Escape Room Review: The Donor Room

When watching horror movies, do you find yourself shouting at the screen about how dumb that person is for going upstairs instead of out the front door when the killer is in hot pursuit? Do you often imagine how you would react in these terrifying scenarios and what plan of action you would take that would ensure your survival against monsters and madmen?  But isn't it all too easy to cast judgments while safely snuggled in the arms of your loved one in the theater or in the comfort and safety of your home?  Well, no longer must you rely on your imagination to wonder how you might act when facing impending doom, you can actually see for yourself first hand if you've got what it takes to put yourself to the test and escape death or if you too shall fall victim like those on screen characters you previously underestimated in your overly confident mockery. 

ROOM ESCAPE ATLANTA is a hidden gem, at least the Tucker building which I discovered upon our visit, is the last day at that location and going forward they now will be operating out of their Edgewood site.  Upon arrival, my husband's cousin who we invited along texts me saying "We got here early and it's kind of creepy just in its location.  Don't be alarmed, it doesn't look like it should be where it is, so your GPS ain't lying."  She isn't kidding.  Tucked away in a non-descript strip mall/office building, it doesn't look like what you'd imagine it to be; however, we know we are in the right place when we spot a sign that simply reads "Zombie" out front.  I'm not sure what their other place looks like, but this one certainly sets the tone of creepiness, like you've been lured to some obscure location and maybe you should text a friend to check on you in an hour to make sure you've been accounted for.

The doors to the building remain locked until 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time, and once you are allowed inside, the main room itself is fairly small and non-threatening.  It actually looks like an event area instead of a haunted house, which sort of surprises me.  There are still 'zombie' and 'quarantine' type signage along the walls, as well as the names of the themed rooms so you know which door leads you to your horrific fate.  I don't see the designated rooms at first, as I am caught up the wall of nametag stickers that line the entranceway.  As my party and I wander inside warily, we are greeted by a mad scientist wearing a typical white lab coat that of course is smeared with a bloody handprint.  I must say, that guy is just fantastic in his role as he maintains a heavy Borat like accent while mingling with everyone in the room. There are a good number of us, as my group has the max of 6 people for The Donor Room, and there is another larger group that are getting prepared to enter Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.  We all seem to be on guard about what we have agreed to put ourselves through, but this actor is entertaining the whole 15 minutes while everyone signs the electronic waiver and fills out their own name tags - which by the way can say anything you desire. 

My husband went with two movie references, which hopefully the recent horror moviegoer as well as the Star Wars fan can both appreciate.  The nametag wall, as you can imagine, is plastered with all sorts of inventive, sassy names and sayings, and I truly hope they don't just tear it down when they move locations.  This wall must be preserved for it is too great a treasure to behold.  You can bet there is a Rick Grimes, Darly Dixon and at least several Buffys and Beyonces amongs many clever others.  But back to this demented doctor actor because it really is worth mentioning the fun tone this guy sets prior to locking us in our respective rooms.  He is always on, never once breaking character in any way.  He doesn't overdo his performance, having just the right amount of interaction as he casually chats with people, comments on nametags, answers questions and creates an air of funny yet still suspenseful waiting.  At one point, after not initially seeing the sign for The Donor Room, I walk up to him and say I am here to write a review and am trying to make sure this is the right location, and he sincerely replies, "Yes, it's good, because you know, you want to know exactly where you will be going to die."  Then when he proceeds to ask what I am writing for and I try to explain it's a "horror" website (pronouncing it as "Whore-er" instead of "har-ar"), he lifts a brow and asks, "whore-errrr?" I chuckle and say the word the other way and he smiles and nods, "Oh yes, ok ok, different thing, but still good."  He has the whole room laughing and even his presentation of company rules and survival tips are delightful to listen to.  His commitment to the role certainly evokes a sense of playfulness, and for a while you almost forget that you've agreed to be locked in a room for the next hour.

Once inside, I can only describe it as a scene fit for fans of "Day of the Dead", "Saw", "Cube", "The Walking Dead" and "The Cabin in the Woods."  You may think you're resourceful or smart enough to crack all the codes, find the clues and solve all the puzzles, but don't be so certain. There's a rich myriad of mystery, a wide variety of tools to utilize as well as some seriously surprising elements involved.  A concoction of urgency, determination and adrenaline rushed quick thinking on your feet, the Donor Room is a great blend of fun interaction, humor and scares that will either leave you feeling invincible or mentally stumped.  There's an admirable attention to detail to the story, setup and decoration that deserves commending and at times you really feel as though you've been thrown right into a scene from a movie. 

So what's the verdict?  Think we stepped up the plate and showed that mad scientist we weren't going to go under the knife for his crazy experiments?  We had some horror aficionados, a software developer, even a professor amongst our midst and yet we still fell victim to our gruesome end.  I will let you figure out your own strategies and make your own mistakes, so I'll just say that with a 35% survival rate (25% for the zombie room) we didn't feel too disappointed in ourselves for not making it out alive.  Something that I really enjoy about ROOM ESCAPE ATLANTA is that after time's up, since after you attempt a room you are no longer able to re-visit it, the rest of the game that we could not solve is then revealed to us, resulting in a unified blowing of the minds as we realize how off we were on some parts but how close we were to other things.  It truly is an unforgettable, thrilling experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever talked smack during a horror movie, or just loves them in general.  It's time you put your money where your mouth is and see for yourself how easy it is to live through your very own room escape! You also get to take some goofy pictures at the very end - a token of your success, or in our case #failure. 

Some important facts about ROOM ESCAPE ATLANTA, which can be found on their website and social media pages:

  • A portion of all ticket sales will go to the Red Cross to save and impact lives around the world (You're having fun AND doing good!)
  • 10+ allowed, under 14 must be accompanied by an adult (You know if your child will be into this or not)
  • The only Room Escape in Atlanta which adds actors to the room (Pretty exciting element in your experience, and our actress is just great.  She had us going good with a few tricks up her sleeve!  Also very cool and nice to us.)
  • The Donor Room can have 2-6 participants (We had 6 and you really can't have had more than that to move around well.)
  • Trapped in a Room with a Zombie requires 4-12 guests
  • There's also a "Snowmaggedon" themed room, which is a play on the snowstorm the city suffered a couple years back (Dare to relive the nightmare?)
  • $28 per person (You get a returning guest promo code to try out other rooms!)
  • Address at permanent location: 314 Auburn Ave, Atlanta, GA 30303
  • Contact info: (404) 480-0644 or info@atlantaroomescape.com
  • Room Escape is also promoted as a unique and amusing way for teambuilding for corporations and groups (They can even bring the event to your space and will observe and analyze participants communication style, problem solving abilities, how they handle pressure and decisions and this will be used to identify their strengths!)
  • If you get touched by the crawling zombie, you will be required to sit and no longer will be permitted to search for clues, but you can still participate verbally.  (I surely did, so that's good to know)
  • Cannibalism has been outlawed since 1804, so the zombie is not legally permitted to eat you (They need you to know this)
  • Cell phones are not allowed to be used in the room (Also don't bother bringing purses or bags for they will only weigh you down, making you more vulnerable to becoming zombie bait)
  • Contact them if there are no session times available with 12 tickets and they will create a special session time for you (That's pretty cool of them)
  • They're always looking for actors!  If you're interested, please submit your resume, headshot, and a brief statement of interest to info@atlantaroomescape.com.

Stimulating, challenging, and fun - don't miss THE ROOM ESCAPE ATLANTA!

Nadia Robertson