Date night in Fayetteville is about to go to whole other level, for all ages. Luke Chilton is 16 years old and inherited entrepreneurial genes. Also a musician, he splits his time between California and Fayetteville. Last year, Luke pitched an idea to his family, including his Aunt Gayla Joeckel, who started Omega Gymnastics here over 30 years ago, and to his parents, Shea and Nancy. Luke had visited an Escape Room while in California and felt like Fayetteville would embrace this concept and welcome the adventure. “Imagine being locked in a room with a bunch of your friends or family and the only way out is by solving puzzles. It is interactive gaming, family fun, team building” says Luke. “It is intense. Fayetteville is going to love it.” “You are locked inside a room with 8 to 10 people and you have to stretch your mind, use your intellect to get out”, explains Shea. Clues are scattered around the room, on the wall, everywhere. Participants must work together to solve a series of puzzles to unlock the door. The clues often lead to a physical key. But the story of why you’re in the room..you are involved in a bank heist, you are seeking lost treasure, you are trying to avoid zombies or, perhaps, a serial killer....and the way in which action unfolds differs by room and location. Escape Rooms originated in Japan and spread through Asia, hitting the US in 2012. The site Escape Room Directory recently listed 367 rooms at 138 facilities with more registering on that site each week. Each session is an hour and each room has a theme. Escape rooms are also emerging onto the business scene as a very effective corporate team building exercise. In some escape rooms, the group can spend some time, post-adventure, processing the experience and identifying strengths and weaknesses. Luke enlisted his entire family. He is working with his Aunt Gayla and his parents to open Escape Room Fayetteville in late January.
“Escape rooms are entertaining and intense” says Gayla. “Luke has been creative his entire life. This is going to be wonderful in Fayetteville. It has been wonderful for our family to work together to bring Luke’s vision to life. We work really well together. It is fun and I think this community will enjoy this so much. I know we have.”What can you expect? Escape Room Fayetteville will be open in late January at 3639 B Sycamore Dairy Road. You will be able to purchase tickets, in advance, online or thru a mobile ticketing app for $25-$30 per session. You can go alone, with a friend or with a group. Eight to ten people will be led by a Game Master into a themed room, filled with clues and puzzles. The Game Master will explain the rules, including how to exit the room (and end the session) in case of an emergency. The mission is to work together to exit the room, usually before something dramatic happens like zombies, pirates, something. Each session is one hour. This venue is designed for people of all ages. There will be an age appropriate room for younger children to solve puzzles and escape with their parents. The staff will take pictures of your adventure and there will be t-shirts for folks who actually succeed in escaping. There will also be constant audio and visual contact between the patrons and the staff. The Game Master will interact remotely during the entire experience, leaving space for the team to work together or struggle apart. “You are always clock watching” shared Gayla. “It is just so much fun and great icebreaker. This is how people can really, really get to know each other” she laughed. Luke sat quietly during most of the interview. His youthful eyes sparkled as his Aunt and his parents shared their excitement about his brainchild. He would occasionally interject or add onto something they were sharing but mostly he seemed to be observing. As we wrapped things up, he said “Seeing this come to life, all of it coming together, has really bonded my family. That is the best part.”ArrayNC.com•A