With temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, there were few outdoor activities of interest to us. And no, I wasn't about to pursue snowboarding - followed by three consecutive days of pain - on a whim again.
Our booking had initially been made for the Burlington location, then modified to the Brampton outpost given the array of events taking place on the weekend. As the neighbourhood lacked restaurants of interest though, I proposed a mid-day meal at Yum's Kitchen before venturing northeast.
Our duo of Grilled Pork Steamed Baos were delivered first. Loaded generously into an unthinkably plush casing were marinaded, grilled meat, carrot slaw, and a few vibrant sprigs of cilantro. Tearing into the bao wrappers, I couldn't suppress my enthusiasm at its lush, satisfying texture.
Readiness of the Grilled Chicken Fresh Rolls was announced a few moments later, adopting a presentation akin to I Love Pho, but bearing a profile distinctly inferior. While I was appreciative of the sauce being less invasive than my go-to pho place of the year, its constituents were largely bland and the wrapper tough instead of tender.
In the T&T plaza, where ShareTea and BlackBall had once occupied, a new contender for bubble tea had appeared. From Hero Tea's online platform, a White Peach Oolong Milk Tea w/ tapioca and cream-topped Mountainous White Peach Tea were ordered. Both drinks were ready for pickup at the time of arrival, but I paused to peer at the new interior.
And thankfully I did, for my White Peach Oolong Milk Tea was horrendously astringent at 0% sugar, resulting in an unpleasant aftertaste on the tongue. The beverage was gladly reconstructed with boost in sugar level. Even at 30% sugar though, the tea was still on the mild end, but tapioca compensated for sweetness.
Once inside though, we realized that the situation was significantly more flexible than we had thought. Rather than adhering to our booking slot, gameplay would commence once each player "tapped in" with their player profile. The sleepy polar bear's friend was running late, so we could have waited to start. However, I was adamant that we should enter first, as there were follow-up activities afterwards.
Compared to Pursuit, there were far fewer images of Activate circulating online. From my research results, I deduced some form of activity paired with LED lights and the potential premise of an escape room (wherein players could not exit until all hurdles had been surpassed).
In actuality, Activate was a collection of rooms. There were, at a minimum, eight different types of rooms in the building, each equipped with three to six game modules for selection. Though I am uncertain as to the specific number of rooms available, there were at least three of each type.
Assuming the closest spot to the door, MegaGrid was a spacious, rectangular room fitted with a grid of LED panels beneath one's feet. In this room, we matched shapes by stepping on them, then quickly to the "safe" zone before the timer ran out. Another module had us scrambling about stepping on coloured tiles, pausing just before the timer counted down to 1 second, then continuing with a different colour. If enough points were secured, players could continue onto the next level by pressing a green flashing button. Auditory instructions were played throughout each game, in every single room.
Hide was a square-shaped room with a central pillar and buttons distributed across all four walls. There were a total of six games to played, either with numbers, letters, or colours. Racing against the clock, we were to press the buttons corresponding to numbers in ascending order, avoiding periods where the room flashed red. There were other games that involved forming words with the letters available (first three-letter words, then four-letter, then five-letter, and so on), completing word searches with letters on the walls, and running towards illuminated buttons of different colours. Personally, I found the word-forming game the most intriguing, for letters would become unavailable after each round.
Consistent across all game modules was the element of difficulty in seeing beyond the central pillar. Hide games were best played with four people, maximizing teamwork to achieve success.
As its name indicated, five hoops and an abundance of basketballs could be found in this room. Above each hoop was a different colour: royal blue, yellow, green, magenta, and red. We attempted Simon Says and Trivia. The first would involve scoring in hoops corresponding to the colour sequence played on the screen; the latter tested one's general knowledge, prompting players to score in the hoop corresponding to the correct multiple choice answer. Hoops was undeniably one of the less physically demanding rooms in the facility, but thoroughly tested brainpower and hand-eye coordination.
d with an "Under Maintenance" sign.
There was similar room filled with palm-sized, water-filled plastic balls. We played one module in this room, tossing the balls at targets as they illuminated. It felt quite similar to the clown game I frequented at Playdium, and I quickly lost interest. Furthermore, water-filled balls contributed weight and resistance, hindering speed in the process.
Equipped with a rock climbing wall - with admittedly very forgiving holds - the room provided modules for players to traverse across the wall one by one without touching the floor (speed and coordination) and a static variation of whack-a-mole, in which players would cling to the holds while touching the ones that flashed blue. This room was a true test of core control and coordination.
The sleepy polar bear's unrivalled favourite, the Cooperative room utilized lasers for both Kim Possible action and target shooting. A couple of the games utilized laser configurations, either having players jump and duck underneath them while traversing to the other side of the room, or remain within a restricted area while avoiding a singular travelling ray. The shooting games were accessed from a different door, but I was quick to dismiss repetitive attempts due to augmenting wrist pain.
A peculiar space filled with staggered walls of pipes, we were to determine the "odd one out" in terms of light configurations and thread the ball through. The format was quite confusing, so we only played one round.
Of our final module picks, I led the way to a room with a multitude of coloured LEDS. The game involved locating the exact configuration of lights between three walls. Despite being fun at Level 1, the next level immediately became challenging. Furthermore, the brilliance and close proximity of the LEDs had my eyes tiring quicker than all other rooms.
I passed by a room named Control, but it was dimmed and labelled with an "Under Maintenance" sign.
Our remaining play time could be viewed each time we tapped into a game. As we neared the final three minutes, I bolted for the photobooth. Employing a green screen, group shots could be captured on various backgrounds, then sent directly to all participants using the email they used to complete their waiver.
Attaining Level 2 earned us black water bottles. It was also thrilling to see our names reside at the top of the Facility Ranking leaderboard - mine first, of course.