Two mysteries are brewing in the City of Subdued Excitement: on the corner of Magnolia and Cornwall, an underground resistance scrambles to find the name of the double agent working against it. Meanwhile, after a rickety elevator ride in the Herald building, a group is left with just 60 minutes to understand the mysteries left behind by a deceased sea captain.
Both stories, puzzle-based adventures created by Jesse Stanton, are part of The Eureka Room, the newest addition to the relatively recent trend of escape rooms. Participants have a set amount of time to solve a series of puzzles, to find the name of a double-agent, or perhaps to save their own lives.
Stanton’s first room, the tale of the resistance, opened in February. His second adventure began testing in November. In the second rendition of the Eureka Room, more heads have come together. Stanton reached out to the Foundry Makerspace, allowing for more special effects and in-depth puzzles. In the second room, story takes precedence, and the story leads the player through the puzzles.
The Eureka Room has a wide appeal. Business groups have come to the Room, using it for team-building. Bachelor and bachelorette parties have both spent their nights there. And with the help of Stanton, the new room was even used to host a proposal in November. For participant Ben Bodenhamer, it’s entertainment off the beaten path. “It’s an alternative to a night out. You use your mind instead of going out to drink.”
It’s not just fun for those who pay to be there, either. The excitement of opening the original Eureka Room never faded for Stanton. Before each appointment, he still gets a rush. Each time, he looks forward to the “eureka moment,” when pieces of the puzzle come together.
It’s not unusual for Stanton to be on his knees beside his customers. While he doesn’t provide hints, he does invest in his customers’ success. Coming in with multiple perspectives is one of the biggest advantages a player can have. A team doesn’t need to have a rocket scientist or a doctor, but having different people with different backgrounds can make a big difference, simply in how they look at the presented challenges.
As Stanton’s first foray into the world of escape rooms grows, so too does the anticipation for the next room. The immersion and depth of the new room has Stanton excited for the newest installment. The excitement is also building in the customers as well.“I’m psyched for the next one,” Bodenhamer said.
While the second room is still in its infancy, the first room is reaching the end of its life. Stanton plans to retire the room in December 2016, though the deadline could be pushed out further, depending on interest and reservations made for the original room.