Hocus-f%#&ing-pocus – Room: The Wizard’s Apothecary – December 19, 2015 – FAILED!!


Play if… you’ve fantasized about getting your Hogwart’s admission letter.

Avoid if… you think the Lord of the Rings is overrated.


Escape Room Live:

Address: 814 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 800-616-4880

The Room – The Wizard’s Apothecary:

Description (from the company website): The King’s Royal Wizard has gone missing! You, his faithful apprentices, have been summoned by the King to find him. Disturbingly, you find that the wizard has left behind his Spellbook…

Difficulty (1-10): 5/10

Time Limit: 45 minutes

Cost: $28 + tax per person but use ERGUYS15 when booking to save 15% off per ticket.

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 8-12

Staging Area: Escape Room Live Alexandria has a large, open space complete with cow skin rugs and couches with ample seating located in the middle of all the rooms, so there is plenty of space to hang out if you get there early. The requisite restrooms are in the back and the decor includes extremely wacky artwork.

Metro Access/Parking: King Street metro w/ a .7 mile walk (or take the free King Street Trolley to Columbus Street); street/garage parking.



Description of the room: You enter the wizard’s chambers nicely decorated with potion bottles, skulls, magical items, and a pedestal containing the Wizard’s spell book.

Understanding of the Mission: Find out what happened to the King’s Wizard.

Did We Escape: NO!!!

Time Remaining: *EPIC FAIL* [Wasn’t entirely that epic… -Jason]

Our Suggested Party Size: We actually had 10 because it was a special event, but we feel that was way too many, and suggest no more than 8.

Did the room challenge the entire team? No, but that’s our own fault. We overbooked the room and that left people standing around with nothing to do. We’ve learned from that mistake (we now cycle in our group of disturbed friends into the rooms).

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Jen, Brittany, Corey, Dalia, Rohan, Stephanie and Jennifer.

Team Disturbed Friends (Jen, Mike, Brittany, Jason, Corey and Rohan) failed to find the wizard! Photo courtesy of Escape Room Live's Facebook page.
Team Disturbed Friends (Jen, Mike, Brittany, Jason, Corey and Rohan) failed to find the wizard! Photo courtesy of Escape Room Live’s Facebook page.

Worth the time and money? Probably, but not on our night. *SOUR GRAPES* (however, we’re all smiling in the photo, so we didn’t have a bad time LOL).

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: It’s Old Town, but we recommend:

Our Scoring:

Overall Expectation (Summary)
I generally enjoy fantasy-related themes, so I looked forward to it, though I had no clue going in what was actually going to be in there. Sword in the stone? Trolls? Magic in general? Kinda.

Normally, we tend to heed the limit listed by the location, but this time it was for Mike’s birthday, so we invited a bunch of people and there ended up being a rag-tag bunch of 10. Which ended up being too many…

So, let’s just start off by saying that this was our second escape room EVER, and it was booked because yours truly was turning 40 and I wanted to have a unique experience to celebrate such a milestone.

I may have gone overboard in the number of friends that I invited (oops) since we booked the entire room (where you get a 10% discount) plus two additional people. The room is large, but we were a bit cramped with the number of people.

Story (Rating)
Being “off to see the wizard” is my line, and we literally didn’t know her yet!

Merlin-esque is how to describe this room. The Wizards apprentices are summoned because said wizard has gone missing, but oddly enough, his spellbook is still there (which, you know, is like blasphemy for wizards) and now we had to figure out where the hell this crazy SOB has run off to!

Please, spare me the ridiculousness and make yourself appear out of thin air!

Rating: 7/10

We’re off to see the Wizard! (wait, that’s not right… yup, that’s a different story entirely).

The King has summoned the Wizard’s apprentices because the kingdom is in trouble and needs its wizard to help it out of a jam.

However, the wizard has mysteriously disappeared, but has left behind his spell book (and no self-respecting wizard would leave his grimoire behind).

Trouble is afoot!

Rating: 8/10

Mission (Rating)
I’ma be honest: The mission to this room was…meh? I mean, ok, find out where he went. But WHY? Stupid king, figure your s&*! out on your own! Always taking magic for granted…

Honestly, though, it was boring. The whole premise was kinda lame; Escape Room Live could have done sooooooo much more with this entire theme that I just think they took the easy way out and said, “Oooh, magic; let’s just do this.”

Rating: 4/10

Pretty simple: find out what happened to the wizard before disappearing yourselves.

Now, you know what I’m looking for in a good mission: MULTIPLE OBJECTIVES, so I didn’t rate this one very high.

