LONDON — Imagine surviving a plane crash, only to end-up knee-deep in quicksand, stranded in a jungle full of snakes … well, now you really can experience that, for £29!
When mother and daughter duo, Jane Smith (62) and Ellie Buckler (29), set-out to launch Dark Master Escape Rooms in Crowborough, East Sussex, they wanted to disrupt the industry and bring Hollywood magic to the ever-growing world of the escape room craze. They contacted Dave Bamforth of Creativearts.co.uk to create and build a truly immersive wonderland – 18 spectacular themed rooms, full of magic and special effects. The escape room design includes a haunted toyshop, an underground river-adventure, secret tunnels, a cave behind a waterfall, the arctic tundra – where it actually snows, an Aztec temple hidden in a jungle, a giant crocodile which swallows you whole, an extreme turbulence airplane simulator – complete with falling air-masks, a damaged nuclear bunker which rains with real sparks, a quicksand simulator, interactive holograms, pyrotechnics, motion platforms and so much more…
With Sony’s release of “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” in cinemas this week on July 16 (the sequel to the popular “Escape Room” movie), it couldn’t be a more perfect time for Dark Master to open its doors. Because Sony’s movie features both a plane crash and a quicksand simulator, fans can literally come to East Sussex and re-live parts of the movie for themselves.
While the cast of Escape Room 2 go up against the shadowy Minos Corporation, who build deadly escape rooms, for the pleasure of sadistic rich folks, those trying their hand at the rooms designed by Creativearts.co.uk will find themselves in a thickly-plotted mystery, taking on a mysterious supervillain of their own.
Dark Master’s rooms include a jungle adventure, which participants say is, “just like being in an Indiana Jones movie”. Players must use their wits, teamwork, and problem-solving skills to take down a mysterious master criminal.
“The jungle was so much fun to create,” says Dave Bamforth – a designer from Creativearts.co.uk. “It’s genuinely like being lost in a real tropical forest, complete with creeping vines, trees, sounds and smell effects. There’s countless dangerous plants and tricks, including a 6-foot Venus fly trap, and an ancient temple to explore. Guests have to assemble a boat and sail through a winding underground river, which they access from a cave behind a waterfall –they paddle through a winding cave, lit only by candles and artificial fireflies. It’s been so good to see how amazing the early reviews of that room are.”
Other games include “Shamley’s” – a haunted, derelict toyshop, and “One Wing” – a flight to the villain’s last known location, courtesy of an under-budget airline (with an alarming tendency to send planes plummeting from the sky).
“We built the airplane set on a Hollywood motion simulator,” says Bamforth. “It’s so scary, as the whole thing shakes like mad, with extreme turbulence – air masks fall, the engine catches fire and scary hidden messages appear, as you plummet to your doom. I don’t think there’s anything like it elsewhere in the UK. Dark Master totally raises the bar for escape room design.”
A fourth room sees guests working to disarm a nuclear warhead, before it detonates and wipes out a large chunk of the global population. Creativearts.co.uk used special “cold spark effects” which, despite being real sparks, aren’t hot enough to harm you.
Creativearts.co.uk has its roots in the early 90s rave and club-scene, and grew to create fun interior designs and immersive visual spectacles for clients such as Coca Cola, Virgin, BBC, Mick Jagger, Beyoncé and Goldfrapp. Dave Bamforth, Production Director for Creativearts.co.uk, recounts his favourite projects. “We turned a bedroom into a pirate ship once, for the son of an a-list celebrity. That was awesome, as it had a working cannon that fired plush toys at annoying sisters,” he explains. “The most satisfying thing, right now, is how companies are asking us to pimp their offices. Working from home has left employees unwilling to return to work, so by helping to make the workplace a super-fun, healthy and positive environment (through the use of art, creativity and immersive design) we help to make the workplace a more fun place to be – where people want to be and happiness filters down to productivity. One client had us turn their office to a rainforest, with tree-house meeting rooms.”
