On Friday, April 20, Nate Woods and Laura Creekmore will present an invention of their minds’ creation through a new community event. The Escape Room debut party will be held at the Helipad performance and arts venue, located at 239 West Center St., and will feature music, puzzles, prizes and more, as attendees become part of the game upon arrival.
“Imagine yourself in a live action video game, where you must interact with items in the room, other players, and the room itself to complete your objective. The objective is, generally, escaping the room,” Woods said. “It’s also important to know that there is always an open door, so, despite the fact that you’re trying to escape the room, you could leave at any time.”
Escape rooms are quickly gaining popularity around the country. They involve a single- or multi-player game where participants are locked in a room and have to solve puzzles to get out.
“Escape rooms are becoming today what video arcades were in the 1980s and what skate rinks were in the 1980s and 1990s, and we have no idea where the industry is going to go because it’s so new,” continued Woods. “Before 2012 there were zero escape rooms in America, and now there are over 2,000.”
Woods believes his escape room will be popular in Moab not only because the idea has taken off elsewhere, but also because it serves a gap in the city’s activity scene, “I know from working at the zipline that there are a lot of people who don’t get to participate in some of the activities in Moab. If you’re in a wheelchair you’re pretty limited to what kind of fun you can have in Moab. The deaf and blind also often get left out,” Woods said. He also asked, “What about Moab’s nightlife? Some don’t drink, so besides hopping to the bar, what is there to do?”
Woods began working on his escape room in preparation for a friends and family event he put on for Halloween 2017. It was such a success that he and his partner, Creekmore, decided to see where the idea would take them. Since then, the two have constructed a 30-foot by 10-foot mobile escape room and designed a number of puzzles that can be played in the space.
“We built it like a movie scene,” explained Woods. “Every piece of the escape room has been built by hand. We built it out of our backyard. A lot of thanks to the neighbors who have not called the police on us for noise violations.”
According to Woods, the escape room can be transported and assembled virtually anywhere.
Jacque Miller, who will be volunteering at the debut party, believes the escape room will be a hit in Moab.
“I think once people come and check out what they have to offer, and the collaboration of those two wonderful minds, they are going to have their work cut out for them,” Miller said of Woods and Creekmore. “There are going to be a lot of people who want to participate multiple times because what they’ve put together is so clever. It’s something the whole family can do together.”
The April 20 event will take place at the Helipad from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the room assembled in a field behind the building. Participants will have five opportunities to play the escape room game, which will take place every 45 minutes and cost $10 per person. A free event at Helipad that night will feature a performance by the Fiery Furnace Marching Band, food from the Moab Kitchen food truck and a musical set by DJ Cozy Soul.
“The moment you walk in the door and get your wristband, you’ll be part of the game,” Woods said. “Your level of participation will be completely up to you. The types of games will vary. We’ve got problem-solving, team building, all kinds of interactive play that can go a long way.”
Escape Moab will provide rooms by reservation throughout the summer, and the company hopes to expand by offering a number of private, themed escape room experiences. The hope, Wood said, is to eventually build a permanent location.
“The goal is obviously to no longer be a mobile escape room and to be able to build and have a permanent location. This year is kind of a fundraiser for that,” explained Woods.
Though this event is for those ages 21 and up, Woods plans to put on more family-friendly events in the future. “In July we’re going to be showcasing an event for children ... and how Escape Moab can be a space for everyone.”
More information on Escape Moab can be found online at escapemoab.com, and on Facebook at facebook.com/escapemoab.