Locked in a room, with only minutes to find a way to escape, provide a nightmare scenario for some, but for a group of Grove residents its a new form of entertainment.
The Grand Escape Room, owned and operated by Chris and Amber Davis and Jeff and Nanette Dozier, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy - all within a 60 minute time frame.
If successful, the final clue gives players the code to "break out" of the room before the time expires.
The new venture, located on South Grand Street, in Grove, came about after Chris and Amber Davis experienced their first escape room game while on vacation in Colorado.
Jeff Dozier said the pair came back excited about offering the same type of attraction not only to area residents but also to the Grand Lake tourism community.
The family, Dozier said, saw the Grand Escape Room as a way to not only provide a new entertainment offering in Grove, but also help with the downtown revitalization efforts.
The family purchased the building across from The Grove Community Center, which once housed Shadow Arms.
"In the last several years we've watched how Grove has tried to rebuild the downtown," Dozier said. "We wanted to be part of it, to help with the walking traffic.
"We think this will draw people from other events and restaurants, and be a good match to what is already available downtown. We could have picked somewhere else, to have a larger facility, but we wanted to be downtown."
After months of planning, The Grand Escape Room officially opened on Thursday, June 28, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday season.
The family created three rooms for this initial launch:
• A Bank Heist - where teams of people are part of a crime syndicate trying to attempt a bank heist at The Vally Isle Bank;
• Baker Street Mystery - where the players attempt to solve a murder mystery to dismantle the Baker Street Five, a gang terrorizing London; and
• The Classroom - where players try to solve the disappearance of Miss Eleanor from the classroom.
The family purchased the "file" for each room, or the mystery and the clues. They then built the room using items found at local stores, thrift shops and even their own closets.
Each room allows for two to eight players within each 60 minute game. The rooms are ranked on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest score. The Classroom is the group's easiest room, while The Baker Street Mystery is considered the hardest.
Once locked within a room, team players are given a back story, by a game official, to help them begin to solve the mystery.
Players are monitored by the game official from a bank of computers in the control room. Game officials watch the action, and track where the players are in the mystery.
At any time, players can ask the game official for a clue - between three to five clues per room, depending upon the difficulty level - to help them advance in the game.
Many of the clues are pre-determined, however the game officials can customize the clues based on where the players are in the game.
"You don't have to ask for clues," explained Chris Davis, "but as of now, we haven't had anyone make it out without asking for clues."
While many escape room facilities have a single entrance and exit for each theme room, Dozier said the family decided to put two doors on each room - one, which can only be unlocked by solving the mystery, and the other, which gives players access to leave at any point in the game.
"It takes a lot of teamwork to solve the mysteries," Dozier said. "The more [players] work as a team, the better their results will be."
As of the first week of operation, only The Classroom's mystery had been solved by players. Dozier joked that both of the teams were made up of mostly children around the ages of 10.
He said children seem to approach the mystery with a directed intensity.
Both Davis and Bethany Hinman said its cool to sit in the control room, watching as people work to solve the mystery.
"Everyone approaches [the mystery] differently," Hinman said.
"You can really tell the personalities and how they are different from person to person," Davis agreed. "You can really see how their minds work."
For now, the family is learning how to market their new venture, relying on placards in strategic locations, word of mouth advertising and social media.
Dozier said word of mouth may be the best form of advertising, as customers tell their friends about their experience at the escape room.
"It's why we want our customer service to be the best," Dozier said.
For now, the family allows players to keep their mobile phones with them within the rooms, implementing an honor system of sorts.
Some escape rooms require players to place the phones in a secure locker at the start of the game.
"People ask us all the time what we will do if someone puts all the clues and answers on Facebook," Dozier said. "Obviously that's a negative aspect, and once we find out, we can change the clues and locks."
On the first Saturday of operation, Phillip and Ashley Matchell, along with Shawn and Dala Davis and Anna and Luke Lane, were among those attempting to solve the Baker Street Room mystery.
The group of friends, who have traveled to other escape rooms within the Four-State Area, said they were excited to see the Grand Escape Room open in Grove.
"This builds camaraderie and is challenging," Philip Matchell said. "It's clean fun and something new to do."
Shawn Davis agreed.
"It's both fun and challenging," Shawn Davis said "as you work to try to figure out the clues using only your head. It's fun to race against the time.
During that outing, the team found themselves out of time, as they attempted to solve the mystery.
Shawn Davis said the group may return, to try it another day, joking that they would probably forget half of the clues within a few days.
Dozier told the group they only expect The Baker Street mystery room will have a 10 to 15 percent escape rate.
The Grand Escape Room is open from 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday, from 1:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 4 to 9 on Sunday.
Room bookings are staggered in 15 minute intervals so teams begin an exit at strategic times. The last room is started within an hour before closing. The cost is $22 per person.
The rooms are also open, at other times, for private groups, businesses, or family get-togethers.
Dozier hopes businesses owners will use the room for team building experiences for their employees.
For more information, or to book a room, persons interested may visit www.thegrandescaperoom.com, email email@example.com or call 918-791-3344.