Riddle me this, if you will: What are the odds of an escape room (and if you don’t know what that is, have no fear, it will be explained in a few paragraphs) opening in Portsmouth?
For extra credit, figure the odds of two escape rooms opening in Portsmouth within about a month of each other.
Hopefully, for the sake of customers’ sanity, the odds of getting out of Mr. Boneyfiddle’s Riddle Room or any of the five rooms that eventually will make up the Deadbolt escape rooms are and will be much lower than the presumed answer to either of the above questions, probably especially the second one.
Opened and puzzling people for about a month now, Mr. Boneyfiddle’s sits on Gallia Street on the Roy Rogers Esplanade. Deadbolt: Boneyfiddle Escape Rooms and Mysteries should open in late August, first in Shawnee State Forest, then at a Boneyfiddle location being kept under wraps. Deadbolt’s future operators said their landlord did not want to make the location public just yet for various reasons, including security.
As promised above, for readers who might not know, an escape room requires players to solve puzzles and uncover clues to escape a “locked” room in a certain amount of time, typically about one hour. As might be expected, the owners and operators of the two Portsmouth escape rooms are aficionados of such locations and have traveled around the country visiting different rooms. The Deadbolt crew claims a 100 percent success rate in getting out of rooms across the U.S. Both groups readily acknowledged knowing each other and say they were pretty much fully aware of the other’s plans.
“We’re all friends,” said Kayla Culp, who along with husband Matt, is helping to plan the Deadbolt rooms. Including the Culps, the Deadbolt entourage numbers a total of five. By coincidence, the same number of people are responsible for the Riddle Room.
While planning still is underway for the Deadbolt rooms, both groups said the Riddle Room is probably going to be the more theatrical of the two undertakings, while the other might be best described as more of a brain-teasing experience. The theatricality of the Riddle Room team probably at least partly springs from the inclusion among the operators of brother and sister Cody and Carrie Ford who previously helped run the now closed public theater known as Jax Theatre in Wheelersburg.
Both teams talked a lot about gathering various props for their escape rooms. Both also said they found local shops such as Ghosts in the Attic very useful. The Riddle Room’s Jordan Nickels said many of the props in their room are things he’s collected throughout his life. Nickels hand made a “mercreature” – patterned after a creation of famed huckster P.T. Barnum – for the Riddle Room lobby.
Both Carrie Ford and Kayla Culp stated pre-written escape room scenarios are available. But members of both groups also stated they are writing the story lines for their rooms themselves.
“Something’s in the Parlour” is the name of the current Riddle Room. The storyline says there is some kind of creature – exactly what is never explained – that has lost something in its well decorated Victorian parlour/ lair. Visitors need to find the item and, of course, escape the room.
A second riddle room is in the planning stages. Fall is fast approaching, so it’s probably no surprise the second room will be Halloween-themed and advertised as intentionally scarier than the “Parlor” scenario.
The first Deadbolt room in Shawnee is entitled “The Cabin.” The scenario says visitors come across a cabin in the woods and get locked inside. You may use your imagination to figure where the story goes from there. Eventually, The Deadbolt group plans five rooms with different storylines for each, and a party facility, in Boneyfiddle. One of Deadbolt’s Boneyfiddle escape rooms has been dubbed “Taken” and will feature customers being bound with real handcuffs. As planning for the rooms continues, the Culps said their home is starting to overflow with props.
Why the interest in escape rooms? The Riddle Room’s Hannah Storey talked about “an adrenaline rush” that arrives with solving and escaping a room. Deadbolt’s Kayla and Matt Culp talked about the addictive nature of escape rooms. They visited their first as a means to kill some time prior to a visit to Disneyland, adding they ended up spending a good deal of their day in the Magic Kingdom talking about the room. Both groups also mentioned a healthy dose of camaraderie and teamwork is needed to complete rooms. In fact, both said escape rooms often are used for team building exercises.
Aside from the two escape rooms, there are several plans for new businesses in Boneyfiddle and in downtown Portsmouth, such as a candy store and a new health food restaurant. Somewhat surprisingly, both escape room groups talked about a sort of groundswell of 30 somethings beginning to come into their own and starting to make their marks on Portsmouth. Both escape room groups also expressed confidence they will not so much compete as feed off each other.
“I think there is plenty of room for both of us and room for plenty of other new things in Portsmouth,” said Carrie Ford. “People are always looking for something to do here,” she said, adding it would be nice to have places to visit without having to drive to Columbus or some other location.
Go to www.deadboltescape.com or www.boneyriddleroom.com for more information.