Escape rooms are all the rage now, with everything from TV shows to local office buildings getting in on it.
If you catch an episode of Race to Escape on Science (10 p.m. EST Saturdays), you’ll see what escape rooms are all about, but let me summarize.
You pay someone to lock you in a room for an hour.
Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Once you’re firmly locked in, the fun begins. You have one hour to figure out puzzles, combinations and more to try to get out.
Our adventure began at Can You Escape? in Tampa. My friend Karen had mentioned it, and I thought it would be a great idea for my fiance Chris’ birthday. He loved the game The Room, so I knew he’d like a real-life version even more.
The building looks abandoned and spooky, with “Escape Room” hauntingly spray-painted in a window. Not creepy at all.
The staircase leading up to the suite wasn’t much better. We wondered what we got ourselves into.
But once the door to Can You Escape? opened, we relaxed. Several nice people greeted us and began their instructions.
Basically, don’t take things off the walls. Don’t destroy anything. Nothing is behind the walls or under the floorboards.
They explained the kinds of locks we would come across, ones with keys or combinations. And after 15 minutes, if we were behind, they would start giving us hints on the TV screen in the room.
The operators monitored our activity in their control room, so they could see where we were in the puzzle process, but they couldn’t hear us.
I chose the medium difficulty, but we still needed a lot of hints, thanks mostly to us over-complicating clues that were not too difficult.
The room we were in was an office, so there was a desk and filing cabinets … and things you would find in a typical office. It was exciting for all eight of us to try to work together and figure out the clues. (But I can’t tell you any more than that, because I’m not giving anything away!)
With 4 1/2 minutes to spare, we managed to escape! It was the fastest time of the night, but I know we could do better.
Unfortunately, they only have three rooms right now, and all are virtually the same. So we can’t go back yet. They are adding a London room in late September, which will hold 2-6 people. And they’re planning a medieval room later in the year.
Cost is $28 per player (though we got a Groupon deal), and they suggest booking the entire room or risk getting put in the room with other small groups.
I highly recommend this escape room, or others popping up all over the U.S. (including in Tampa and Clearwater). It’s a lot of fun trying to solve puzzles and mysteries with friends, especially with the time crunch. Things get hectic, laughter gets hysterical and great memories get made.