The Apprentice Virtual Escape Rooms and Tomb Raider

UK’s The Apprentice Features Escape Rooms, Virtual and Real

by Theme Park Magazine

Escape rooms have rapidly evolved into a global phenomenon, captivating thousands of enthusiasts worldwide with their immersive, thought-provoking themed experiences. These interactive experiences have even made their way into theme park resorts, such as Universal Studios Resort, highlighting their widespread appeal.

In season 18, episode 3 of BBC’s “The Apprentice,” which aired February 15, 2024, contestants were challenged to design a virtual reality escape room experience. The stakes were high, as the victors would experience Tomb Raider: The Live Experience while the losers would have someone fired from their team.

Two real-life escape rooms were shown in the episode. Halfway through the episode, Gates of Hell escape room run by No Escape, Victoria, was shown as candidates tested their concepts on the public. Later, the winning team got to experience Tomb Raider: The Live Experience adventure escape room in Camden, London.

Both escape rooms have one thing in common: each was crafted by Dead Walk Designs, a UK-based company known for its themed entertainment set designs. Theme Park Magazine featured the work of Dead Walk Designs last summer.

“It was great to see our work on the show,” Shaun Davies, Managing Director of Dead Walk Designs, tells Theme Park Magazine. “We were particularly chuffed to see two independent projects shown on the episode.”

The Apprentice: Virtual Escape Rooms Recap

Lord Sugar challenged the candidates to tap into the booming virtual reality industry: design a brand-new virtual escape room experience and market it directly to corporate buyers and individual consumers. This task required a unique blend of creativity, technical understanding, and salesmanship. Two teams competed in the challenge: Team Nexus and Team Supreme.

Team Nexus decided on a medieval adventure. The mayor of a medieval city tasked players with finding ingredients to cure the plague that had spread through the town. Time was of the essence.

Team Supreme went with a game where players crash land on an island with an old military base and must make discoveries to get off the island, while avoiding three pesky bears.

In the boardroom, Nexus received praise for its immersive medieval experience. On the other hand, Supreme faced harsh criticism for their disjointed concept and underwhelming execution, resulting in a player from Team Supreme being eliminated.

Gates of Hell Escape Room

The Gates of Hell Escape Room was quite the challenge for Dead Walk Designs as the company had only five weeks to complete the project in time for Halloween in 2022. Designed for No Escape, Victoria, Dead Walk Designs had to put many skilled work into the project, including 3D printing, building sculptures, electronics, mechanics, scenic painting, molds, prop making, carpentry, murals & sign writing. It was featured as a background element in The Apprentice as contestants showed their work to the public.

Tomb Raider: The Live Experience

Tomb Raider: The Live Experience, which the Nexus experienced for winning the challenge, is an immersive, interactive adventure set in the world of the iconic video game series. It’s like an escape room on steroids.

In January 2022, Dead Walk Designs, MDM Create, and MDM Props were commissioned by Little Lion Entertainment to create an exciting venture: Tomb Raider: The Live Experience, a new experience that goes way beyond the typical escape room into a full-blown adventure. Dead Walk Designs assisted MDM Create, the design team, with 3D set designs and space layouts, and MDM Props built the attraction. The result was an immersive theatre adventure that merges the thrill of escape rooms with the challenges of an obstacle course.

Set within various thematic locations inspired by the latest Tomb Raider video game series, the experience was designed with intricately planned games courtesy of MDM Create and Little Lion Entertainment. Integrating these elements into cohesive, engaging environments was challenging and exhilarating for the team.

Following the conceptual phase, MDM Create proceeded to construct the attraction.

Designing Winning Escape Rooms

When designing an escape room, Davies says that the immersive nature of the attraction is key.

“When designing an Escape room, it is important to create an environment which puts the player deep into the story, which we feel is achieved with quality theming, well thought out games and theatrical effects,” says Davies.

This dedication to immersive storytelling and detailed design elevates the escape room experience and underscores the creative and technical expertise required to captivate participants, making escape rooms a cherished form of entertainment worldwide.


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