Imagine getting yourself locked in a room on purpose… and the only way out is to solve puzzles that lead to the key. Sound claustrophobic? Impossible? Exciting?
Researching another article on Raleigh, I stumbled across Tic Toc Escapes, an entertainment venue that locks people in a room on purpose. To get out you have to solve the clues that lead to the key to escape. I’d never heard of such a place, but escape rooms like this are popping up across the country.
Since our family loves mind games, this sounded like the perfect activity for families with teens. They invited us to try it out so I could tell you about it. Thanks, Tic Toc Escapes ~ We’re still smiling!
About our experience
Tic Toc Escapes is located in the Five Points neighborhood of Raleigh, perfect for an escape rooms adventure. Housed in a narrow old building, next door to Hayes Barton Café, it looks unassuming. You could easily miss this treasure if you didn’t know where you were going.
On arrival, guests must sign a release form — all about warnings against claustrophobia, not destroying the props, guarding the secrets of the puzzles and granting permission for minors to participate. After that, they provide a couple simple demonstrations using props in the lobby to explain how to solve puzzles…. and then the fun begins!
We stepped through the doors of the Green Room. We have become a rock band with an hour until our big debut on stage.
Click. The door locks.
For a moment, we stood in the middle of the room — the only thing we understood was the countdown clock up in the corner.
TIC TOC… 59 minutes 32 seconds to go.
And then, we searched. Clues were everywhere and nowhere. For quite a while, nothing made much sense.
This is where personalities come in. Ellie, only 11 and inquisitive, looked at everything. Ben, a visual artist, searched (and found) clues with connections. Quiet Rob just soaked it in — his wheels calmly turning. Orderly me, well, I was a bit overwhelmed.
Then, we figured out the first clue and things took off from there.
About 30 minutes in, we hit a snag. We had a clue mostly figured out, but couldn’t solve it. I admit, I got frustrated. I knew I should be able to figure it out but I couldn’t.
TIC TOC…. time passed. We finally decided to use a hint. (Phew — you get three! I recommend you give yourself 15 minutes before even thinking about a hint. It takes a while to figure out what you’re trying to do.)
Pieces started falling into place. Ben was quick to put things together. Ellie kept finding little things that the rest of us would not have thought to consider. Rob’s quiet wheels started connecting ideas. Even I figured out a few things!
The closer we got to solving the puzzle the more exciting it got — and yet, also frustrating. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “We should be able to figure this out.” UGH!
TIC TOC…. with about 12 minutes left, I wondered if we’d get out in time.
With about 4 minutes to go, we made a huge leap forward — solving several clues in quick succession. And then…. we got there — only one little task kept us from escaping.
Ben, our secret weapon and usually calm guy, figured it all out. He ran to find the key and I…
watched the clock! TIC TOC.
He was slower than I wanted him to be. At 3 minutes and 30 seconds I started counting down.
“Moooooommmmmmmm. Stop. That’s not helping!” (TeeHee — not like I thought it would)
He solved the puzzle and withdrew the key, handing it solemnly over to Ellie.
Voila! We escaped! (With a little over a minute to spare!)
As we stepped through the door, the team was there to greet us with high fives. So much fun!
Mom Says – Kids Say: escape rooms
Mom says: I give TIC TOC Escapes, and escape rooms generally, 5-stars! It’s been four days since our visit and we still smile when we talk about it. I’m grinning from ear to ear as I write this.
I expected to feel claustrophobic, but they provide an escape key — so if you do panic or need the restroom, you can leave. Also, while it sounds creepy, the staff watches on a closed circuit monitor the whole time. All you have to do is call out, and they’re right there. When we used our hints, they did that by speaker through the monitoring system. Very nice.
This was the most fun activity I’ve ever done with my teen son (seriously). Working together, seeing how our different processing methods worked, and celebrating our victories was just wonderful. We even picked up a cake on the way home to celebrate our victory! I cannot recommend it enough for families with teens and young adults.
With that said, Ellie (age 11) was young for this activity. Her brain hasn’t quite moved into the abstract thinking stage that’s needed to really solve the clues. Her natural curiosity certainly helped us out with a few key things, but I don’t think she got as much of a thrill from it as the rest of us.
Ben (18 y/o) says: I want a job there. (He does.) On a scale of 1-10, Tic Toc Escapes is a 10 — easily. It makes you think, but because you want to solve the riddles/puzzles/games and escape. The challenge is perfect for teens and parents and friends too.
Ellie (11 y/o) says: I liked that we were allowed to touch everything in the room. We were supposed to! It was fun to look for clues that matched each other, but it was really hard too.
In a rare appearance, Dad says: Great concept and the Tic Toc Escapes team is great. Loads of fun. Highly recommended to families with kids 14+.
About Tic Toc Escapes
Location: 2006 Fairview Road, Raleigh — next door to Hayes Barton Cafe.
Parking: Tic Toc Escapes is in an established Raleigh neighborhood with limited on street parking outside. Please pay attention to parking signs! (We parked about a block down the street in a residential neighborhood — no problem)
Hours: Tic Toc Escapes is open daily. Book your experience in advance at their website.
Recommended for: Girls or Guys night out, bridal showers, bachelor parties (before the beer), team building events, and family reunions.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR: Families with teens! This is hands-down the best activity for family fun we have ever done. Tic Toc Escapes is a multi-generational, family-owned business. Co-owner, Jane (Mom), says,
I love when teens play with their families. It makes me feel we are helping bridge the gap, fostering bonding and bringing joy and camaraderie to families. … Our family loved adventures when the kids were young. I am so happy to continue our adventures as adults. I wish the same for your family.
Family is the heart of this business — perhaps what sets it apart. Tic Toc Escapes is a welcome addition to Raleigh, bringing a whole new level of fun to the city.
Save 10% on your visit!
Tic Toc Escapes is offering 10% off admission for anyone who brings canned goods for the local food bank. Enter code FOODBANK when you book your escape rooms experience for automatic savings. Remember those cans when you arrive!
We were provided free admission for purposes of this review. I don’t always gush like this — as you know. Tic Toc Escapes gets my highest recommendation for family fun! (It is one of those worthwhile splurges I talk about!)