Haw Par Villa launches adventure game to attract young visitors

Game masters steer the escape game at Haw Par Villa (above).
Game masters steer the escape game at Haw Par Villa (above). PHOTOS: VENCEL GYULAI
Participants deciphering clues at last Saturday's game.
Participants deciphering clues at last Saturday's game.PHOTOS: VENCEL GYULAI

Escape game held into the night to draw the young to the iconic but quiet theme park

The once popular Haw Par Villa received a shot in the arm last Saturday when about 200 people turned up at the 79-year-old theme park in Pasir Panjang to take part in a large-scale escape game.

The outdoor adventure game is among the first initiatives the park's new operator Journeys is rolling out to attract a new and younger audience. A second round of games will be held this Saturday.

The park operator is also keen to extend the attraction's opening hours beyond 7pm and the escape game event marks its first move to do so. Lights were installed in parts of the park for the games to carry on until 10pm.

The event is organised in partnership with escape game operator Lockdown Singapore. Four hour- long games were held throughout the day with each game accommodating up to 10 teams of six people.

Ms Savita Kashyap, 51, executive director of Journeys, says it chose to host the escape game event because such games are popular with young people.

She says: "The collaboration with Lockdown is an experiment to introduce other programmes and activities in the park that will engage the public, especially those of the younger generation.

  • BOOK IT / JOURNEY TO THE END AND BACK

  • WHERE: Haw Par Villa, 262 Pasir Panjang Road

    WHEN: Saturday, five time slots at 11.45am, 1.30, 3.15, 5 and 7pm

    ADMISSION: $25 a person or $150 for a group of six from hawpar210516.peatix.com

"Through this educational and entertaining event, we hope they will reconnect with an iconic Singaporean treasure while being immersed in an experience that relates to them."

To draw visitors to the park, Journeys has also recently rolled out three-hour tours every Friday. The tour is priced at $38 for an adult and $18 for a child.

The escape game, titled Journey To The End And Back, is set around the plot of a school excursion that goes awry. The teams have to use the clues provided to navigate the course of the game and solve puzzles to save a friend who has fainted.

The game takes participants through sections of the 3.2ha park, which is filled with quirky statues and scenes from Chinese legends and literary classics such as Journey To The West.

The game zone covers about a third of the park's area, including the Ten Courts Of Hell and the Hua Song Pavilions. Regular park visitors are allowed into the game zone when a game is in session.

Lockdown's director Jonathan Ye, 32, says the company approached Haw Par Villa in August last year to host the game because the place is full of stories and rich tableaus.

He says: "We wanted to make use of a place that already has a rich history, as well as one that people don't visit as often and may not be as familiar with. Haw Par Villa fit that criteria."

Escape game enthusiast Yong Zhiyi, 24, was among those who showed up for the game despite the downpour last Saturday afternoon.

Organisers had prepared umbrellas, but most participants still got soaked.

It was Mr Yong's first visit to the park. He says: "If not for the game, I would not have come here."

He adds: "The game was decently challenging and I would do it again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline 'Escape in a game at Haw Par Villa'. Print Edition | Subscribe