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Review: Christmas is Canceled

BREAKING NEWS! Christmas has been canceled this year! Due to alarming supernatural occurrences believed to be connected to the legend of the Krampus Beast, authorities urge all residents to remain in their homes, lock your doors, block your chimneys, tuck your children in tight and beware the sound of sleighbells.

IT IS NOT SANTA CLAUS. IT’S A TRAP! I REPEAT, SANTA CLAUS IS NOT COMING THIS YEAR!

Though posted within our Reviews section, this entry will not include a Key Rating. As a team, we at Escape Authority feel the correct thing to do is disclose that I was the Creative Director of this attraction, and while I am excited to share its final results with you, our readers, I cannot officially endorse it in order to remain neutral to other games we have and will continue to review.

 

 

Each Halloween, I build an elaborate haunted attraction at my home for the neighborhood kids to enjoy while Trick-or-Treating. I call it Peachstone Scream!. For the 2016 season, we featured detailed full scale facades and, for the first time, a bonafide escape game hidden within an 8′ x 8′ room literally erected on my front lawn.

For the first time ever,
Christmas is Canceled.

But as it turns out, once you release The Krampus Beast, he’ll scratch, claw and eat as many children as necessary to never be trapped again. A mere single season was not enough to quench his abysmal appetite.  The Krampus Beast was determined to lurk the streets every single night of the year.

And just one year later, that’s exactly what he did, when Christmas is Canceled opened as a brand new, high budget, year-round permanent attraction in Myrtle Beach, SC!

The unthinkable has happened. Christmas is Canceled! Parkview Pointe has issued a state of emergency, as authorities urge the good people of Peachstone Lane to lock your doors, board up your windows and stay away from your fireplaces. That jingle’s not Kris Kringle! It’s the cold bell of death!

Yes! It’s true! Christmas has been canceled! Screams pierce the black of night as the Krampus Beast stalks the streets, snatching good little girls and boys straight from their beds to the horror of their helpless mothers and fathers.

Fire from the sky, raining down on this snowy night in a normally quiet little neighborhood. It’s the sleigh.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can now confirm the sleigh of Santa Claus himself has crashed to the ground.

HE’S GONE. SANTA CLAUS IS GONE.

MAY GOD SAVE US ALL.

 

What should be a holy night turns unholy hell – yet despite all warnings,  a mysterious new neighbor has invited the entire town to a Christmas party at his cabin. Yeah, the one at the end of the street which everyone assumed was abandoned? Is this innocent holiday cheer, or a treacherous trap?

You’re wise enough to avoid this suspicious invitation. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about your friend – you know, the one who’s always getting themselves into trouble? Well, now they’re missing.

The last you’ve heard from them was one chilling text message, sent simultaneously to each of your phones:

“The Krampus Beast is real! It’s a trap!”

Now, the only way to save them – and ultimately survive this holiday of horrors is to enter the lair of the legendary Krampus Beast himself, out think him, and prove we each deserve our spot on the “Nice” list this year!

Opening the gate to a fenced-in, snow-covered yard  reveals the old log cabin at the end of the road. Assumed to be abandoned, this house is clearly in a state of disrepair. The boards across its windows block more than just the mildew covering the glass. A clearly posted KEEP OUT sign hangs crooked on the door. What secrets does this old house hide?

Despite the state of emergency, Christmas decorations line each house of the neighborhood, with colorful lights tracing the rooftops, garland draped from the windows and festive curtains glowing from within.

Except for the old cabin. Decorations hang crudely around the abandoned house. Toy soldiers glow red while swinging from nooses in the tree. Santa’s sleigh is seen crashing off the roof, with Rudolph flying… upside-down.

Festive Christmas music can be heard from within, abruptly cutting out every five or six minutes to the startling sound of the Emergency Broadcast System giving the latest updates on the whereabouts of The Krampus Beast.

But all of that is before our adventure actually even begins.

 

Ringing the bell draws screams from within – screams that sound suspiciously like the voice of your missing friend. Before you can process the trap you’ve gotten yourself into, the cabin’s door creaks open, seemingly all on its own. You hesitantly enter, almost knowing that door is about to slam shut behind you. That doesn’t make it any less startling when it does.

Inside the cabin, authentic log-lined walls evokes a festive spirit of the season – or, they might, had they not been left to rot for years, now clearly in a state of disrepair. Oddly, despite the mildew coating every corner and crevice, the air still smells like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Now that’s not uncomfortable at all.

Christmas decorations surround you, creating an off-putting paradox for the otherwise ominous tone. Contrary to the outside, these appear freshly hung – almost as though someone – or something – was …. expecting you.

A beautiful stone fireplace lines the far wall, naturally draped with stockings and knick-knacks, oh, and your missing friend literally chained to its base. But are they a captive, or… bait?

Freeing your friend is merely the start; chained or not, you’re all still trapped inside the cabin with no evident means of escape. But, after all, it’s Christmas – and you know what they say –

 

If the Jolly Fat Man can find a way in, his path is your only hope to get out.

 

That’s right boys and girls, it’s time to climb quite literally up the chimney in hopes of getting out of this holiday hell.

Naturally though, that was always part of the trap. Once inside the fireplace, stockings line the sooty brick walls, each with one chilling name: KRAMPUS. Reaching the top offers no sanctuary, as the smell of burning grows stronger and stronger, one last stocking awaits those naughty enough to enter this festively forbidden realm: KRAMPUS WILL EAT YOU.

