Some Eureka Springs businesses shut down or reduce hours during the winter when there are fewer tourists in town. But one new business that is doing well even during the off season is the Escape Room 13, at 13 Main St.
Escape games are a live-action game based on online or video games such as Myst and Crimson Room. Participants are locked into a room and given clues and puzzles to “escape” the room before the time is up, usually an hour.
Charles Mowrey, who goes by the title Marketing Auteur & Unexpected Events Harmonizer, said escape room participants work together to find clues and figure out puzzles. The idea is to find the key that opens the door before the time is up.
Mowrey describes Escape Room 13 as “an immersive live action story with secret messages, hidden passages, and all the fun that puts you in the story.”
“We bought the building two years ago, and began remodeling,” Mowrey said. “We had a soft opening July 8 and had a grand opening a couple of weeks later.”
Mowrey said the offering provides a refreshing alternative to existing evening entertainment options, and has been picking up in popularity.
“The unique Eureka Springs story line has been received by well more than a thousand people to date,” Mowrey said. “Both first time Escape Room artists, and seasoned veterans have praised our room, and as our Facebook feedback shows, we have maintained a 5-star rating.”
Susie Allen, owner of Rose of Sharon Cottage bed and breakfast in Eureka Springs, said her experience doing the Escape Room 13 was a lot of fun.
“It was interesting and challenging, and yet not too much,” Allen said. “They gave us a little extra time, but we finally ended up finding all the clues and getting out of the room. I will do it again when they get another game. I think come spring they will have one or two more rooms. It would be fun to go back and do it again. I did it with several friends and they all liked it. It is something different to do. You are not out at a bar drinking or eating again.”
Allen also liked the historic theme linked to a 1922 bank robbery in Eureka Springs.
“The story was appropriate for Eureka Springs,” Allen said. “It wasn’t a nowadays mystery. It was historical. It really does challenge you brain wise. They have all different kinds of clues. There are some clues you have to look at pictures and decide what is the difference between the pictures, and there are some clues you need a special light to see. Some clues don’t advance the story, but tell you where to find another clue. It is different that way from a scavenger hunt.”
Mowrey said the majority of their weekend customers are tourists looking for unique experiences. Much of their weekday business is from locals, or tourists who find them because they are open seven days a week when other things are closed.
Part of the appeal is sharing the fun. The experience is real, not virtual.
“In today’s day and age, we live much of our life through some kind of technology,” Mowrey said. “Whether it is swiping, or mousing, many hours are spent interacting with something not very tangible. Our escape room has a custom-built set that transports you back to 1922. People enjoy interacting with the physical puzzles instead of virtual ones.”
The second event planned for later this year will be based around Carry A. Nation, the famous temperance movement leader known for taking a hatchet to smash saloons, who spent part of her later life in Eureka Springs.
“We hope to have some other mobile, and smaller events available in 2018,” Mowrey said. “We will likely retire one event a year, and revamp it to keep it fresh for the repeat visitors of Eureka Springs.”
Escape rooms started in Japan seven years ago, and have since become popular around the world.
For more information about Escape Room 13, call (479) 308-8624 or visit www.EscapeRoom13.com.