Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Escape Game: Nashville, TN

Every year the company I work for hosts a conference.  This year, we went to Nashville.  Conference ends at lunch on Friday and the last few years some of my coworkers and I have taken to staying over to do something fun and then heading home on Saturday.  Maybe because of this blog, or maybe because I am a bossy control freak, the task of finding something fun to do usually falls to me.  But the problem is that not everyone in our little group defines "fun" the same way that I do.

While researching options, I knew I didn't really want to do the Grand Ole Opry because I already had tickets for Saturday night as I am staying even longer than the others to spend time with my cousin.  And as usual, some things aren't open at night.  Nashville seemed to be a one-trick pony (and having gone there I still feel that way), it is all about the music and bars. 

On TripAdvisor I found something called The Escape Game that sounded interesting to me and was ranked as the #3 thing to do in Nashville.  The website says you are locked in a room for 60 minutes and use cyphers, codes and clues to find a way to escape.  I am always on the lookout for something different to do and this seemed to fit the bill.  I copied their website link and sent it to my 3 coworker ladies that would be staying over with me.

The first reply I get is "Will it be dark?"  I am not sure whether this person has looked at the website or not but it doesn't appear from anything on there that this will be the case.  You have to solve clues and I am not sure how that will happen in the dark.  Nevertheless I go back to the site and look at the FAQ which has nothing about being in the dark.  I try to call them and get an answering machine.  I reply back that I don't think so and get the response, "I will have a panic attack".  Duly noted.

The next day one of the other ladies responds with "Is it scary?"  Holy cow.  I should have seen this coming.  This isn't the first time that a plan I am trying to hatch up has been met with resistance.  The trapeze class.  Indoor skydiving.  The truth is that only one of the people other than me in our group of 4-6 (depending on everyone's availability) is up for anything.

So I send the group an email.  I want to resign as Cruise Director.  I am not upset about the Escape Game or anything else but I am spending time researching and making suggestions only to run into the same problems over and over.  These other ladies should be making the suggestions I say.  My resignation is not accepted.  While this is going on, I sent my cousin the same original email about The Escape Game and she was immediately on board so I am going either way.  I tell the group this and send them alternative, and more sedate, options.  It isn't easy to get 4 people to make one decision given 5 new choices.

The Escape Game building is in a residential neighborhood and right next to a salon.  Not really what I expected.

So, having made other arrangements with the other ladies, my cousin Dawn and I head over to The Escape Game on Monday morning.  I was halfway expecting it to be just us in the room as it is 9:45 am on a work day.  When you register they tell you that unless you pay for the whole room (which varies depending on the room you do), they may put you with other people.  We have mixed feelings about this.  What if the other people don't work with us?  What if they dominate the game and we are left out?  I am really hoping it is just us but that isn't what happened.  And it is a good thing it didn't.  I think 2 people would be hard pressed to escape unless they had done this before, failed, and were trying again.

For some reason, I thought this place was relatively new.  However, based on the large number of pins on the map, that appears to be a false assumption.  There was another map that had pins for different countries.  Montana was poorly represented so I added my pin.  Dawn is from the Pensacola area and there wasn't room for more pins there.  The room to the right is the entrance to The Heist room.  There are 4 different rooms you can play.

Dawn and I are signed up for the Nashville Room which, according to the website is recommended for 2-7 people.  We are paired up with 3 men - John, John and Bill.  They explain they are brothers and a dad which truthfully didn't need explaining.  After we introduce ourselves, our "guide", Evan, has us watch a video explaining the rules.  You cannot take any photos in the room and you cannot even have your phone out (so no calculator).  A basket is provided for our purses, phones, keys.  It stays in the room but they have cameras watching us so they can see us all of the time.  They say this is to help them when they give us "clues".  The TV monitor will show the clue and a tone will tell us one is coming so we know to look. 

I don't want to give too much away in case anyone ever does this or something like it.  Basically you are in the room and you and your partners have to find clues and work on cyphers to unlock other clues, locks, etc.  For example, in one case one of us had to look at a computer monitor in one room while another person reached their hand in to a tall speaker to unlock a combination lock in the next room.  We didn't have a combination at the time but suddenly while I was wearing the special glasses and looking at the computer watching Dawn mess with the lock, I knew what the combination was and she unlocked it.  That gave us a key that went to something else.  And so on. 

Some others, including one of my coworkers that stayed over, went to do this on the Friday before and she said you need more people and now I understand. There is a LOT to do.  Fortunately, the brothers were content to let us work on things alone and we did the same for them and we made for a good team.  The only time it was a problem was when we had to do a math equation.  I had the marker and was trying to work on it on this big board but the brothers were standing behind me trying to do it in their heads.  But they didn't do it silently and I couldn't focus with them saying numbers standing right behind me.  I missed the calculation by 1, which made a difference.

We didn't escape.  Time was ticking down and we had less than 1 minute and we still needed 2 numbers to open the keypad. 

Dawn, me, Bill or John, John or Bill, John the dad with our "I Almost Escaped" stickers.
Dawn and I had so much fun with this we considered going back the next day to try another room.  Ultimately we didn't.  In my mind the experience we had the first time would have been hard to top.  Even if we had successfully escaped I don't think it would have been more fun.  We could have bought the "I Escaped" t-shirt but I have plenty of t-shirts.  We were lucky to get paired with the people we did and we might not get that lucky again.  Or we might not get paired at all and I am not sure we could have made it as far on our own.  All in all I would do this again in another city, maybe with a group of people that I know.  This wasn't scary and we were never in the dark (one of the rooms used black lighting but it wasn't dark and was open to the fully lit room next door).
My boss was telling me that they have something like this in Dallas only in that game they put a zombie in the room with you.  Maybe I should try to talk my coworker group into it for our next visit to Dallas.  I might have to leave out the zombie part.

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