Test sleuthing skills in West Palm Beach escape room


By AARON WORMUSaaron_bio_pic
Exclusive to Palms West Monthly
Posted March 6, 2017

Do you like challenging puzzles? Have you ever played an adventure video game? Do you enjoy working with friends (or strangers) to complete a mission? If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you’ll love a visit to one of our Downtown West Palm Beach escape rooms.

Two companies that offer escape room experiences downtown are Legends of Xscape at 324 Datura St. and The Great Escapist at 209 S. Olive Ave.

Perfect for dates, family and friends as well as corporate and team building, escape rooms cost around $30 per person and take about an hour to complete. Make sure that you book ahead of time as escape rooms are popular and are often booked up weeks in advance.

So, you may ask what exactly is an escape room? Well, let’s take a virtual trip to Legends of Xscape. Don’t worry, I won’t give away any spoilers.

The entrance is fairly non-descript as you enter into the newly-renovated office building. The lobby contains games and puzzles that you can try solving while you wait for the rest of your group to show up or for a room to become available. Once everyone is ready to go, you’re shown to one of the seven rooms and you start your adventure.

Each of the rooms at Legends of Xscape offers a different themed adventure and unique back story and difficulty level. To escape from the room, you have to work with others in your group to find clues and solve puzzles before time runs out (typically 60 minutes). If you need help, there’s a TV set in each room through which you can communicate with the organizers. If you’re stuck, just ask for a hint and one will be provided.

When you finally manage to escape, you get to take pictures and brag to your friends on social media about your most recent escape room exploits.

I recently talked with Jody Achilles, who opened Legends of Xscape with her husband Jamie two years ago. The escape room was the first in Palm Beach County and one of the first four to open in South Florida. Since then, the industry has taken off and there are now over 40 companies who offer escape rooms between Palm Beach County and Miami.

“My husband and I completed our first escape room in Miami a year prior to opening Legends of Xscape,” said Achilles. “We were looking for something engaging to do outside of the normal bar scene and were instantly addicted.”

“The games are highly addictive and the more rooms you do the more you want,” she added. “Escape room enthusiasts travel around South Florida. West Palm Beach is interesting as it’s not very touristy, but it brings a lot of people visiting families. We love families, as we love creating memories.”

Most escape rooms are operated locally, and in most cases independently from each other. This means that no two escape room scenarios are exactly alike. Escape room owners often design their own rooms and puzzles or get help from local companies that specialize in creating escape rooms.

Gabriel Goldstein, founder of Anidea Engineering, recently expanded his West Palm Beach-based business to include building escape room electronics. He found an immediate need for their high-tech gadgets and puzzles.

“We work directly with escape room owners. They come to us with an idea and we brainstorm and we use our 15 years of experience in entertainment technology to bring it to life,” said Goldstein.

“We have been playing video games for decades, and this is a real-life video game with human interaction,” he added. “You get to do it with your friends, it gets you outside, moving and thinking.”

The fun thing about escape rooms is that each one is challenging in different ways. We’ve visited both Legends of Xscape and The Great Escapist multiple times. The first time was just for fun to see what it was about and the next time it was for a birthday party. When family came into town we took them for their first escape room experience. They were instantly hooked.

Even though we are now “seasoned veterans” of escape rooms, we have not yet conquered all the rooms downtown. Each visit has been unique and satisfying and a great new experience.

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