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2015 Golden Lock-In Award Winner!

2 January 2016

The vote is in: Escape the Place’s room The Chamber has won the 2015 Golden Lock-In Award by RoomEscapeArtist.com. This independent escape room blogger has visited 65 escape rooms in the U.S. in 2015 and selected 10 to be Golden Lock-In Award Winners.

Their words: “A head-to-head competitive escape room that feels a lot like the video game ‘The Room.’”

Be sure to try out The Chamber on your next visit!

Full Article

KRDO’s Bonnie Silkman Reports on Escape the Place

July 29, 2015

Brainy breakout

You hold the keys to your freedom from C-Springs’ first ‘escape room’

By Matthew Schniper May 13, 2015

CJ Thomsen knew this much: He wanted you to start handcuffed.

Any worthy escape should begin by picking a real lock, particularly an escape with a ticking clock over your head and a code-sealed door between you and freedom. Our group of four was out of the cuffs within a couple of minutes thanks to one member’s quick-pick skills — criminal or kinky, I’m still not sure — and we were soon split among several riddles, number games and puzzles.

You see, we were captives by choice, at month-old Escape the Place, Colorado Springs’ first escape room, co-owned and operated by Thomsen. The active-duty Air Force captain, who graduated from the Academy in 2008 and now teaches lieutenants to fly, was sent to Denver’s Clue Room late last year by his employer for good old-fashioned team-building in a very different setting: captivity.

“I came back,” says Thomsen, “and couldn’t sleep for nights, thinking of escape themes.”

And he’s not alone, as these escape rooms have migrated worldwide. Denver is up to four rooms, but more than 30 can be counted in Budapest, Hungary alone. (Visit escaperoomdirectory.com to view locations internationally.)

According to Thomsen, online escape rooms started a conceptual trend that crept into real life in 2007 in Japan. From there it’s spread through Asia, then Europe, and all the way into U.S. pop culture.

In late February, The Big Bang Theory sent its nerds into an escape room partially occupied by a zombie actor. (Denver’s Room Escape Adventures also offers the zombie-with-an-ever-increasing-chain-length incentive to break free.) And Conan O’Brien playfully took on an escape room in mid-April, earning laughs for trying to bribe the in-room assistant, and whining, “This game is bullshit. … Is there a way to order in food?”

You might find yourself feeling a little put-upon, too, after 30 minutes inside Escape the Place’s spy-themed Black Site room. But we were quite absorbed by the activity, not thinking about our work days, errands or kids. Especially once the cuffs came off, it was game on.

The human mind loves a challenge, and time flies when you have not only a task, but that ticking clock over your head. Though there’s the whole international-intrigue thematic overlay, the experience feels not so much like role-playing as it does problem-solving. It’s less for the cosplay crowd and more for average people wanting to try on Jason Bourne’s shoes, minus the punching and running.

That said, it bears mentioning that you don’t have to break anything to escape the room; it’s not a physical test. Similarly, in Escape the Place’s second challenge room, called The Hangover, players reconstruct the details of a drunken evening to liberate themselves from a hotel room. (We didn’t take this challenge.)

Thomsen’s wife Brittney conceived The Hangover room, and it took him roughly two months to write the script for the Black Site. He prides himself on not stealing any content from other escape rooms, only noting what hedidn’t like about them and making sure not to include it in his business — which will include another two rooms before year’s end.

“I wanted this to be as realistic as possible,” he says. “That’s why I wanted people picking their handcuffs.”

In his pre-opening trial runs with test groups, he heard that the script was too difficult. His puzzle-loving father also couldn’t crack it. So Thomsen ended up making the script slightly easier to solve.

But we can attest that it’s not too easy. And there are very clever aspects to Thomsen’s design that should surprise any player.

In the Black Site, Thomsen provides each team with a secret agent who helps from the outside. Players get an iPhone and can Skype with the agent, but each clue they request costs extra time off the clock as a penalty. Cameras monitor the whole affair, and the room has a microphone as well. Again, I shouldn’t say more, but know that the operators won’t leave you squirming too long and stuck to the point of regretting your expense ($28 per person).

“We can inject things to keep it moving if you’re getting frustrated,” he says, adding that he “designed this puzzle with a certain rhythm and sequence in mind, but I’m amazed every day to see the way different people solve it.”

He particularly enjoyed witnessing a group of 15-year-olds in for a birthday party screaming frantically — “I’ve never heard anyone as loud as them before” — as well as watching our expert lock-picker try to crack a combination lock old-school style by placing his ear to it as he turned it. (He didn’t succeed.)

Ultimately, for Thomsen, Escape the Place is about an alternative form of entertainment that gets people away from computer and TV screens and into a creative setting. When asked if he thinks there’s psychologically more to it, he says, “I’m not sure if it’s about the aspect of being controlled,” though he has had guests show up expressing unusual excitement to be cuffed.

“We say, ‘We’ll lock you in a room and you hold the key to get out — good luck.’ I think it’s more about that challenge, that they can maybe outsmart someone and escape our puzzle.”

We did, after 40 minutes — a record at the time. But surely that won’t hold for long.

And it won’t be long until the Springs sees a second escape business: Mystery Quests, which launches May 23. Owners Debi and Ed McGaw say they were inspired by sites they encountered in Switzerland, and are launching with two historically themed and decorated rooms: a World War II 10th Mountain Division and a Cuban Missile Crisis escape.

