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One of the hottest entertainment trends in the country can be found all across Arkansas. Escape rooms are a draw for adventurers, puzzle lovers, families, couples and corporate groups alike. You might think it sounds crazy – get locked in a room and left to solve puzzles, accomplish tasks, and find a way to break free. However, it’s an exciting live-gaming trend that sweeping the nation and the state.
There are escape rooms now in Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Little Rock, Russellville and Fort Smith. What makes escape rooms so popular? Patrons can feel like they’re jumping into a TV show where they’re working to beat the clock by solving unique puzzles. But it’s so much more than that. Devin Kuhl, co-founder of ClueMasters in Fort Smith, explains, “Escape rooms are popular because people feel challenged and excited during the game. They feel accomplished when they beat the game, even if they had to ask for clues. A lot of emotions happen during a game from confusion when you find a new challenge, to pride when you figure it out. There are many times during the escape for people to feel good while they’re having fun.”
Escape rooms also hit on the competitive side of players. Most have a leader board where teams can earn a spot by escaping in record time. Most rooms have a list posted with the top teams – so if you want a spot on the leaderboard, you can see the times to beat! Typically, asking for clues is allowed, but it will result in a time penalty. The fun part about making it to the top spot is naming your team! You can go simple by using your last name, or get more creative. Either way, the chance to earn bragging rights is a big draw. Many groups will return time and time again to try and beat their time and earn their spot on the leaderboard.
While escape rooms are innovative business ideas for entrepreneur Arkansans, many owners create the rooms with their community in mind. Kuhl says, “The main reason we created ClueMasters was to provide a different type of entertainment option for families and friends where they can disconnect from technology and connect with each other. Where else do you go without your phone for an hour that’s not a movie? Here you can communicate and work together while having fun.”
An escape rooms is great for just about anyone. For families, it’s a great way to work on your communication skills and make memories. For groups of friends, it’s an interesting way to spend a night out. Corporate groups can exercise their problem-solving and creativity muscles. Anyone with the competitive, adventuresome spirit will love trying to beat the clock and make the leaderboard. Nerdy types will love solving the puzzles and figuring out the clues. Escape rooms really offer something for everyone. Kuhl says, “There are different types of puzzles in the rooms, so there’s an opportunity for everyone to shine.”
If you want to head to an escape room, most require reservations ahead of time. Since the games last an hour, it can be tough to drop in because you may have to wait on another group to finish. So make your reservation and start gathering your group! Most escape rooms can accommodate anywhere from 2-10 people depending on the setup. Kuhl has some advice for getting your team ready for the rooms, “Assemble a team of varied personality types – people with different perspectives and strengths. We enjoy seeing how groups work together. If everyone brings something different to the room, you’ll be able to work together to escape.”
Gather your friends, family, or coworkers and try out an escape room. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have locked in a room!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the Arkansas escape rooms:
Bolt! NWA in Bentonville
Central Arkansas Escapes in North Little Rock
ClueMasters in Fort Smith
Hourglass Escape Rooms in Russellville
Lockdown in Jonesboro (opening Spring 2016)
NWA Escape Room in Fayetteville
Ozark Escape in Fayetteville
The Room in Springdale
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