Over Thanksgiving Weekend we visited Decode Detroit’s Ann Arbor location to travel Around the World in 80 Days. Decode Detroit has been voted a top 10 escape room in the USA by the readers of USA Today.
About Around the World in 80 Days
From Decode Detroit’s description of. the journey:
Join your pilot, Milo, on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to iconic destinations around the world. Will you make it back within 80 days and earn the title of a true adventurer?
Constructed over two years in a formerly abandoned warehouse, this massive >1000 square foot adventure is almost twice the size of any game before it.Decode Detroit Website
In the adventure, you are challenged to solve puzzles to cut short the length of your trip to make it in 80 days. There are also challenges to earn souvenirs through the trip. The goal is to complete the trip in less than 80 days and earn as much money in souvenirs as you can.
Our Experience At Around the World in 80 Days
Our family of 3, met up with friends – a family of 4. We had 4 adults, a college student, and two high school juniors. We were greeted in the lobby, able to hang our coats and personal items – the building is locked during your adventure with no other guests. Then we got an introduction to the journey, took our pre-journey photo, and started the adventure.
As we progressed through the destinations, we split into groups of 2-3 to maximize the number of puzzles we could solve. In each destination we set at least 1 or 2 groups to work on the time puzzle with other groups solving puzzles for treasure.
Our stops included Paris, India, Fiji, and San Francisco. Unlike traditional escape rooms where you need to solve a puzzle to open the door to the next room or final door, this journey told us when it was time to depart each destination and we had completed whatever we completed.
In the end we made it around the world in 80 days. We only missed one of the puzzles for time (each destination had 4 puzzles for time) and two for treasure – and we were seconds away from having one of those.
The journey has dynamic difficulty allowing them to adjust to account for groups of different size and skill levels which makes it easier to be successful. For example, we were taking a lot of time off, so we were blown of course adding time back to our journey.
Visiting Decode Ann Arbor
Location: 3170 Packard Rd, Ann Arbor
Price: $33/person, 6 person minimum
We recommend booking your Decode Ann Arbor experience in advance as popular time slots can sell out. Online bookings are available.
COVID-19 Safety Protocols at Decode Ann Arbor
They are taking several COVID precautions:
- All games are private for your group of up to 8 people. (6 ticket minimum purchase)
- Staff members are all fully vaccinated and will wear masks
- Upon arrival, all of the adults had to scan a QR code to fill out a health survey and disclaimer.
- HEPA filters throughout the building
- Reservations are fully refundable until 24 hours before your game
Other Games at Decode Ann Arbor
Currently, Decode Ann Arbor only has Around the World in 80 Days operating. They are introducing a mini game for a smaller group later in 2022.
Their Drive-in Escape Room is currently off-line and being upgraded to a new version.
Decode Detroit has a second location in Ypsilanti where they run The Aurora Society which we did in Fall 2021 – an escape room for 3-15 people. They also have The Library, a small team puzzle game for 1-4 players. We have not yet done The Library, but are considering it as a family of 3.
Previous Decode Adventures
In the past, the offered The Minerva Project at their original Ann Arbor location on Packard just east of Carpenter Rd. The Minerva Project was an Artificial Intelligence themed experience that is split into 3 parts. The first and third parts take place in the building while the second was a series of walking tours in downtown Ann Arbor.
We first visited Decode Detroit’s Ann Arbor location at Thanksgiving 2018 for part one of the Minerva Project. Our group of 3 families had 6 adults and 4 kids ranging from 7th=10th grade. We were able to work together and escape the room.
The second part of the Minerva project was in Downtown Ann Arbor with 3 or 4 mystery trails to follow at various businesses in downtown. We met up with one of the other families we started with and completed all of the trails in one afternoon in May 2019.
We returned at Thanksgiving 2019 to complete the third part of the Minerva Project with one other family.
Other Area Escape Rooms
In addition to Decode, there are a couple of other escape rooms in Ann Arbor. I have not personally been to the others, but my teen daughter has been to several other escape rooms in Ann Arbor.
Each of these Escape Rooms has multiple themed rooms. Over the last couple of years, my daughter has done several rooms at both Clueless and Breakout.
By far, Decode Ypsilanti has the best location being right downtown. It has plenty of dining and shopping locations nearby.
Escape and Puzzle Rooms at Home
Of course, you can’t always make it out to an Escape Room. In the last few years we have done a number of both escape and puzzle games at home. These are some of our favorites.
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Finders Seekers Subscription Boxes
In 2021 we did a subscription to Finders Seekers Boxes through Cratejoy.
Finders Seekers Mysteries
Each month you receive a box with a mystery to solve in a different destination around the world. We started with the US National Parks. Other destinations included Chicago, Ireland, Washington DC, St Petersburg, and more. Each month’s box includes various puzzles and a “souvenir” that helps you solve mysteries at various locations in the destination.
We really enjoyed our boxes, but our lives got too busy to do one each month. They were perfect for our family of 3 (our daughter was 15 when we had the subscription). We do recommend it for a smaller family. Kids as young as 8-10 will be able to solve some puzzles. But, we recommend the box for families with teens.
Sherlock Holmes Games
For Christmas 2021, I was intrigued by Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Regulars at Vault of Midnight. The box has 10 mysteries that you will help Sherlock Holmes solve by traveling through London and talking to people at various locations.
We have only found time to play about half of the mysteries in the box and can’t wait to finish the rest. These are definitely more challenging than other mysteries we have solved. There are usually a couple layers of mystery that provide red herrings to the central mystery, but are also interesting to solve.
Of the individual box games we like the Exit series the best of the ones we have tried. Note: these are one-time use games as many materials are destroyed to solve the game.
There are two types of boxes – those where you are trying to “escape” and those where you are trying to solve a mystery. Our recommendation is to look for the difficulty level and start with a lower difficulty. We went from a 2 to a 4 difficulty and it was quite a bit more challenging. Don’t worry if you get stuck. There are hints available for each mystery.