Headless Horseman Escape Rooms

778 Broadway, Ulster Park, NY 12487
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Features:

Free Parking, Covered Outdoor Waiting Line


Team Old Crow Hollow reviewed this attraction on July 1, 2017.

Final Score: 7.55

Summary:

Your reclusive great uncle has hidden his fortune in his manor and you have one hour to find it. Will you solve the puzzles, find the clues and the fortune before your time is up? The Inheritance Escape Room can be found right off the main entrance to the grounds for the Headless Horseman Hayrides midway. This room is suited and designed for larger groups and would be harder to play with less than 6 people. They provide a professional, fun experience, which is what it’s all about, really… having fun!


Atmosphere: 5.75

The Escape Room building is actually right off the main entrance to the grounds for the Headless Horseman Hayrides Midway, so there’s a creepy vibe even in the daytime. There is a big wooden door backdrop with huge locks, chains and keys on it next to the waiting area, which is where you will take your team picture at the end of the game.

The waiting area is not the most done up space, but this is just for the short pre-game briefing so it’s not like you’re spending a lot of time here anyway. The covered area was comfortable enough and it was a nice, warm day, so no issues there. Not sure how they will handle converting to being open year round. Most likely, they will have to close it in as they get closer to the Christmas Season.

You then watch a video describing the rules of the room and how it all works, including the fact that, in these rooms, anything not involved in the game (or not meant to be moved) is marked with an H sticker. This proved helpful once in the room so that you don’t waste time with checking items that are just décor and don’t help in game play. They then give you a basket to put your items into. Naturally, you cannot take your cell phone in with you.

From the waiting area, you are led into one of the two game rooms they are currently running (the other being Death Row) and, since the entrance here is just an enclosed building, you have no idea what you are about to walk into. Although, the people in the room before us was a large bachelorette group and they were screaming a great deal as their game was ending. We were unsure what that was going to mean for us as we were getting ready to go in.


Theme: 6

The story of The Inheritance is literally one sentence: your reclusive great uncle has hidden his fortune in his manor and you have an hour to find it. Not super original, but keep reading for further explanation.

Like all the rooms I have played at this location, the rooms are incredibly detailed and immersive, given the ample supply of props they have on hand from the haunted houses. It really adds to the immersive feeling of the room. You could, in theory, walk into this room not knowing anything about the story or theme and play just fine; although, there is a clever way they use this theme and story that indirectly affects how you play. I don’t want to reveal it since it does indirectly affect the game and, like I said, it’s very clever.

I didn’t necessarily ever feel like we were actually trapped; it’s not really that kind of game and the door to the room is out of eyeshot most of the time, so you feel closed in and immersed in the room, but not in danger or anything. There was also no implication of what would happen if we didn’t make it out, which would’ve raised the stakes, but you knew you were playing a game. I also didn’t actually feel anxious or worried for the first 20 minutes. We felt like we were making progress on our own, finding a lot of objects and exploring the room. Then I started getting annoyed for the next ten minutes knowing we were already at a standstill it seemed, and we had to wait 10 minutes for the first clue.

So, in retrospect, the lack of story didn’t really matter to the game or how we played, necessarily. But, had this theme been extended more to the pre-briefing, it may have helped the immersion factor. Adding actors as well could possibly have helped in the overall experience. My thought after thinking about it was, how much cooler or interesting would it have been to have the pre-briefing in another themed room for a will reading with explanations by your uncle’s lawyer, or by your uncle on the monitor. This would provide greater atmosphere and detail as to why you are searching for this inheritance and what will happen if you fail. Throw in some weirdo relatives to the mix and you have a situation where you are now more invested in that world. Granted, this means higher overhead costs and production elements (making the video and paying actors), but it would have just kicked this room up to the next level.


Special Effects: 8.2

This room had excellent props that both matched the theme and were hi tech. Lots of cool holdovers from the previous Houdini room here, but the way the room worked was very well-done, and -spaced. Lots of cool props that did cool stuff. Even if it had a sticker on it signifying it was not part of the game, it was still a cool prop and went well with the room.

If the prop was part of the game, it was hi-tech in ways that I’m not sure how they actually worked, and if you didn’t pay attention (as I did once), you didn’t even realize that what you did led to something else happening. The very nature of the game for this room is interactive, every prop being hands on and interactive. Very cool.

Sound effects were mostly background, setting an ominous or foreboding tone. Sound was well used in the major puzzle later in the game; but, in general, it was not overly loud to the point of distraction or disrupting communication. The music, of course, did start to get louder and more pounding in nature as time ticked down, which lent a feeling of impending doom and a sense of urgency.

The lighting was dark enough to be creepy and set a mood while still being able to see well. In another room I had played here, it was so dark I couldn’t even read the numbers on the locks. But, in this room, it was just fine… perfect balance. Nothing special about the lighting except one tool used in a major puzzle. There was definitely a couple of really cool effects, which all center around the major puzzle combination at the end of the first part of the room. Lots of good stuff there, but most is behind the scenes making it all work. The props were very well integrated into the design of the game, as the effects are not just there to be cool, but to be a major part of the game.