Full article: http://m.csindy.com/coloradosprings/you-hold-the-keys-to-your-freedom-from-c-springs-first-escape-room/Content?oid=3064639

ESCAPING COLORADO SPRINGS’ FIRST PUZZLE ROOM REQUIRES WIT AND TEAMWORK

By Alexander Nedd April  20th 2015

You and seven of your best friends check into a hotel room to sleep after too much partying to celebrate your friend’s birthday. Suddenly, you wake up. Your friends are all passed out. You decide to get up for some fresh air and head to the door, but there’s a problem.

It’s locked.

This is the beginning narrative to “The Hangover,” a night that will have you and your friends talking for months. It all begins in Colorado Springs’ first puzzle room, a live-involvement feature that locks you up with seven others in a room with only one hour to escape.

No matter what the outcome, online reviews have given the company a five star rating on Facebook.

Puzzle rooms, a trend that started in Europe, have grown in popularity over the last five years. The first in Colorado Springs is called Escape the Place, changing the meaning of free time while hanging out with your friends.

Two rooms are available to try and break out: “The Hangover” and “Blacksite,” where you and your team are captured by the CIA and set for interrogation.

My roommate and I were among the first to try out “The Hangover.” The room highlights those who are able to think outside the box and solve riddles that aren’t black and white. There is no way to train for this, another element that increases the fun and sense of urgency.

Don’t expect to be able to google answers from your smartphone either, trust me, I already tried.

Once you are locked in the room you are only armed with your wits, strength and the other players. Do not waste time keeping precious information to yourself as every second counts once the timer begins.

What made the scenario fun was figuring out the clues that began to emerge after a thorough search of the room. Nothing should be dismissed without first being checked by everyone. Everything in the room except the ceiling is fair game. Use your surroundings wisely.

Don’t get frustrated if you are stuck. You cannot break anything in the room or move any wooden furniture, as explained by the staff before you head in.

A phone is available with clues if your team cannot crack a special code, but there are consequences. You lose a minute of your overall time to get out of the room and you must ask the right question; collaborate with your group on what you specifically should ask.

My group won “The Hangover” challenge by successfully getting out and broke the previous record by five minutes and escaping with 17 minutes and seven seconds to spare.

Once finished, an employee will congratulate your team or inform you that your group did not make it. Photos are taken after with signs that detail the team’s most valuable player and other traits.

Escape the Place is open on Monday and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $28 per person.

First escape room opens in Colorado Springs

By Jen Mulson April 2015

Fans of puzzle rooms no longer have to drive to Denver to get their fix.

Escape the Place, Colorado Springs’ first such room, opened last week and owners CJ Thomsen, Brittney Thomsen and Aston Teague are offering half-price tickets through Saturday.

Puzzle rooms, also called escape rooms, are soaring in popularity across the country. A group of friends, strangers or co-workers get locked in a themed room and have one hour to solve the puzzles and escape.

“I’ve always enjoyed puzzles and thinking out of the box and doing stuff as a team,” CJ Thomsen said. “All that combined really took off in my mind. I couldn’t sleep because I was dreaming up all these scenarios.”

A 2008 graduate of the Air Force Academy and a Pueblo flight instructor, Thomsen went to The Clue Room in Denver as part of a team building exercise with his squadron. “I thought I could inject some of the stuff I learned in the military, and I have a creative mind,” he said. “We wanted a creative environment that facilitated team building and that was targeted toward the corporate environment.”

He and his wife designed the two rooms, “The Hangover” and “Blacksite,” as realistically as possible. They wanted the scenarios to feel like situations people potentially could face. Groups of up to eight must work together to solve 15-20 puzzles. Play is targeted toward ages 13 and older, though Thomsen said they’re working on developing puzzles for younger kids.

Creating the puzzles was the most labor intensive part of the process.

“It’s not just solving a puzzle on a piece of paper,” he said. “We use black lights, handcuffs, keys, combination locks. We have to start with the end result of getting out of the room and work backward.”

First puzzle room opens in Springs

By Jen Mulson April 2015

Isn’t it nice when something you asked for finally arrives?

The first puzzle room in Colorado Springs opened Thursday. It’s called Escape the Place, and owned by husband and wife CJ and Brittney Thomsen and Aston Teague.

I wrote a story last month about the proliferation of these puzzle rooms (also called escape rooms), and people really responded. At the time I only wrote about the options available in Denver, but now you don’t have to drive an hour to get your fix.

They’ve developed two rooms: “The Hangover” and “Blacksite.” In “The Hangover,” you wake up in a locked hotel room after a wild night and must puzzle yourself out of the room. In “Blacksite,” you and your fellow spies have been captured by the CIA and transported to a black site for interrogation. You have one hour to escape. 

And might I suggest you get a move on and sign yourself up for a room now? They’re having a grand opening special with half off admission prices through April 11.

Escape the Place

When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays-Saturdays; seven time slots for each room on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, eight time slots for each room on Saturdays

Where: 4570 Hilton Parkway, Suite 203

Tickets: $28 per person, grand opening special $14 per person through April 11; 203-4587, escapetheplace.com

Read more at http://gazette.com/blog-first-puzzle-room-opens-in-springs/article/1549009#WtKdGwSYoKbEQgb1.99

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