written by: Ashley Szanter photos courtesy of: Great Room Escape
If you ask Greg Andersen, Andy Wilson and Ty Chaston of the Great Room Escape in Layton, the trick is to up the ante with a live-action component.
Rather than just your group fumbling around a room, there are actors in there with you, tasked with helping (or harming) your ability to get out. “A lot of people who do this work have a background in haunted attractions. I have 30 years of experience in that and have worked with Cirque du Soleil and Disneyland,” says Andersen. “This is kind of like a haunted house open year-round.”
Take, for example, their Zombie Room: Your group is trapped in a lab with a rabid zombie and a caretaker who purports to help if you get stuck. The catch? Every 5 minutes, the zombie’s chain gets just a little longer.
But these are not your run-of-the-mill haunted house actors. “I was ready to hire all the haunted house people I knew, but this is different. Most of those people are trained to act for 10 seconds,” Andersen says. “I had to find people who could go for an entire hour.” Naturally, this meant recruiting thespians: Many of their actors have a background in theater, improv or community acting.
The actors aren’t the only element of creating an immersive experience. Andersen, Wilson and Chaston spare no expense, investing an average of $50,000-60,000 per room. “Did you notice the smell?” Wilson asked during a tour of the facilities. “We have a haunted house spray to give it that extra dimension of experience—that musky smell.” Not all the rooms are meant to frighten: Great Room Escape also offers a space themed Countdown room and an Elevator room. Gather your friends and hope you get out.
FIRST TIME TIPS:
• The games are designed for adults and could be frightening for younger children. No children under 8 allowed.
• Many rooms use strobe lights. If you’re sensitive to this, please let them know ahead of time so they can adjust your experience.
• Not great at puzzles? No problem. These are designed for people of all experience levels, so don’t be intimidated.
• Don’t break the props! Andersen says many people have broken objects in the escape rooms. If it doesn’t open or move, it isn’t a part of the game.