Suddenly a secret passage dramatically drops opens with such a thud that not a creature was peaceful, not even a mouse. Crawling through it, we find ourselves in a bizarre netherworld – an almost supernatural in-between. This is the Hub, with walls of filthy brick, lined with fireplaces linking to the home of every good little girl and boy the world over. If that’s not unsettling enough, they’re all upside down, naturally. And that’s not even touching on the fact that this dimly lit space glows only from the fire raining down above our heads through a sea of floating, equally upside down stockings.

The far wall offers a site that’s sure to put a chill in your bones colder than a blizzard: a massive ten foot tall door straight out of a medieval castle – you know, the kind one might use to keep out a dragon, or some other mystical beastlike The Krampus! Gouged horn marks in the door’s upper frame paint a terrifying picture of just how immense this beast really is. A peak through the wrought iron bars grants us a foreboding preview of things to come: the actual lair of The Krampus Beast himself!

This tall, cavernous space is lined with ice and capped with stalactites hanging down precariously over our heads, evoking the spirit of teeth waiting to bite. The only light cast across the space comes from a single Christmas Tree – cheery enough had it not been unnaturally hanging upside down. It’s red and green lights occasionally spark a shocking purple, as if some supernatural power is pulsing from its roots.

A snow man sits below the tree, yet there’s something uniquely threatening about him. Across the room, a larger than life Elf on the Shelf sits perched atop a stack of presents, seemingly watching you – and either your eyes are playing tricks on you, or he occasionally moves. And if your eyes are playing tricks, so are your ears – because this most evil of all Christmas creatures also heckles you directly by name.

The Lair of The Krampus Beast is enough to take every dream of Christmas you’ve ever had and turn them into pure nightmares. But hey, it smells like candy canes!

From the moment guests enter the old abandoned cabin – with padlocked gift in hand -everything was designed to make cohesive narrative-sense, allowing the puzzles to exist organically in the storyworld. The spirit of Christmas exists all around – but this spirit is just a bit more sinister than its traditional incarnation.

Hidden objects hang in stockings adoring the mantle of a cozy fireplace. Presents – each sealed tightly by different padlocks – circle a glowing Christmas tree. Mysteriously marked candy canes are everywhere – but how do they connect, and what secret do they hide?

As a tribute to the original Peachstone Scream! attraction, the first scene’s tasks are intentionally more low tech. This also helps create an organic believably that this is, in fact, a real world place.

 

But once up the chimney and into The Lair of the Krampus Beast, you won’t find a single padlock or code.

Everything is powered by a technical magic that brings the supernatural powers of this monster to life in a truly believable way.

From a sarcastic, wise-cracking Elf on the Shelf to a monster we affectionately refer to as “Terminator Snowman,” to an enchanted Snow-Globe-O-Matic (The World’s Finest 12 Gear Snow Globe Machine™) stolen straight from the North Pole, this eerie, icy world is full of surprises.

Naturally, each step along the way was designed to tell a story.

Players become active participants in this narrative adventure, eventually reclaiming the children’s gifts stolen by The Krampus Beast and returning them to where they belong under the tree to save Christmas, at least for this year.

Christmas is Canceled is a pure work of passion; a completely original cinematic-style tale designed and created solely by me, which has grown into a permanent attraction destined to be enjoyed by thousands moving forward.

Although this certainly is not my first game to open, it will always hold a uniquely special place in my heart knowing that this attraction did indeed start at my house.

As a tribute to the Peachstone Scream! original, there are many easter eggs throughout Christmas is Canceled that reference back its original version. The very same toy solider hanging in a noose, as well as crashing Santa sleigh and upside-down reindeer continue to form this now-permanent game’s first impression. Even the exact same type of wood was used to board up the windows in the permanent version. The calendar is full of tributes to my friends and loved ones, including mention of The Circus of Slaughter, from this year’s home haunt, The Circus is Canceled. Each toy stolen by The Krampus Beast represents a character from the Peachstone Scream! original. Even the pickle magnet is a tribute to one of our favorite regular Peachstone Scream! scareactors – “The Bitch,” who made guests watch as she ate actual pickles while checking them in for the Christmas party. Perhaps coolest of all, in The Hub, the infectious “FIND THE KEY!” dialogue was actually voiced by each scareactor who performed in Peachstone Scream’s Christmas is Canceled in 2016.

Simply put, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an experience anything like Christmas is Canceled. From its immersive narrative to its Hollywood-quality sets, everything about this cinematic adventure is steeped in passion. As with The Legend of Atlantis and Big Maw Bertha’s Fussin’ & A’ Feudin’ Moonshine Hill Hootenanny, I did not set out to design an escape game; to the contrary I aimed for something much more. From top to bottom, I designed an attraction.

And speaking of the first two games, keep an eye out for additional easter eggs providing hidden tributes to both The Legend of Atlantis and Big Maw Bertha’s Fussin’ & A’ Feudin’ Moonshine Hill Hootenanny, as well as for The Haunting at Hyde House, my fourth game currently under construction!

And although we never do find Santa Claus, and although Christmas is Canceled, its spirit will now live on forever, daring families from around the globe to sneak beyond the boarded up doors to venture into its warped holiday world every single day of the year.

 

 

Venue:  Backstage Escape Games

Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Number of Games: 2

GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 6 people

Group Type: Public  / You may be paired with strangers.

Cost: $34 per person

 

 

Christmas is Canceled is such a beautiful attraction thanks to the help of our talented scenic fabricator, Artistic Contractors, Inc. that there just wasn’t enough space in this article to include all the pictures we wanted to share. So, as a little Christmas bonus, here are a few extra! As always, be sure to click each photo to view it in its full resolution.

 

Summary
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Reviewed Item
Backstage Escape Games - Christmas is Canceled
Author Rating
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