LAYTON — How fast can you escape?
That’s the challenge of The Great Room Escape, which held its official ribbon-cutting recently. Guests can come test their intelligence and observational skills against two different themed escape rooms, both of which are designed to give guests an immersive experience in the fantasy realm of whatever room they’ve chosen.
“You can go to some that are very simple in design, but others have Disneyland effects,” said Andy Wilson, one of the partners behind the Layton location. “We feel like we’re Disneyland. You don’t have to just imagine you’re in a decrepit mansion – you’re in a decrepit mansion. It smells like it. It feels like it.”
Currently, The Great Room Escape has two rooms in operation – a Houdini-themed room, and a zombie-themed room. Though the Houdini room has no time limit, the zombie room has a ravening zombie that is given more and more access to the room as the hour time limit ticks down.
“My favorite thing has always been bringing people together to have a memorable experience,” said Greg Andersen, one of the partners behind the Layton location. “I want people to still be talking about it after they’ve left.”
A third room, where guests will be in an abandoned-looking cabin in the middle of the woods, is currently under construction. In all three rooms, guests are asked to work together to find clues and solve a series of puzzles that will help them escape the room.
“Everyone forgets (to work together),” said Wilson. “They get in the game and don’t talk, but communication is key.”
Unlike many escape rooms, both of the ones at The Great Room Escape also have actors stationed inside. Both play parts within the room’s story, allowing for greater guest interaction and some on-seen supervision that doesn’t interrupt the story.
“Improv is the first thing you’ll need, because you never know what you’ll run into,” said Jacob Andersen, one of the actors in the zombie room. “We’ve had all different sorts of people come in.”
In some cases, that’s part of the appeal for performers.
“It’s a different experience every time, and I’ve never been one for monotony,” said Mari Satterthwaite, who plays Houdini’s wife Bess in the Houdini room. “If the guests need help, I’m here to give it to them.”
Of course, you can’t always trust everything her character says.
“If they’d doing too good, I find the red herrings for them,” she said with a smile. “They can never tell which.”
The effects for the rooms are controlled from a central room, which has video monitors allowing anyone in there to see from different angles. Cody Rasmussen, the controller, will help the actors in the rooms keep an eye on the guests and make sure everything moves smoothly.
“It’s a pretty consistent pace for most groups in the Houdini room,” he said. “The zombie room is the one that varies quite a bit.”
The room also controls the effects for both escape rooms.
“We control everything in there,” said Ty Chaston, the third partner behind the Layton location. “We have door knockers on the doors and poppers on the electrical boxes. It’s DC current, so it doesn’t hurt anyone, but the reaction is just phenomenal.”
For more information or to purchase tickets and schedule a time for one of the rooms, visit greatroomescape.com/locations and click on the “Layton, Utah” links.