The great ‘escape’: Local business offers multiplayer adventure games

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The mystery of two young lovers--whose parents don't approve--is one of two scenarios posed to players by the newly opened Cape Fear Escape Room. Photo by Hilary Snow.
The mystery of two young lovers–whose parents don’t approve–is one of two scenarios posed to players by the newly opened Cape Fear Escape Room. Photo by Hilary Snow.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to step back in time to uncover the mystery of two star-crossed lovers from the early twentieth century.

It’s one of two game premises posed by the newly opened Cape Fear Escape Room, 5747 A Oleander Drive, which challenges teams of players to put their heads together on a series of puzzles and brain teasers to solve mysteries and find their way back out.

The business–unique to the region but fast becoming an international craze–is running corporate bookings beginning today (Monday) and will open up to the general public Thursday.

Owners Kim and Steve Wilt decided to open Cape Fear Escape Room after a taking their family to a similar business in Toronto during a family vacation earlier this summer.

“We were looking for stuff to do with our family,” she recalled. “We have a 13-year-old and two 11-year-olds, so it’s not always easy to find something.”

The next day, they were banging on the door for more.

“It was so much fun,” Kim said. “I literally had no idea what one was. But I liked figuring something out and then being like, ‘What’s the next thing?’ There are very few things now that are surprises, that make you want to do more of it…And you’re using your brain a little bit.”

The Wilts were hooked and, already thinking about starting a local business, opted to jump on the wildly popular concept. They purchased two scenarios from a man in Romania (escape rooms are already prevalent in Europe) and tailored a bit before setting the scenes in separate rooms.

In the first, the “Time Traveler,” players enter a 1919 parlor of sorts with some photos on the wall, a desk scattered with implements and an old trunk in the corner. In the other, teams are hit with a college student’s colorful bedroom–now in disarray and dead body outline on the carpet.

The Wilts take reservations for teams of six at $26 per person but will accommodate up to 10 for an additional $21 per player. Kim said the games are good for among other things, workplace team-building, mom’s night out events and birthday parties for the middle and high school crowds.

Although it seems like nothing more than decor and set dressings, Kim said each item in the room is strategically placed, and everything you need to shatter the quagmire and escape is right there in front of you.

And there are lots of surprises along the way, although those will remain a secret between the Wilts and the writer, since unveiling them will spoil the adventure that awaits.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.