Everything is interactive and hands on in this room, and the puzzles did require almost everyone on the team being aware and working on things. I think a lot of them were unique or hand-made puzzles and the ones that weren’t seemed to have been modified well to fit the game. This room has a great deal of cool stuff… the kind of room that, if all the puzzles were unlocked, you would just like to be in the room playing with everything and making it work.


Gameplay: 8.07

The design was very well crafted and, once you understand what is going on, it all made sense and could be figured out. We did solve a lot on our own that maybe not everyone would get, but we got stuck on ones that maybe others would have figured out. There was one prop/puzzle in particular that it seemed was destined to only be solved by the 30 minute hint. Perhaps we could have figured it out sooner. Once revealed, the solutions did make sense though, so that was good; we saw how we could have figured them out. The only downside was that there was so much of, “Okay, I know this does something, but I don’t know what, or how to make it work…,” like we knew almost all the pieces, but didn’t know how to put them together. The truth was that there was no way to make it work unless you completed certain tasks. Perhaps others would see that as a good thing, but it felt frustrating spending at least ten minutes just going back over the room again searching and not getting any further along.

The Inheritance is non-linear to a point. There wasn’t any specific order that you had to solve the puzzles in, just a bunch of different things before you could attempt the main puzzle and, of course, you had to solve them all or no go. Even one unsolved thing and you would be stopped. As such, we burned most of our time here. Again, the logic was good and the puzzles or challenges were simple enough that, if you knew what you were looking for, you would be in good shape. One puzzle shut us down for 20 minutes and was only solved by a hint, and it was something that we tried earlier, just not exactly the right way, apparently.

We used all of our hints and then some I think. It made sense what the game master said, but there was a tone or attitude to it that made us feel stupid, or that we were stupid. The first “clue” was actually just confirming that we had actually done something when solving an earlier puzzle. We didn’t realize at first that it had done something else (There’s a lot of that in this room), which is not a bad thing, but it was a waste of a clue because we had already gotten the item we needed, and the clue didn’t advance us in the game.

We did eventually get two more clues that got us over the hump of the two big roadblock areas and then we were off to the races as time ran down. Afterwards, I realized that we were probably farther along than we knew and he didn’t want to help us with too much time left, as the rest of the puzzles were quick.

It’s always easy to keep track of your time as there is a big, green, neon clock ticking down, and there was a chiming sound like every ten minutes I believe that got louder as it counted down. The room was big, and most things faced away from it, so since I wasn’t watching the clock, the minutes did slip away at times.


Customer Service: 9.25

It is extremely easy to find the Headless Horseman Escape Rooms, right off 9W which is a major road. There was a nice big sign out front. Parking was right up front by the ticket office and the staff parked there, so it was easy to see where to go. Right off the Midway area is a gazebo where a friendly staff member checks you in and has you sign electronic waivers (You will get a copy emailed to you). After that, she escorts you over to the covered, open-air waiting area with benches and lockers for your personal items. After that. you just go through the main entrance area and it funnels you right to the Escape Rooms.

The general manager, hostess and other staff were great… welcoming, helpful, friendly, and they even tracked us down before we left to further answer any questions we had, which helped a lot and made us feel better about how we played.

We never actually spoke to our game master in person before or after the game as he was resetting the room. During the game, though, he seemed annoyed by us and kinda made us feel like we were stupid when we were actually solving everything, but just stuck on two things. He also asked us if we had already tried things (which we had). As the game designer, he might have too much knowledge of the game to be game master to where he couldn’t understand why we were missing things.

Overall, the room and the grounds felt very safe, nothing sharp or dangerous. The room was large enough for us and probably for groups up to 10 people, but a little tight for 12 (which the room is designed to hold).


Value: 8

You will need to purchase tickets in advance to this room, just like most, as the rooms are booked online for specific time slots. You could try to walk up, but there’s a good chance you won’t get in, as the rooms will be booked solid. If you have a small group you might have a shot.

There are no return discounts that I’m aware of… just the desire to immediately play the next room and, actually, at least half of my group wanted to go right back in and replay this room again since we didn’t completely finish.

Compared to other things you could do, the price of $36 per person seems high, but the quality of the rooms make it worth it. This is essentially a special occasion, couple of times a year thing, really, so it’s actually cheaper than an amusement park or concert, but more fun because it’s a different experience and interactive. It’s not a passive thing like watching a movie. I personally wish the price was in the 20’s, but for the quality of the room and the amount of tech and work that went into creating it, I can understand and justify the price.

A good thing to point out here is that the Headless Horseman Escape Rooms are suited and designed for larger groups and would be harder to play with less than 6 people, really. Too much to do, too much ground to cover, and you need to be spread out to realize everything that is going on. If you do have a small group, there is the possibility of being put in with strangers. The best bet is to just try to get as many friends together, pick a day and time and keep selling them on how much fun it will be.

I do think the higher price and the need to have a larger group to play would definitely be a deterrent for a lot of people. It takes out the date element of just being able to go and do something with your significant other on a Friday night just the two of you. But, like haunted attractions, this type of experience is best when you have friends around anyway to talk about it afterwards, so you have to approach it that way.

I think the value and quality of the Headless Horseman Escape Rooms is the biggest incentive to return. They provide a professional fun experience, which is what it’s all about, really… having fun!


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