For Joe Deasy, his inspiration came on a family trip to Budapest. When they turned to Google for suggestions about “things to do in Budapest,” they found that the #1 attraction there was a place called “Escape Room Budapest.” Intrigued, he booked a room, solved the puzzles, and fell in love with the concept.
He said, “It just instantly hit me that there needs to be more of these in the U.S.” So as soon as he arrived home, Joe got to work on a business plan for an Escape Room here in Pittsburgh. Then Joe and his cousin and co-owner, Corey Deasy, dedicated the better part of 2014 to rehabbing a vacant building into Escape Room Pittsburgh. In the meantime, he worked on crafting the puzzle scenarios and testing out clues with about 100 volunteers.
Escape Rooms (or Escape Games) have been popular in Europe and Asia for a while but haven’t quite caught on yet in the US. The concept is just beginning to get traction in big trend-setting cities like New York and Miami.
The Escape Room experience is part brain teaser, part tourist attraction, part interactive theater, and part team-building exercise. Small groups of people are placed in a themed locked room filled with props, gadgets, and various clues. The group members work together, studying clues and working with the gadgets and everyday items to solve 20 to 25 puzzles which will reveal the key that will unlock the chamber and set them free. Outside-the-box thinking is definitely an advantage!
Escape Room Pittsburgh offers two different rooms, which are similar to theater sets. One room is called “Dr. Stein’s Laboratory” with a mad scientist theme and puzzles designed around science, simple machines, and special devices. The other room is called “Prison Escape,” where just as you would expect, the object is to bust out of jail within the 60-minute time limit.
The room is under constant video surveillance, and the proprietors have been known to slip a clue or two under the door if a team seems to be struggling. In the end, about 40% of the teams don’t make it. But if you do succeed in escaping, don’t expect to win a prize. Your reward is the thrill of accomplishment for solving the mystery!
Quoting from their website:
“Escape Room Pittsburgh is the city’s first interactive, immersive puzzle game. Filled with riddles, gadgets, and mind tricks, the mysteries behind the Escape Room doors will challenge you and your teammates to 60 minutes of isolation where only problem solving, creativity, and resourcefulness will set you free.”
It’s certainly proving to be a popular concept, even in relatively conservative Pittsburgh. Since their grand opening last December, Escape Room Pittsburgh has been booked solid. Is your town ready for a Great Escape? What a great business idea for a creative entrepreneur!