But events is at the core of passion for Creativearts.co.uk, who organise birthday parties for celebrities, corporate events and product launches – not to mention immersive zones for music festivals and hot-ticketed events, such as Elrow Town.
“The last year has been challenging for the events industry,” Bamforth continued. “We were so lucky to have projects to keep us busy throughout lockdown. We were so immersed in what we were building, that it’s so gratifying to hear just how blown away Dark Master’s guests are, and to see how amazed they are by the adventures we’ve created for them.”
“We’re just hoping that after a year of being stuck indoors, people will find it liberating to literally break out of a lockdown …that is, if they make it past the snakes and out of the quicksand.”
Want to pimp your office, bedroom, party, or escape room? www.creativearts.co.uk
Dark Master Escape Rooms officially opened July 1, 2021. Tickets: www.darkmaster.co.uk
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions debuts in cinemas on July 16, 2021.
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A leading specialist in immersive entertainment: www.creativearts.co.uk
Universal, Smirnoff, Coca-Cola, X-Box, Sony, Channel 4, Horrible Histories, Selfridges (Window / Retail Display), MTV, Interflora, Alexander McQueen, Saw 4, Virgin, Vice, L’Oreal, Ministry of Sound, ASOS, iTunes, Cream, Glastonbury Festival, Heineken, City of London, Rockstar Energy, Kerrang, Radio1 and Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Musical Artists the company have produced creative works or shows for include:
Beyoncé, Goldfrapp, Justin Timberlake, McFly, Supergrass, Orbital, Aphex Twin, Boy George, The Human League, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Fat Boy Slim, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Har Mar Superstar.
Dark Master Escape Rooms:
Located in Crowborough, East Sussex
- Opened 1st July 2021.
- Rooms of varying difficulties, suitable for beginners to experts.
- For 2 to 8 guests of all ages, 12 and over.
- Open every day except Tuesdays
- Each room has a dedicated games master.
- Tickets range £20 – £29 depending on group size and date.
- Advance bookings required. Book online at www.darkmaster.co.uk
- Comfortable clothes and flat shoes required, as things can get a little messy!
- Basic refreshments & parking on-site – and superb quality local restaurants, such as Pussanon Thai and Jade’s Palace Chinese in Crowborough.
Trip Advisor Reviews for the Dark Master Escape Room:
“The two rooms we did I honestly felt I was in a movie set as if I’d walked into Indiana Jones and suddenly had to take part …and boy I have a taste for it now. The second room has such a different vibe I was suddenly in Lost it felt very real. Each time you thought something couldn’t get better it did.” – Izzy
“The best escape room experience we have ever had. I absolutely love escape rooms, having visited several around the world and the UK…It’s a great mix of theatre, complexity and fun.” – Callum W
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is the sequel to the 2019 psychological thriller. It will debut on July 16, 2021 and stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Indya Moore, Holland Roden, Isabelle Fuhrman, Carlito Olivero, Thomas Cocquerel and James Frain.
UK Events Industry:
- The UK events industry is worth £70 billion annually, but following the Covid19 pandemic, 700,000 in the industry are at risk of losing their jobs, and many of the independent contractors were also excluded from the Government rescue packages.
- The cost has been great, resulting in financial loss, economic hardship, and difficult business decisions in an attempt to stay afloat.
- Under current UK Covid19 guidelines, live events are back to a degree, with capacity and social distancing measures in place.
- Capacity for events is limited to 1,000 people indoors (or 50% of the venue’s capacity if lower), 4,000 outdoors (or 50% of the site’s capacity if lower), and 10,000 (or 25% of the venue’s seated capacity if lower) for large spaces like stadiums.
UK Escape Room Industry:
- There are currently over 1,500 escape rooms in the UK.
- Typical duration of an escape room is 1 hour.
- Usually booked in groups of 2-8 people.
- Only 41% of people manage to complete an escape room in time
SOURCE Creative Arts