Imagine being trapped inside a locked room, surrounded by an entombed mummy. Or traveling back in time to the 1700s, amid the American Revolution. Senses become overwhelmed by sounds and lighting. All the while, a clock ticks down from one hour, a constant reminder that remaining trapped is eminent. And the best—or worst part: it’s voluntary.
Escape Room Mystery is a new thrill-seeking adventure in King of Prussia, created by husband and wife team, Brian and Noel Keen, which will open June 17. During the experience, a group of up to eight individuals are locked in a room with a selected theme—the Egyptian Tomb, the Revolution, the Laboratory, or the Billionaire’s Den—and given one hour to solve riddles and clues in an attempt to figure out a code which will allow them to escape.
Escape rooms aren’t a new concept, but they are fairly new in the U.S. The original concept was inspired by video games in which users solved puzzles in a set amount of time. The first known appearance of a physical version was in 2007 in Japan. Since its inception, the entertainment format has spread across the globe, especially in Asia, Europe and now North America.
The Keens hope their version—inspired by their own families’ love of riddle and puzzle solving—will take the concept up a notch. Brian, who has 20 years of engineering experience, helped trick out the rooms with electronics, some of which include trigger sensors. “We looked at the industry and we thought there was a gap in the electronics. You can do so many neat things with them,” he says, noting that some sensors might trigger hidden doors or sound effects.
The rooms, all designed by professional artists, will immerse visitors in the experience. “It’s fun to get people excited, to really step out of their ordinary lives and feel like they’re in something like the Egyptian tomb,” Noel says. That room is complete with a sarcophagus, while other rooms, like the Billionaire’s Den, have a host of familiar family games, complete with a giant chess board and chess pieces on the ceiling.
The experience begins as soon as adventurers, as the Keens like to call them, arrive. “They’ll feel like they’ve left the world they came from,” says Brian. Upon arrival, an adventure guide leads the group into their selected room where they are left alone and locked in, solving riddles and immersing themselves in another world. In the Revolution, visitors are George Washington’s spies, trying to evade the British.
All the while, a clock ticks down. Most rooms have a visible clock, but to help with time management, a subtle sound helps indicate remaining time at intervals. The rooms and puzzles are designed to be difficult to solve—the Keens estimate that about 30 percent of groups will be successful. To help users, a moderator will monitor progress and give clues to groups who get stuck.
“We want to make sure people don’t get frustrated,” says Brian. “Some groups come and just crush the room and we don’t help them at all. Other groups just get stuck. The moderator is trained to make sure they don’t get to the point where they get frustrated.”
For those who don’t complete the puzzles in the allotted time, it could mean an eternity in a tomb with a mummy or, in the case of the Billionaire’s Den, “all of your inheritance money going to a Miley Cyrus presidential fund,” Brian jokes. While neither of those circumstances will actually happen, guests may be given a few extra minutes to try to solve the puzzle, but if they don’t, a guide will enter the room and walk them through the puzzles they missed.
Escape Room Mystery is part of the King of Prussia retail expansion, which includes renovations and expansion to the mall and the local dining scene, as well as entertainment.
840 First Ave., King of Prussia.