Escape Room Park City opens Halloween room
The couple continues expansion since opening last summer
October 16, 2017
Imagine being trapped in a mine with one hour to escape. There is an exit, but it can only be found using clues that someone else has set. That is a premise to one of the rooms at Escape Room Park City.
The company was launched by Shirin and Dirk Spangenberg, who went to their first escape room in Seattle in 2015. Dirk immediately saw the potential for a new business in Park City. The couple already had entrepreneurial experience launching the recycling company Curb It, but they wanted to do something a little more "fun."
Escape rooms are live adventure rooms that require players to solve riddles and puzzles in order to unveil the plot of the situation they must "escape."
Since opening last June, the couple has seen customers from around the globe, and several repeating locals who frequently ask when another room will open.
"People love our rooms so much that they are really mad at us for not having more rooms," Shirin said.
After so many demands, the Spangenbergs decided to expand from two to three rooms, with a fourth one set to open at the end of the month. The original Mine Trap room takes an hour to complete, the Travel room 45 minutes and a new Halloween-themed one takes an hour. The holiday room will be open until Nov. 5 and is easier than the other two. After then, the couple plans to make it an introductory, rotating holiday room.
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"This is a less expensive, quick, fun room," Shirin said. "It's not necessarily super clever… It's kind of instant gratification, so you go from one thing to another to another."
The Spangenbergs also plan to open a kids' escape room that caters to their younger guests, which they surprisingly have seen a lot of. Most businesses like theirs attract young adults, but Shirin said there is no demographic that they have not seen.
They cater their rooms to meet the needs of the diverse set of guests, incorporating all learning styles – such as visual and phsycial/kinesthetic — into their clues.
"Everybody is different. Every group is different," she said. "It's really fun to see their perception of what they've done. We love it."
The Spangenbergs made every clue in the rooms. The first two rooms each took six months to make, but designing puzzles and clues is what they love, Derk said.
Other escape rooms are often part of franchises that provide clues for them.
"I see something and I'm like, 'How can I use that as a clue?'" Shirin said. "I'll be at a gallery or walking down the street and I'll see something that I think is unique and interesting."
The clues have to fit with a theme and be logical, solvable and able to be engineered physically.
"Not only do you have to engineer it so that it works, it has to work every time," Dirk said. "It has to make sense for people and it has to be basically bullet-proof."
He likes to balance hard brain-teasers with filler, easier clues that boost the player's confidence so they never get overly frustrated. Dirk said he does not like to trick people, but instead finds joy in seeing them succeed. For each room, there is a game master watching the players, waiting to give them a clue if they need it and announcing how much time is left. Dirk has heard some of his employees cheering the players on in the control room, yelling, "You almost got it!"
"Almost more fun than playing the room is actually listening to people or watching people play the room who are getting into it," he said. "It's better than any reality show that you've seen."
Besides adding extra rooms into their current retail space at 136 Heber Ave #207, the company also hopes to expand to a new location in Redstone, Shirin said.
They continue to see the potential of escape rooms for all people – families, couples, friends and co-workers.
"When you figure something out it's really exciting," she said. "Everybody has a good time in there."