Visit a TOMB in Boston


Solve the mystery of the Pharoah's Tomb ... in Boston. Image: 5 WitsSolve the mystery of the Pharoah's Tomb ... in Boston. Image: 5 Wits

Solve the mystery of the Pharoah's Tomb … in Boston. Image: 5 Wits

I have a love-hate relationship with puzzles. Some I’m good at, others just drive me crazy. But when I was looking for some family entertainment on our recent trip to Boston, something billed as an interactive attraction for older kids, teens and adults called TOMB caught my eye. Described as a real-life version of a video game, TOMB requires you to solve hands-on puzzles as you make your way through a simulation of a pharoah’s hidden resting place. It sounded like fun, and maybe even a little educational. So we made our way over to TOMB’s location near Fenway Park and stepped inside.

TOMB — created by a company called 5 Wits, which designs exhibits and special effects for places like the Museum of Science and shows like the Blue Man Group — packs a lot of detail and thrills into a 45-minute expedition through its 2,000-square-foot space. Participants take on the role of archeologist, setting off to explore an Egyptian tomb uncovered (we’re told by our pith-helmeted guide) during the city’s Big Dig. Horror movie clichés abound, from stone walls containing special keys to the ceiling slowly moving down to crush explorers who don’t figure out the next move quickly enough.

For me, the most interesting part was getting to see and feel the realistic “artifacts” and experience the special effects up close. (Yes, they were sometimes intense, if not downright scary. Our guide said her ears were still ringing from the screams of the young birthday party guests who came through in the afternoon.) I was also impressed with the other members of our expedition. We were teamed up with four women who could barely make it into the orientation shack in their high heels, but in the end they were pretty quick to help solve some of the challenges. That was good, because working together was a big part of the experience. (Some companies use TOMB as a team-building exercise).

As for the rest of my family, the boys and their dad got a kick out of the Indiana Jones vibe and had fun with the puzzles. (I have to admit I solved one piece purely by accident.) We made it all the way through the challenge; apparently, that’s not a given. (Although if you “die,” there is a chance for resurrection.) I think we’ve added TOMB to our list of favorite urban adventures, right up there with Shed 16 Labyrinth in Montreal. (TOMB is about the effects, while Labyrinth is more of a physical challenge with a warehouse-sized maze you have to climb over, under and through to gather clues.) We’ll have to make another visit for 5 Wits’ next project, said to be a spy mystery game.

Kathy Ceceri is the author of Around the World Crafts. She is currently working on three activity books for Nomad Press.

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