When I was first asked to write about the opening of Escape Zones Auburn, I can honestly say I had no real understanding of what an escape room was. But, in the sprit of adventurousness and bravery, I decided that I should take Escape Zone Auburn’s challenge to voluntarily lock myself in a room and try to escape within one hour.
After spending an evening following clues and decoding hidden messages in a pirate-themed room with six other strangers, I can confirm that participating in an escape room has much more to do with your brain than your bravery and that it is truly something that any age group can do.
The idea to bring an escape room to Auburn, Alabama, stemmed from a desire of two families who wanted to create a family-friendly activity that would appeal to a wide variety of people.
After participating in an Atlanta, Georgia, escape room, Escape Zones Auburn co-owner Ashley McCrary said her family was amazed at how they were all able to contribute and enjoy themselves.
“It is really hard to find something that a family can do that a 50-year-old, 46-year-old and an 11-year-old can do," McCrary said. "We did a lot of investigating, and we just thought this would be a really neat thing for this community."
Although Escape Zones Auburn is open to the public, it is still in a phase of what the owners call “soft openings,” and will not officially have its grand opening for another two–three weeks.
Even still, Escape Zones Auburn has already seen a positive response from many different groups in the community the owners said.
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“We’ve had amazing corporate response and people reaching out to us saying they’ve wanted something just like this to bring their group to," said co-owner Troy Howard. "And we’ve got groups and teams from the university."
Escape Zones Auburn hopes groups will take advantage of the team building and strength finding they believe an escape room can reveal. In addition to the corporate response, owners say they are already booked with ministries, youth groups, Auburn City Schools, groups and sports teams from the university and even a cross-fit team.
While co-owner Troy Howard says that much of creative thinking for devolving the escape rooms comes from his experience in creating skits and props during his time as Aubie the Tiger at Auburn University, the owners attested designing the rooms was a family affair.
“What’s been fun is we have bounced ideas off [our] kids," McCrary said. "All of our children have contributed in some way."
In the future, the McCrary and Howard families hope to continue to develop rooms and expand their reach in the community.
“The biggest thing is even if you know about [escape rooms] it is hard to explain to people who haven’t done it," Howard said. "If we can get the community and student population understanding what’s going on, I think it’ll be a lot of fun."
In the end, my team escaped the room with seven minutes to spare. If you would like to learn more about Escape Zones Auburn or sign up for a time slot, you can visit their website at http://auburnescapezones.com.
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