcase the movie. But, happily, that was not the case. I’ve done two escape rooms before this, and "The Naughty Nine" ‘Twas The Heist Before Christmas Escape Room felt just like those. We began in a room with no clues whatsoever and had to explore until the first clue showed itself. That led to a 4-digit code which led to opening a lock which led to ….. you know how these work.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, but suffice it to say, within the 60 minute time limit, we encountered puzzles for all levels, many of which required more than one person which makes it a great family activity. I am not good at escape rooms at all, but I was still able to participate in some of the more basic and group activities like searching the room and counting, while my more advanced partners solved the puzzles that required the careful reading of instructions, figuring out combinations and other complex (for me) activities.
I really don’t want to spoil anything, so here are some pictures from our experience in no particular order.
Even if you’re a group of players at my level, that should not prevent you from trying it. At any time you can yell out for assistance and it will be given to you. So you don’t need to worry about spending the entire hour time limit stuck on puzzle one.
What I loved most about "The Naughty Nine" ‘Twas The Heist Before Christmas Escape Room was the theme. Even without seeing the film, the Christmas background was very enjoyable. Escape rooms often have a dark-ish theme, but this one was bright, cheery and positive the whole way. The main room was full of gingerbread houses and other Christmas decor with classic themes providing background music. The first song, in particular, I was always humming along to. I made a note that it was “great thinking music”. Unfortunately, I did not find out what it was, but I did confirm that none of the music is from the movie itself. There was also the smell of gingerbread piped in which was heavenly.
"The Naughty Nine" ‘Twas The Heist Before Christmas Escape Room was, simply put, awesome! It’s easily the most fun of the three escape rooms I’ve done in my life. The room’s creator, Tafin Hong, was on hand to watch our experience and we had the chance to speak with him briefly. He told us there are lots of little touches from the movie within the room, so now I’m excited to watch The Nightly Nine and make those connections (which is their goal, right?)
Even if "The Naughty Nine" ‘Twas The Heist Before Christmas Escape Room had a cost, I would still recommend it as a fun way for a family or group of friends to spend an hour. But as a free experience — if you’re in the Manhattan Beach area and have any interest at all in escape rooms — signing up is an absolute no-brainer. And, if you’ve always wondered if an escape room was something you might enjoy but feared wasting your money, then this would be perfect.
"The Naughty Nine" ‘Twas The Heist Before Christmas Escape Room runs from November 14 through January 14 at Back in Time Escape Rooms in Manhattan Beach, CA. Put yourself on the Nice list and reserve your spot now!