Theme Park Challenges Guests to Escape: Haw Par Villa’s New Crowd-pleaser

By Vincent Tan

Feature image belongs to William Cho 

When your classmate mysteriously faints during a class trip, a clairvoyant old woman reveals that he has been abducted by Ox-Head and Horse-Face and taken into the underworld. You and your teammates will now have to solve puzzles and navigate a creepy nightmarish park in time to save your friend from drinking the tea of amnesia and being reincarnated.

This isn’t your typical Left for Dead plot – it’s something more physical. Called “Journey to the End and Back”, it’s Haw Par Villa’s new crowd-pleaser for younger visitors: a large scale outdoor escape game stretching across one-third of the park. Tickets have been selling fast, especially since it promises spirits, death and reincarnation.

With a legacy that extends from the Tiger Balm brothers through World War II, Haw Par Villa was never a cool place to hang out with your mates despite the cool dioramas of hell, and it struggled to attract visitors.

However the first escape game session on 14 May saw nothing of the sort. 200 people showed up in spite of the rain to journey through iconic locations like the Ten Courts of Hell and the Hua Song Pavilions, solving clues against the backdrop of Haw Par Villa’s famously creepy landscape.

Participants have given the game positive reviews, calling it “decently challenging”, and a groundswell of interest has gobbled up all tickets for the second session on 21 May too.

For those still wanting to test their wits in the Chinese underworld, the organiser has floated two future dates (11th and 18th of June) on its Facebook page. Comments so far have been nothing short of enthusiastic.