The Great Escape (Room) - HBO Style!

On April 3, HBO hosted an escape room at UCLA, and I was one of the lucky people that got to go through it! The event is part of the HBO College Ambassador program, where 20 schools (including UCLA) have 2 ambassadors to help promote HBO and set up some super fun events like this one. In the past, I've been to a lot of screenings and watch parties put on by the ambassadors, and they always include free pizza and prizes (aka a great reason to go). "HBO: The Escape" went to UConn, Emory, UNC, and South by Southwest before coming to UCLA.

The maze consisted of three rooms all based on HBO’s most popular shows: Veep, Silicon Valley, and (of course) Game of Thrones. We had five minutes to solve the puzzle to escape each room, and if we didn’t, a ‘womp-womp’ sound was played on the speaker, and we had to move onto the next room and forfeit the bragging rights of successfully completing the whole thing.

Our mission started with Veep, a room perfectly decorated like Selina Meyer’s office. One of the girls in our group sat at her desk and read a “speech” into the screen, beginning our mission: we had to count the ballots to get the code for the padlocked door. Everyone frantically looked around the room, finding hidden keys and trying to figure out which ones fit where. As we searched, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ voice cracked jokes and provided hints on the loudspeaker coming from the ceiling. Some of the cabinets and drawers even contained hidden surprises: when I opened one of her desk drawers, a huge inflatable (like the ones you imagine outside a car dealership) popped out! When we finally matched the key to the ballot box, the ballots flew around like confetti, each ‘political party’ with a different number that we entered in the lock to get to the next room.

We went through a sort of cave into a completely different setting: a tech office of the Pied Piper staff. The desks were littered with food wrappers, tech devices, and several Apple computers which detailed our mission. We had to collect different ‘chips’ hidden in random places around the room, and connect them to various wires. When I connected the last one, a big button saying ‘push’ lit app, but once I pressed it, it started smoking and the power went off! Codes were revealed in blacklight, but we couldn’t enter the right one before hearing the unfortunate ‘womp-womp’ of failure.

The door opened, regardless of our inability to finish, to a snowy scene in Winterfell. Three ‘dead’ bodies laid up against the wall, and a scroll detailed our mission: large metal gears were hidden around the room (like in the theme song), and we had to recreate Westeros to crank the door open. While we looked around, one of the ‘dead’ people got up and ran out! This room took the fastest amount of time, and once we cranked the gears to open the gate, the Iron Throne awaited us.

Outside of the escape rooms, there were tons of cool giveaways, snacks, and huge games to play in the main room. They even had a TV set up playing different popular HBO shows and movies all day, and a beautiful Game of Thrones coloring book to complete while hanging out. Whether you just came to take your picture on the Iron Throne, or enjoyed the entire experience, it was impossible not to have fun at the all-day event.

To check out the promo video for a better look at the event, click here! And if you haven't seen Veep, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, or any other great HBO show (Westworld is lit, y'all), you're in luck: HBO Go is included as part of UCLA students’ campus housing package. So, if you live on the Hill, you have a great oppurtunity to catch up on all your favorite shows so you'll be ready for next season!