Urban Escape Games
Where: 20 Mansell Court East, No. 275, Alpharetta
When: Open for reservations 6:45-9 p.m. Fridays, 1:30-10:15 p.m. Saturdays. Team builder exercises available by request during the week.
Cost: $28 per person
More info: www.urbanescapegames.com
Escape the Space
Where: 540 Hawthorne Ave., Athens
When: Open for reservations 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday
Cost: $18-26 per person, depending on group size
More info: www.escapethespace.com
We walked into a well-furnished room and the door shut behind us.
They told us a hidden gem was in the room and we needed it to get out.
Real-life escape rooms are a relatively new concept based on virtual escape rooms, which have been popular online for years. These group activities are popping up in the state, including locations in Athens and Alpharetta.
Escape the Space, at 540 Hawthorne Ave. in Athens, and Urban Escape Rooms, at 20 Mansell Court East in Alpharetta, each have four rooms with individual themes. The goal is for a group to find clues and solve puzzles in the room to escape.
“We’re an escape room company,” Alicia Brasher with Escape the Space said. “We lock you in a room, and you have an hour to work together and figure out how to escape. It’s an entertainment-based company, focused on interaction and people working together.”
Urban Escape Rooms in Alpharetta has themed rooms including CDC lockdown, jewel heist, Mr. Magic and a murder mystery room. The four themes at Escape the Space in Athens include the SWAT room, detention, murder mystery and O’Malley’s Pub.
One of the first things guests are told upon entering an escape room — and again before leaving — is to keep the secrets of the room. Sharing the clues and codes once you escape ruins the fun and challenge for others.
At both locations, the purpose is to escape the room in less than an hour. Each room begins with a briefing video on how to play the game, plus another video once you enter the room and are immersed in your storyline.
“There are hidden clues throughout the room, and you’re working together to find the clues and utilize them to solve a series of puzzles,” Brasher said. “If you solve everything, in the end you’ll determine how to escape the space within the hour.”
Once complete, guests are given a sticker claiming “I escaped” or “I almost escaped.”
In the SWAT room in Athens, no more than 14 participants are “part of an elite SWAT team tasked with entering an apartment where a group of criminals have been planning an attack in the Athens area,” according to the website. “It’s up to you and your team to discover when, where and how they plan to attack. Along the way, you will be tasked with defusing an actual bomb.”
Escape the Space’s 14-person murder mystery room challenges visitors to put together clues following the death of a well-known judge. In the smaller, four-person O’Malley’s Pub room, guests are tasked with deciphering the hard-to-follow methods and receipts of missing chef Julie O’Malley.
I joined a group of eight to tackle the jewel heist room at Escape the Space. We gasped, screamed and literally ran as we uncovered locked boxes, hidden messages, clues and more. Hints were hidden in the smallest and the biggest places. But I won’t tell you where exactly or risk giving away a worthy secret that can buy you an hour of fun.
Our group “almost escaped,” taking about an hour and three minutes.
Both locations require advance booking. Escape the Space in Athens charges from $18-26 per person while Urban Escape Games charges $28 per person, plus tax.
Large group or team-building events are available at both locations by request.
Brasher said Escape the Space opened in October 2014, when fewer than five escape room companies existed in the state. Today, more than 10 are scattered across Georgia.
“It’s definitely a growing trend and something that’s boomed in the past year especially,” she said.
Escape rooms are not scary or inappropriate, guests are never truly “locked” in a room and the games can be enjoyed by the whole family.
It’s all about teamwork, using your brain and, of course, being able to say you escaped.