Perhaps you recall Escape Authority taking a bit of a pause at the start of early 2018. During that time, I found myself on an extended business trip to Los Angeles, upon the conclusion of which we teased there was something exciting in the works that couldn’t yet be revealed thanks to Non-Disclosure Agreements and the like. One full year, a whole lot of design development and some full scale construction have passed since that day.
And now it’s time to share something very, very exciting with the world.
But before we get to the what, let’s talk about the who. I was brought to Los Angeles on behalf of Legacy Entertainment. While their branding has evolved over the years, their core team and dedication to ground breaking attractions has not. You may not recognize the name at first glance, but there’s simply no question that you’re familiar with – and likely have personally experienced something they’ve created. This is the team behind such utterly ground-breaking benchmarks as Star Trek: The Experience formerly in Las Vegas – one of the most immersive rides ever created, the iconic Jurassic Park: The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and a little genre-redefining 4D motion-based attraction you may have heard of called The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Simply put, when it comes to theme park design, there’s probably no bigger independent company than this one.
So, with an established design portfolio like that, where do I come in? Well, this is where things truly get humbling. “Immersive and Interactive Attraction Expert.” Hey, I don’t pick the titles. Although I also don’t fight them too hard either.
A few break-through pitches turned what would be three days of consulting into a two plus month Concept Design phase which ultimately landed me in Jakarta, Indonesia to pitch a major new theme park attraction to the Chairman of CT Corp – a mega conglomerate of successful business brands including everything from restaurants, retail stores, entire malls, hotels, television production (including the actual CNN Indonesia) and literally dozens of indoor mini-theme parks – some of which aren’t even so mini – under the umbrella of Trans Studio. That pitch was a total home run.
In it was more than just a single attraction; in fact there were two full scale dark rides presented, but also overall designs for two new entire Trans Studio theme parks – one opening in Bali and one in Cibubur, which is on the outskirts of Indonesia’s capital. Each are set to include a dark ride that would be unique and offer something never before done in the industry. Today we’ll discuss just one of them – and in fact, it’s not even the ride my team would head up – although what makes it truly interesting to you, our readers, is its preshow.
I think we all probably know what a preshow is in theme park speak – something that sets up the story of the main ride itself. In some already existing cases, they may be a bit less than compelling, often prompting a sense of “can’t we just get to the ride already?!” In others, they are in themselves iconic moments that will be forever entrenched in our memories. Star Trek: The Experience’s teleporter scene will forever be one of the biggest “wow moment” effects in our industry. And looking back further, there’s not a single person in the world who doesn’t have fond memories of watching the Portrait Gallery mysteriously metamorphosize right before your very eyes in Disneyland’s legendary Haunted Mansion. It’s been almost exactly fifty years since that attraction first opened its doors, and to this day five decades later people still find themselves asking if “this haunted room [is] actually stretching, or is it your imagination, hmm?”
When it was decided that Trans Studio Bali’s Road Rage attraction, set in a post-apocalyptic world full of high paced action adventure, would have a preshow, our team knew it simply had to be something completely different. Have you ever had one of those out of body experiences where you hear yourself say something, and even wonder where it came from? “…what if the preshow was… an escape game?”
It took about ten seconds for a crazy “what if” to captivate the entire team, and minutes later, logistical planning began on just how that could pan out for the very first time in the history of our industry, inside the gates of a major theme park, included for every single guest as a part of the attraction’s experience. Lots of very valid questions would come up – for example “What about people who want to ride again? Won’t they be bored solving the same puzzles they already know the answer to?” Well, “…what if the preshow was… seven different escape games?” Not only did we solve the perceived problem of repeatability, but we actually created a scenario that inspires it! Now, guests will need to visit seven different times to challenge their wits against all of the unique puzzle types!
Of course, it goes without saying that when you’re designing a preshow for an attraction, the end goal will always be to get riders to the load platform and onto the vehicles. You can’t ever “starve the station,” a term which means leave it empty while things back up in the queue or preshow rooms. That would have a direct negative impact on the attraction’s operational hourly ride capacity, which, in short, is never good news. As such, small teams of up to six (as determined by the ride vehicle’s seating capacity) will find themselves locked in a jail cell with a single puzzle that leads to a hidden passageway escape route. They absolutely will need to solve that puzzle in order to make it to the ride itself – but for those inexperienced or unfamiliar with the genre, an actor portraying a sympathetic prison guard will be pacing above each cell on a catwalk ready to offer guidance if needed. And while I’m obviously not going to reveal what the puzzles themselves are – I’ll tell you this – all of them are entirely tech driven and self-resettable. Don’t expect to find a single numerical combination or padlock here.
From there, the action is only just beginning for would-be prisoners who manage to find escape from their cells. Road Rage is the World’s First Stunt Show Dark Ride! This 4D, motion-based, physically traveling vehicle will make its way through a dangerous world of anarchy and ruin, encountering physical effects, 3D elements, and for the first time anywhere, actual, live human stunt actors who at times may leap quite literally within inches of your passing ride vehicle. Road Rage takes existing 4D dark rides and cranks the volume up to eleven.
And although we realize that Bali may be a bit of a hike for many of you to visit, understand the industry-wide implications Road Rage will have, creating a ripple effect across the theme park world where suddenly it’s factually proven that escape games can be even more main stream. When it opens later in 2019, Road Rage will introduce a whole new audience to just what an escape game is, while simultaneously establishing precedent that factually counters the long-standing argument with a resounding “Yes, permanent escape games inside major theme parks can work.”
I’m incredibly proud to be responsible for the spark of what would become a world’s first concept, pairing escape games and theme parks in a way previously thought to be impossible. From the start of Escape Authority, my goal has always been to further this industry that I’m deeply passionate about, that I genuinely believe in and that I truly think can grow to become something even bigger. Road Rage kicks that goal into high gear, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a talented team of industry professionals and peers at Legacy Entertainment to help bring it to life.
In the near future, we’re excited to be able to reveal another world’s first attraction – this one for Trans Studio Action Zone in Cibubur – mixing escape game-esque elements with immersive theater in a way never before imagined – all tied together under the bow of a three quarter of a billion dollar blockbuster IP known the world over. We’ll leave you wondering for just a bit longer what that might be as we race out of Road Rage’s post-apocalyptic world – but as for today, we are cancelling the apocalypse.