How would you like to be locked in an unfamiliar room with only an hour to figure out how to escape? Sounds like a crazy thing to do for fun, but "escape rooms" have been popping up all over the country as a way for groups of friends (and strangers) to challenge themselves with puzzles, clues, and codes. On July 20, Memphis will get its own version. I tracked down one of the owners, Mallory Lynch, to tell me more about the upcoming opening of Memphis Escape Rooms.
Mallory told me that there are many escape rooms across the country, but that Memphis' version is independently owned and operated by her and her husband Stephen Lynch, plus Keith Edwards, Ryan Hoover, and Haley Hoover.
The group first experienced an escape room on a trip to NYC; they had so much fun they then went to one in Nashville. When they saw that Memphis didn't have one, they did what Memphians do: took care of business and opened their own.
Here's how Memphis Escape Room works. Up to 7 people are locked in a room that is set up to look like an ordinary, if unfamiliar place. Mallory says think less "crime scene", more Sherlock Holmes looking for clues in a home or business. There is also a story or scenario – say for example you're trying to stop a serial killer from committing their next murder – while also trying to escape.
There is a key or code hidden somewhere in the room that will help you achieve your goal and get out, but in order to find it, you'll need to do some investigating, puzzle-solving, and decoding. I know that sounds pretty vague, but Mallory understandably didn't want to give too much away.
The clock is ticking (I believe literally) so you can really find out how well you work under pressure. And if you don't solve the puzzle, you'll still be escorted out of the room safely after an hour of course, and you can sign up to try it again.
Memphis Escape Rooms will have two different scenario rooms, and they plan is to change them quarterly. The owners create the intricate stories and clues themselves, so they'll be different from any other escape room you might go to. It's $20 per person, or you can buy out the room for $140; it's for all ages. Some escape rooms have attendants, or people inside the room helping out, but you're on your own in Memphis.
While one person is welcome to try it for themselves, Mallory recommends at least 4 people. Keep in mind that the rooms can hold up to 7 people, so unless you buy out the whole room for your crew, you'll be paired with strangers and have to work with them to solve the puzzle.
To me, this seems like it would add another element of challenge and fun; it's just something you might want to be aware of going in. Mallory also says that the clues and puzzles will fit a broad range of strengths and you don't need to have any prior knowledge. Memphis Escape Rooms will be appropriate for all ages, but kids under 14 have to be with a parent.
Memphis Escape Rooms opens on July 20 at 6263 Poplar Avenue on the 11th floor. You can get more info and book a room on their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.