by Spencer Bollettieri, freelance writer for Theme Park Magazine
The future’s fate lies in the past, as Doc Brown seeks intrepid time travelers to save it at Universal’s Great Movie Escape. Back to the Future: OUTATIME, a follow-up to the beloved ride, is one of two escape rooms at Universal Orlando Resort. However, this goes beyond a typical experience; it’s an interactive adventure where perseverance is recognized, innovation becomes rewarded, and iconic films come alive.
Opening its doors in 2022 and located at Universal Citywalk, Universal’s Great Movie Escape is a story-driven attraction where guests star in their own cinematic scenarios based on classic films from Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Debuting with Jurassic World: Escape and Back to the Future: OUTATIME, teams of up to 8 players are invited to work together to solve puzzles, find clues, as well as rise to the occasion when the chips are down and time is running out. Although both differ in challenges, difficulties, and outcomes based on the players’ performance, all of Universal’s escape rooms value themselves on story and theming, creating interactive experiences that act as family-friendly excursions.
A Glance at The Lobby: Setting the Scene for Adventure
Upon entering Universal’s Great Movie Escape, guests will immediately immerse themselves in the exquisitely detailed lobby, reminiscent of a movie palace from the golden age of cinema. Upon check-in, they are surrounded on all sides by props, costumes, and murals inspired by the escape rooms that await them. Notable exhibits include Henry Wu’s lab coat, standing at attention beside a nest of freshly collected dinosaur eggs, and Doc Brown’s lab coat amidst a chaotic cluster of past inventions. The waiting area sets the mood for guests and provides ample photo opportunities, creating an atmosphere of theatrical extravagance that precedes the upcoming adventure.
Awaiting Your Adventure: Conveniences and Amusements in the Waiting Area
As guests wait, Universal’s Great Movie Escape provides plenty of amenities for their entertainment and convenience. A small gift shop by the counter offers exclusive branded merchandise such as T-shirts, drawstring bags, and various trinkets. Additionally, Universal provides lockers for rent, should they be needed, allowing guests to enter their escape rooms without any hindrance. However, the highlight of the waiting area is the bars, where guests can indulge in a selection of cocktails, mocktails, and other themed drinks. Serving vibrant concoctions such as the Hoverboard Highball, the Raptor Bite, and the iconic Wake Up Juice from Back to the Future Part III, guests can enjoy these colorful creations before or after their excursions.
When groups are ready for their appointment, a small theater welcomes them, where etiquette, rules, and guidelines are presented and explained. Simple to follow and easy to understand, Universal’s Great Movie Escape addresses all concerns and lets people know what to expect inside each attraction. While necessary to view before embarking, it isn’t long until guests arrive at their respectively reserved rooms, and the fun can begin.
Back to the Future: OUTATIME – A Time-Travelling Adventure
Back to the Future: OUTATIME is a sequel to the beloved Back to the Future: The Ride, which closed in 2007. Through the doors of the escape room, visitors suddenly arrive in 1993, where Doc Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) and his assistant greet them at the Institute of Future Technology. However, it becomes evident that something has gone awry when Biff Tannen returns to alter history once again. With Doc confined in a time chamber for his own protection and his assistant monitoring from the basement, guests become entrusted with a prototype portable time machine. This remarkable device allows teams to travel through history and memorable moments within the Back to the Future films. With time now on their side and Biff on the loose, visitors must fix the timeline and save the future from Tannen’s tampering.
Venturing to iconic locations such as Doc’s lab in the Old West, the Cafe ’80s, Biff’s Casino, and the legendary clocktower during the fateful Hill Valley lightning storm, teams face a series of puzzles throughout their journey. While these challenges can be demanding, the Institute of Future Technology provides participants with valuable clues regardless of the situation. Additionally, whether teams succeed or fall short in each room, there is always a reward for their diligent efforts. Those who demonstrate quick thinking and uncover hidden details unlock more of the plot and a higher score, showcasing an innovative game mechanic. Meanwhile, even those who encounter difficulties will find aspects to appreciate in the theming, story, and settings. Furthermore, regardless of performance, staff give constructive feedback to teams at the end of each encounter should they return to try again and, of course, offer to snap pictures in the lobby to commemorate the occasion.
No matter the outcome, every room offers highly-themed entertainment and the opportunity to embark on an elaborate adventure. Back to the Future: OUTATIME tends to appeal to older guests, while Jurassic World: Escape is a favorite among families due to its theming. To make the most of both experiences at Universal’s Great Movie Escape, teams of three or more work best, allowing them to tackle each task more efficiently. Overall, however, the key to the escape rooms is communication, cooperation, and above all else, enjoying the experience; because, past, present, or future, Universal encourages everyone to have the time of their lives.
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Feature image and all other images courtesy of ©NBCUniversal.
About Spencer Bollettieri: As a biologist, journalist, and writer, Spencer Bollettieri has written for sites such as Screen Rant. Although mostly based out of New York, he’s traveled the world in pursuit of new stories.