WILMINGTON — There’s an ancient mystery brewing in Carolina Beach, one that will test the physical and intellectual skills of those involved. But, do you have what it takes to break the “Pharaoh’s Curse?”
At iEscape Rooms, you’ll have the chance to find out. The new business, located at 100 N. Lake Park Blvd., brings a twist to the classic escape room game, offering “themed mysteries” to solve before you’re able to “escape” to victory.
Owner Aaron Dean describes it as an “immersive, interactive adventure,” designed to test the cooperative skills of teams ranging in size from four to 12 players.
“We trap you in a room, full of puzzles, clues, locks and different things,” Dean said. “You have 60 minutes, and you have got to take all the information you see, all the puzzles and clues, and figure out how to get out.”
According to Dean, the idea for iEscape came after visiting another room with friends and his family. After a successful escape, the family got to talking and thought this might be something they could do.
“I just really thought that we could do this,” Dean said. “But, we could do it better.”
In January, the Deans began looking for a location to launch their business. After some research, the Deans decided to settle in Carolina Beach. The business opened at the end of July in a 2,500 Sq. ft. building, away from the other escape rooms in Wilmington.
What set’s them apart from the competition, according to Dean, are the themed rooms, as well as the difficulty of the experience, which can be catered to a group’s size and participants’ ages.
“Our success rate is … not very high,” Dean said with a laugh. “And we’re being judged, we’ve actually had the owners from some of the other escape rooms in town come try us out, and even they said this was one of the more difficult rooms they’d attempted.”
‘The Pharaoh’s Curse’
Currently, iEscape is operating a single room, but Dean said he is busy working on a second room. Eventually, Dean hopes to expand, offering even more of these “mysteries” to keep participants on their toes.
The current theme is “The Pharaohs Curse,” which takes you back on a fictitious adventure to the 1920s, just after the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb.
“After 30 years of digging around Egypt, Archaeologist Howard Carter has discovered King Tut’s tomb,” Dean said. “One night, Carter went back into the tomb do some investigations, and was never seen or heard from again.
“Locals say he fell victim to the curse of the Pharaohs, which is that if you enter the Pharaoh’s tomb, you can only exit the Pharaoh’s exit. The problem is, no one knows where the exit is, and it’s up to you to figure it out…otherwise you get cursed.”
The story picks up in Carter’s foot steps, as you and your team begin in his camp after dark. The room is nearly pitch black, with only the light of small period lanterns to guide your way.
Once inside the tent, participants must carefully comb the room, searching for clues that range from keys to locked items, to puzzles, and objects needed for later steps. Each team is allotted three clues from the outside, which vary depending on how far along you’ve made it.
According to Dean, the overall quest is broken into two parts, with the first being more “physical,” and the second being mental.
“Some of it’s brain drain, some of it’s as simple as observing and doing something,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s not about smarts, so much as its observance skills and common sense. It’s teamwork, a lot of communication, and organization.”
Teams that succeed in the first portion of the escape room will find themselves in a small, dimly lit hallway, which eventually leads to the tomb of King Tut.
From here, the game gets harder. This room is nearly barren, other than the sarcophagus of the “boy king,” guarded by his solemn Anubis guards. Hieroglyphics adorn the walls, and there is no clear exit for escape.
“In our case, the exit isn’t readily visible,” Dean said. “So, you really have to find it, then figure out how to get out.”
The event is designed for participants of all ages, having seen players as young as 7 compete, and as old as 80. The escape room opens at 2 p.m., and while walk-ins are welcome, it’s recommended to reserve your spot online.
iEscape also offers birthday party packages, in addition to corporate events. Pricing varies depending on the size of the event. For information, contact at iEscape Rooms at (910) 707-3948, or firstname.lastname@example.org.