Hold On To Your Butts, Universal’s Latest Back To The Future And Jurassic World Attraction Is A Wild Experience

outside of Universal's Great Movie Escape at CityWalk.
(Image credit: Jessica Rawden)

Whether your kiddos love Owen Grady and Blue or you and your pals want a hit of nostalgia, Universal Orlando recently crafted a brand new, family-friendly experience smack dab in the middle of CityWalk. Opening this weekend, Universal's Great Movie Escape is filling up reservations fast. There’s a dino-sized reason the experience is already proving popular: Though it’s like an escape room, it’s not wholly an escape room at all. 

Universal Orlando’s Latest Attraction Is An Escape Adventure NOT An Escape Room 

A phrase I heard touted repeatedly during my time trying out Universal’s Great Movie Escape is that the creative team views it as an Escape Adventure and not an escape room. I heard it from VP TJ Mannarino. I heard it from show director Nate Stevenson. It's certainly a wild experience...

But what does it mean? Well you aren’t escaping in the traditional way. Instead you are in a storyline as if you are a character in your own movie and the goal is to save the day and solve the puzzles leading to a big climax. I like that it's less stressful in some ways than a regular escape room, though your mileage may vary there. 

Solving puzzles to achieve an end goal is the part that is similar to a regular escape room, but the major difference is you won’t ever have to do that walk of shame that occasionally happens when the time runs out before you’ve won the game. You also won’t need to ask for help or “clues” in the same way you might a regular escape room. 

Instead the puzzles are designed in such a way that not only can myriad people with myriad skill sets and levels of escape room expertise participate, but it’s also tailor-made for your group. The experiences are different every. single. time. (more on that with our Great Movie Escape guide) and if you are doing well with a puzzle, you’ll get a harder puzzle. If you’re doing poorly with a puzzle, you’ll get an easier puzzle. But don’t take it from me, take it from Nate Stevenson, who explained the goals of the attraction in an interview with CinemaBlend. 

We wanted to make sure the experience was fun for everyone, so people who have never done an escape room before all the way up to people who have done hundreds of escape rooms…Not only does it adjust to like the size of groups and things like that but it also adjusts to your level of gameplay, so if you are starting into a challenge and you’re doing really well at it, we’ll give you more challenges and more challenges to open up more parts of the story. But if you’re not really into the challenges, then you’ll maybe just get one little piece of the story. And we wanted everyone to feel successful and still be able to enjoy.

Stevenson also explained there are build-ins within the story -- my group experienced this once. OK maybe twice -- where they can also move groups along if a particular challenge is going on for too long, allowing everyone to experience the "next level" storyline in their own way while keeping groups moving. It helps you won’t ever leave with disappointed kids, too. 

Universal's Jurassic World: Escape adventure.

(Image credit: Jessica Rawden)

What To Expect From Jurassic World: Escape

Jurassic World: Escape will have families and other groups feeding dinosaurs, saving dinosaur embryos and ultimately escaping a doomed complex during a dinosaur takeover. If some of that sounds familiar, it's by design. This storyline has a slew of high-octane, thrilling elements and even a jump scare!

If you have kids who are a little frightened by the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies this does have some of the same feel and elements, so I would keep that in mind. However, there were also several tasks a really young kid could do on our journey. I played that role once and helped crank electricity while the other adults did the heavy mental lifting. So there really is something for everyone to do.  

To me, the puzzles in this room and the theme in general felt super geared toward families (though fun for all ages) in a way the other room might not. I only say that because Back to the Future hits really hard on the nostalgia factor and I think kids who do Jurassic World will likely enjoy the dino elements and being really familiar with the theme, though if they are going where they don't need roads, there is plenty for them to do in the other adventure, as well. 

Back to the Future escape room.

(Image credit: Jessica Rawden)

What To Expect From Back to the Future: OUTATIME

Spanning the Back To The Future canon, “OUTATIME” should be a blast, blast blast for any Back to the Future fans. I have never seen a grown man get so excited about an experience like this, fully geeking out over getting to be the keeper of one of the more tactile components our group carried throughout our journey. Plus, there were so many fun Easter eggs for fans I don’t want to begin to spoil. The puzzles in this one felt a little more challenging to me than in the Jurassic World room, but that could simply be because they were less tactical than the other room’s puzzles and a little less in my wheelhouse. 

Meanwhile, one cool thing I can spoil about “OUTATIME” is its major cameo, and Nate Stevenson shared with us a little more about how they got to work with the movie studio side of things including Bob Gale (whose spoken in the past about why Back to the Future is still relevant),  and even landed one major cameo: 

We worked with Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment. We worked directly with the filmmakers, Bob Gale. Everyone kind of looked at the scripts. Everybody looked at what we were doing, looked at the scenic and we made sure everything was exactly right. That was really cool. The legend Christopher Lloyd came back and reprised his role as Doc Brown for us. So we got to actually work with Christopher Lloyd too. So, we really pushed for authenticity and the filmmakers and our own Universal group really helped us do that.

While Universal Orlando has been crushing it with park attendance of late, the experience is available in CityWalk and is a nice addition to some of the food and nightlife options available outside of Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. If you’re on the fence about doing this, Stevenson did say there’s one major takeaway he hopes sticks with everyone thinking about trying out Universal's Great Movie Escape.

Even if you don’t like escape rooms, come, because you’re going to have fun, if you have kids, bring them, they’re going to have something to do in every room.

Then afterward, maybe stay for an adult beverage and relax.

Raptor Bite and Grand Banks Swizzle at Great Movie Escape.

(Image credit: Jessica Rawden)

Know Before You Go To Universal's Great Movie Escape:

  • Universal’s Great Movie Escape is not an “included attraction,” instead costing $49.99 pp plus tax. If you have a small group, you may be paired with another group or groups. You won't need a theme park ticket to experience the escape room, however.
  • Groups embark on journeys four times an hour and those time slots can be booked online at UniversalOrlando.com (Note: slots are already filling up around the holidays.)
  • Private rooms can be booked for up to groups of 8; there is a discount to the base price if you have a large group and opt for a private experience. Private rooms can be booked by calling this number: (407) 224-8463
  • Each of the two storylines has eight rooms with multiple possible puzzle combinations. You’ll never have the same experience twice, so it really is repeatable.
  • Each Escape Adventure lasts about an hour, though time spent in each of the eight rooms will vary.
  • There’s a bar with themed cocktails in the building, and you can go and enjoy the vibes whether or not you are doing the Great Movie Escape. (Pictured above: A Raptor Bite and a Grand Banks Swizzle.) 
Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.