Room escape attractions growing in US

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

23 PHOTOS
Escape the room
See Gallery
Room escape attractions growing in US
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Konstantin Elizarov and Lucy Omelchenko are handcuffed together as they prepare to play a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Alex Belousov, left, and Associated Press writer David Fischer try to unlock a box as they play a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC Boban Melkus monitors players taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Konstantin Elizarov, Lucy Omelchenko, and Alex Belousov pose for photos in prison garb after they played a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Konstantin Elizarov and Lucy Omelchenko prepare to play a game at Escape the Quest while handcuffed together in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Lucy Omelchenko watches a video after she played a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC A player searches for clues in a room while taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC Players search for clues in a room while taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC Players search for clues in a room while taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH: HONG KONG-ENTERTAINMENT-ESCAPE by Joe Sinclair In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, participants (R) get ready to play Freeing HK in Hong Kong. Freeing HK is a 'real escape game' in which players are pitted against a ticking clock as they desperately try to work their way out of the room by finding clues, cracking codes, and solving puzzles. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH: HONG KONG-ENTERTAINMENT-ESCAPE by Joe Sinclair In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, Elly Chau, 18, part of the Freeing HK staff holds a chest inside one of the rooms of the premises in Hong Kong. Freeing HK is a 'real escape game' in which players are pitted against a ticking clock as they desperately try to work their way out of the room by finding clues, cracking codes, and solving puzzles. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Yuliya Pashkevich, manager of the Escape the Quest, poses at the attraction in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Konstantin Elizarov looks for clues how to open the small door as he plays a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, two people are handcuffed together as they start to play a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, manager Yuliya Pashkevich mans a computer and watches people on a camera system as they play a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Alex Belousov, left, and Associated Press writer David Fischer try to unlock a box as they play a game at Escape the Quest in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
In this Sept. 22, 2014 photo, Yuliya Pashkevich, manager of the Escape the Quest, poses at the attraction in Miami Beach, Fla. Escape the Quest offers two games; Apartment 101 and Prison Escape, where groups of two to four have an hour to solve a puzzle and win their freedom. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
TO GO WITH: HONG KONG-ENTERTAINMENT-ESCAPE by Joe Sinclair In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, participants pose for a photo after playing Freeing HK in Hong Kong. Freeing HK is a 'real escape game' in which players are pitted against a ticking clock as they desperately try to work their way out of the room by finding clues, cracking codes, and solving puzzles. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH: HONG KONG-ENTERTAINMENT-ESCAPE by Joe Sinclair In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, participants (L) are shown a room of Freeing HK in Hong Kong. Freeing HK is a 'real escape game' in which players are pitted against a ticking clock as they desperately try to work their way out of the room by finding clues, cracking codes, and solving puzzles. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC A player searches for clues in a room while taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC Boban Melkus (R) and his wife Nina, managers of the virtual 'Escape Room' game, pose for a picture in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC Players stop the countdown clock in a room while taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH STORY BY KATARINA SUBASIC Players search for clues in a room while taking part in the virtual 'Escape Room' game in Novi Sad, on January 31, 2014. Those fed up with computer gaming adventures and seeking adrenaline rush in real life now have a chance to save the world without a virtual help in a so-called 'Escape Room.' 'The game was created after a computer one, popular since the 1980s: escaping a room by unlocking it with a number of clues,' said Boban Melkus, manager of the company 'Room Escape.' AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) - I like to think of myself as relatively quick-witted, but I started having serious doubts about my cleverness as I stood handcuffed to my new Russian friend, trying get out of a prison cell.

It wasn't a real prison cell, which is why I wasn't having a panic attack. But the handcuffs were real, and being chained to another person while searching a small room for keys and clues as a clock ticked down became frustrating pretty quickly.

Believe it or not, this was all part of a game. Real-life room escape attractions began opening nearly a decade ago in Asia and Eastern Europe, but they've been popping up in North America over the past few years. The attractions trace their origins back to escape-the-room video games, where players were trapped and forced to use clues and objects in their surroundings to get out. Now that concept has moved into the real world.

Escape the Quest opened in Miami Beach in July. They offer two games - Apartment 101 and Prison Escape - with Mental Hospital coming soon. Groups of two to four have an hour to solve the puzzle and win their freedom. I participated in Prison Escape, joining a group of expat Russians in their mid-20s - Alex Belousov, Konstantin Elizarov and Lucy Omelchenko - who moved to South Florida within the past two years. Their English was heavily accented, and my Russian is nonexistent, adding a language barrier to a challenge that only about 20 percent of groups complete successfully, according to Escape the Quest manager Yuliya Pashkevich.

As Konstantin later remarked, "You don't understand us, and we understand 50 percent of yours."

So we were off to a good start.

To begin, Pashkevich explained that Prison Escape actually includes two rooms and that my new friends and I would be paired off, one pair locked in each room. We would first have to get all four into one room and then all escape together. Alex spoke the best English, so he went with me. We were all handcuffed to our partners and locked in our cells.

I promised Pashkevich I wouldn't give away any secrets, but I will say Alex and I did eventually find a handcuff key, probably much later than we should have. By working with Konstantin and Lucy through a wall, we even managed to get them into our room. And by briefly speaking in their native tongue, Alex and Konstantin figured out a math riddle that set us free with about 5 minutes to spare. I felt useless at that final math part, but even the third-string quarterback gets a ring when his team wins the Super Bowl, so I'm counting it as a win.

After escaping, Alex, Konstantin and Lucy donned old-timey, black-and-white prisoner outfits for a photo op. They agreed they had fun and that it was a unique experience they'd recommend to others.

"It was the first time seeing something like this," Konstantin said. "It was very good."

Pashkevich said the escapes, which start at $60 a group, were designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Besides groups of friends, Pashkevich said it's also common to host families and even co-workers using it for team-building. But she added the potentially stressful room escapes can be poison to a budding romance.

"You know when it doesn't work?" Pashkevich said. "On a first date."

While room escape attractions are more stressful than actually scary, they're catching the attention of more traditional haunted house operators and theme parks.

Brett Hays, a board member of the Haunted Attraction Association and director of Fear Fair in Indiana, said he expects room escapes to feature prominently at a national trade show in St. Louis next spring. "You're going to see a lot of overlap, where companies and individuals doing haunted attractions are also going to be doing these types of events in the off season," Hays said, adding that room escapes can be popular year-round, not just around Halloween.

The challenge of room escape attractions is volume. "You have to get a lot of people through in a night to make the finances work," Hays said.

But traditional haunted attractions often feature multiple events, which could easily include a room escape, Hays said.

Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, Inc., believes the room escape concept can be modified to accommodate more participants.

"We see it as something that will come into the parks bigtime," Speigel said. "It will come in on a larger scale. You'll have large teams of people coursing through different games."

Theme parks are always looking for new ideas, Speigel said, and the critical thinking and interactivity featured in room escapes is appealing.

"The concept is limitless to the story," Speigel said. "So as long you have creative people, this can go on forever."

___

Online: Escape the Quest, http://www.escapethequest.com/

Can You Solve the Puzzle to Escape This Room?



More from AOL
Very close encounter with humpback whale
Woman declared dead by Social Security very much alive
Paralyzed bride surprises guests
Read Full Story

People are Reading