What were we thinking? The ruins of the mansion reputedly held dark secrets overshadowed by an unseen presence, and there I was with Becca, my sister Lisa, my brother-in-law Mike and my nephew Michael standing at the locked front door, searching for a way in.
The South Carolina October night was crisp. To our right, we noticed a mail drop box while, to our left, a locked birdcage held several toy black birds.
But wait. The front door had a small window. Maybe we could see something inside—
That — more or less — was how I began my first experience with an escape room.
What a concept: you pay to be “locked up” in a confined area where you have a specific amount of time to figure out clues that lead to more clues that eventually lead you to a goal that stops the clock and signifies you met the challenge.
The aforementioned scenario was the Mystery Mansion escape room offered at Breakout Games — Greenville. Becca and I had been visiting family in South Carolina last October when we decided to book the room.
Though we rather efficiently managed to solve the clues that got us into the mansion, we were slower to progress from there. Oh, we managed to solve more clues to open locks and access areas that held even more clues, but in the end we did not beat the clock.
Escape room fail!
Then in late December, Becca and I were part of her office team that booked an escape room in Louisville. A mad scientist had created a deadly virus and its antidote, and planned to infect the world population so he could sell the antidote for billions. Our goal was to search his lab, solve the clues and find the antidote, thus saving the world.
Our team was bigger this time. We had 10 minds of various ages working on the clues for our Escape Lou experience. We solved clue after clue and got down to the last part that would have yielded the antidote and saved the world but—
Time was up.
Another escape room fail!
A message flashed on the TV monitor that had counted down our time. It told us we had failed humanity. Wow. Harsh.
But I think I figured out what we’re doing wrong. We’re not going in with the right attitude. We need to go into the room as if we had driven to the place in a multi-colored van with the words “Mystery Machine” on it.
When we find something surprising we need to shout “Zoinks!” And anytime anyone makes a misstep he or she needs to say “Ruh Roh!”
Yeah, that’s it.
And when someone figures out a clue, they should get a Scooby snack in the form of a doughnut.
Yes. Then maybe the villain for our next escape room will say, “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids!”