Escape Space: Sawbridgeworth escape room's game A Magical Disappearance is a challenge for all the family
A husband and wife have waved their magic wand to create a new escape room in Sawbridgeworth suitable for the whole family.
Antony and Carly White launched Escape Space at The Maltings in late November with their game A Magical Disappearance.
Players enter Professor Ragwort's office and have an hour to find clues and solve puzzles to help him escape from a painting he has got himself trapped inside.
It is the first escape room the couple have created, but they are no strangers to immersive events. They run Brightworth's School of Magic at Hedingham Castle around Hallowe'en and produced zombie-themed live-action event The Last Survivors at Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker.
"We started doing escape rooms and loved them. We've done all the local ones and a couple up and down the country, and we thought a magical one with a Brightworth's theme would be fun to do," said Carly.
"We wanted to make it family friendly because a lot of other escape rooms are for over-13s and with more adult themes, like serial killer ones. We wanted one you could bring young children to if you wanted – even if they're not participating, they can potter around and feel like they're helping.
"It's very twinkly and pretty and we feel like it's a magical room. We do all of our own designs and we like to make it really immersive in the room.
"For example, we made up all of the potion bottles by hand and they've got different labels on. We really wanted to have a lot of detail in the room, even though it's quite small.
"When you're in there, you really are in the professor's office and you really are trying to get him out of a painting. It was important to us to make it so immersive."
Carly, 35, and former Bishop's Stortford College student Antony, 33, live in Sheering with their three-year-old son Finn, who goes to Howe Green House School's Little Oaks Nursery in Great Hallingbury.
Antony is a graphic designer, which means they can keep things in house when it comes to photography, design and the website.
The room can be tackled by up to five adults at a time or six people if there is a mix of adults and children.
Carly and Antony take on the role of games master when teams take on the challenge, with three clues available if they get stuck.
"Everyone usually ends up using all of their clues, but they do get out, which is the fun part," said Carly. "We've had a few people who haven't made it out, but they still enjoyed it and nearly made it out.
"It's challenging, but not impossible, and all of the puzzles are good fun. Most people come together as a team. Everyone looks at things differently and it's nice to see how people communicate with each other."
The couple are already looking into opening another – but scarier – escape room to expand their business.
"We built the room, but it was a lot harder than we anticipated to build and to fit all of the clues together," said Carly. "We've done it and we definitely want to do another one. It will be more of an adult, scarier one."
* Escape Space is at Unit F12, The Maltings, Sawbridgeworth. Go to escapespace.co.uk to find out more and to book to play A Magical Disappearance.