Rating: 5/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
This room was…interesting. Like stated earlier, too many cooks in the kitchen (is there another idiom I can use…?) made this one not as fun, so it’s partially our fault. The rest of the fault (hey, I said partially) was basically because this room was just meh.

The concept was a 4/10 (see above), but at least the puzzles were different. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were ‘magical’ (ha!) but they were thematic at least (we’ll get to that in a few sections). Considering a padlock was probably not invented in the time frame this room was supposed to have taken place, that’s obviously awesome (I hate those, have I mentioned that??), but there were things we hadn’t seem before and puzzles that actually went together at different times. I realize that sounds like a complete load of crap, but do the room and you’ll see what I mean.

Rating: 8/10

There were a lot of unique and pretty cool puzzles in this room. We just had too many people trying to solve them and tripping over each other.

I don’t recall any standard padlocks, so that’s a bonus.

There was a lot of opportunity to test our observation skills… and sometimes you couldn’t just depend on your eyes (and looks can be deceiving anyway).

Rating: 8/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
Well, tell me how you really feel. I think part of my disdain for this room was the fact that since we had so many people in the room, I couldn’t get myself really involved in any of the puzzles as I had been in the previous room we did.

Yes, the puzzles were tough, but I think I was more annoyed than anything. I’m going to give this a good rating, but I’m not going to enjoy it. >_<

Rating: 8/10

Two of the puzzles were a bit hard to figure out (we eventually solved them with the help of a few clues), but the others ranged in complexity from easy to normal. We tore through a number of the puzzles right away (and remember, this was only our second room so we didn’t have that much experience to go off).

We stumbled on the final puzzle. We solved it…just not the right way and time ran out. We only needed another 30 seconds.

I wish I had a time-turner.

Rating: 8/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
Ok, so this is about the only thing I can say I enjoyed about this particular room. I felt like I was actually in a Wizard’s apothecary in medieval times. There was a sword on the wall, archways, etc.

The room was laid out well and the entire place was decorated well and in theme. There were a few cool touches that I needn’t spoil, but needless to say there were no walkie-talkies involved…

Rating: 8/10

The decoration of the room is really well done and it was a feast for all of your senses. You truly feel as if you are in a wizard’s laboratory, and the puzzles and clues did match the theme and the mission. The props were really appropriate and you needed some of them to solve the puzzles.

I really enjoyed the unique way you needed to communicate with the Game Master to ask for a clue. That was pretty cool in a Harry Potter-esque sort of way.

It was also nice that they left a message for me to find wishing me a happy birthday.

Rating: 9/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
Eh. As mentioned, too many people, yada yada yada. Wasn’t terribly impressed with anything other than the communication system and decor. Again, too many people soured my view. More amused than fun, but then really, really pissed off that time ended as we were just about to solve the last clue.
Game Master (Summary)
If I recall correctly, the GM tried to give us a few extra seconds to try and get that last clue solved, but we still screwed the pooch.  The GM was good and tried to help us with a few clues to point us in the right direction. She seemed really sympathetic when she unlocked the room and told us that we failed (and that we were SOOOOOO close in getting that last solution resolved).
How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
Didn’t the GM just keep saying, do it again? Were we being filmed??? Sounds hokey to me!!! The earlier clues were ok, but that last one was ridiculous. The clues prior to the last one were helpful. I was frustrated on the final one because she kept giving us the same hint over and over.
Anger Level Score ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
Most of my complaints stem from the too many people aspect of our team. I get it. However, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have figured out a bunch of the clues anyway, so anything I would rate over a 0 here is negated by that fact. So…

Rating: 0/5 Fists

This was the worst. I felt stupid at the end once we saw the last little bit we didn’t do 100% correctly.

Rating: ?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️ FacePalms – 5/5


Final thought: This room would have been better had we not overbooked it and had people standing around. The puzzles, looking back, were really unique and there were a lot of cool things in this room to explore and that added to the experience. That being said, the last puzzle was a bit nit-picky, and there should have been additional instructions once you solved 95% of it.

Happy 40th birthday, Mike! One of the first acts in your 40th year birthday celebration was a huge, epic failure!

Side note: we made up for it with lots of drinks and dancing/singing at Bobby McKey’s Dueling Piano Bar (not to mention pizza!). Just take the water taxi across to National Harbor.

4 thoughts on “Hocus-f%#&ing-pocus – Room: The Wizard’s Apothecary – December 19, 2015 – FAILED!!

  1. Yup. Us, same story. The end…we were like, “Really?” So although we lost by default, we considered ourselves winners! Lol. Still had a lot of fun.

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