What are Escape Rooms?
August 11, 2016
A great escape real-life puzzles representing an increasingly popular trend across the country.
There were only 30 seconds left on the clock when we finally found the last box. With two different locks keeping us from the satisfaction of beating the clock, my coworker Jessica Smith and I wrestled with the combination of numbers and letters that would signal completion. We had come so far — spending the last hour ransacking this room in Breckenridge, searching for clues, finding keys to the locks and combinations of numbers to open drawers and suitcases.
As the clock ticked down to the final seconds, our other cohorts began screaming at us to hurry, and we desperately turned the lock to what we thought was the correct combination.
We were in the final seconds before completing Summit County's latest entertainment option, Escape Room Breckenridge, opened by Silverthorne resident Nicolette Cusick. Rising in popularity, escape rooms are popping up around the world. Locking participants inside a room, critical thinking skills, teamwork and observation are necessary to find the clues and solve puzzles leading to "escape" before time runs out.
We finally heard the satisfying click of one lock being opened, and, as we figured out the final numbers we needed, the second lock clicked. It couldn't have been a more exciting finish, ripping open the box right as the timer hit zero. We might have been a few seconds past, but it didn't matter, the satisfaction of finishing pretty much right on the money was there. We all screamed and whooped as Cusick unlocked the door.
A growing trend
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Inspired by video games with the same concept, real-life escape rooms originated in Japan in 2007. The idea migrated to the U.S. in 2012, first in San Francisco, although most of the estimated 60 escape rooms across the U.S. have opened in the last year alone, according to an article by the Denver Post.
Cusick said escape rooms can be addictive, proven by escape room enthusiast groups, the fact that people are willing to travel to new rooms and the growing business concept.
Their popularity is growing even in the High Country. The second puzzle-themed activity to open in Summit is Frisco Escape Room, right on Main Street. Started by Ian Greene and Richard Mackoy, their first room opened is based around Summit County history.
"Summit County was really starving for an activity … a post-après activity — something else besides eating, drinking and shopping," Greene, 30, said. "We really wanted to do something that was Summit County related. We didn't want to just do any other activity, we wanted to make it a special, specific Summit County activity. We were trying to keep the mountain vibe — in fact, the colors that we have here were all picked off the historic register for the colors of the time. We are just really trying to integrate Summit County into our escape room, that's our niche. We are not just any escape room; we are a Summit County escape room."
Both the Breckenridge and Frisco escape rooms have several theme options available, from 1950s Hollywood to Summit County mining history, and they're working at creating more all the time. The best way to learn more is to just show up and give it a try.
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