The #1 Rule of the Jungle: Never Walk Alone
Above all else, the Murder Maids know how to cultivate an atmosphere of fun. In Welcome to the Jungle, a group of around thirty people play as characters from various movie franchises, most notably Jumanji, to solve a themed murder mystery. From our initial email communications, to follow-ups about character assignments, to chatting in the play space afterwards, our hosts at Maid to Order Mysteries created an easy sense of play in their mysteries.
The first point of contact I had with the event after my friend Haven purchased a ticket was being invited to fill out a character quiz to receive a casting assignment. Both within the quiz itself as well as seeing the final results in the casting at the event, it felt as though people could engage as casually or intensely as they liked. The quiz had questions surrounding how you feel about lying and keeping secrets, including a “PANIC” option that cracked me up and made me feel seen. Suffice to say, I was thankfully not picked as the murderer this time around, and having a space where I could express discomfort at the idea of having to keep secrets at the event made me much more comfortable at the prospect of doing a murder mystery event. Additionally, questions asked about how much dressing up each person wanted to do and what they might be able to provide, as well as how much each person felt comfortable with and wanted to perform. In this quiz and other pre-show communications, I felt extremely welcomed by the hosts. I mentioned moving and not being sure about access to costumes when I confirmed my attendance the day before, and they quickly responded assuring me my enthusiasm would beat out any costuming needs. Khai and Lauren have an absolute talent for creating this warm, playful engagement.
After taking the quiz, seeing the final results in the casting at the event really felt like the Murder Maids took to heart every result to create a fun event for everyone. At this specific event, there were several different groups of around five people each. I was cast in the Jumanji movie group. I loved the way it gave me a group of strangers to collaborate and play with, in addition to the friends that I came in with. In solving the mystery, some groups were easy to quickly erase some suspicions from, while other characters were more difficult to clear. This was another way that I thought the mystery design did a great job catering to different forms of engagement. Some groups or characters had unique abilities (for instance, a code that let animals or animal experts talk to the prop animals), which encouraged collaboration amongst the assembled group. Occasionally, it felt uneven the amount of special abilities everyone had, but on the whole this idea felt like an enjoyable way to engage with the murder mystery.
Within the space, the production design was low budget, but communicated everything as necessary. The puzzles included discovering hints with black lights, solving for ciphers, and looking for general information clues in the murder scene. While it was always fun to solve something myself, everyone was fairly open about sharing information, so in some instances I didn’t need to do the legwork to have the information trickle back to me. During a couple of moments, I had difficulty understanding or technically accessing a puzzle element, though having a group of collaborators to work with helped these moments in either providing a sense of understanding or affirming there was nothing new to find. In considering the creation of the Jumanji world, the hosts and co-hosts als added to the sense of the space -- including a dedicated “Nigel Billingsley” NPC actor.
By the end of the event when it was time to solve the murder, our group cracked the mystery, though it did take us both of our allotted guesses to do so. When everything was explained afterwards, there were definitely some clues that everyone at the event had gotten, and a few that required keener eyes or interpretation skills. Our hosts’ dedication shone through in this walkthrough and even after the event. Talking with them afterwards, they mentioned engaging with repeat attendees and taking delight in better and better casting their events from their ticket holders.
On the whole, this Jumanji murder mystery had a joyful sense of silliness throughout, in no small part due to the talent of our hosts at creating a cohesive sense of community. As I mentioned throughout, the experience did a great job catering to different levels of engagement within a murder mystery, so I’d recommend these events for anyone interested in a light-hearted evening of fun, social mystery-solving. Since the event does necessarily require group work and not everything can be solved by one person alone, I could perhaps see a type of puzzler that wants to solve everything or do everything solo enjoying an experience like this less. But, on the whole, I would recommend these events for someone looking for a playful, enjoyable themed night-out. While each event is hosted once, the Murder Maids have different monthly mysteries and also can be commissioned to do personalized events for interested groups.
Written by Sabrina Sonner
Editor’s Note: This review was written after seeing Maid to Order Mysteries Welcome to the Jungle event in March. For information about their company and upcoming events, check out their website: https://www.maidtoordermysteries.com/.