A local family is opening Harford County’s first escape room attraction this month.
Harford County is well-known for hosting all kinds of sporting events, but now there’s a whole new game in town for visitors and residents: “Great Escapes Harford,” the area’s first escape room attraction, will open in Bel Air this month. The latest trend in interactive entertainment and popular all over the world, escape room games challenge players to find and use clues in a themed room in order to solve a series of puzzles and “escape” within a set time. Great Escapes Harford will have three different adventures to play, beginning with “The Pharaoh’s Chamber,” “The Killer’s Lair” and “The Magician’s Dressing Room.” The business is located at 2108 Emmorton Road in the Shops at Bel Air South. For additional information about the rooms and to reserve a game, visit www.GreatEscapesHarford.com.
Harford County residents Chris and Katie Cole own Great Escapes Harford and have been working towards opening the business since February. They will run the operation with their children, extended family and a small staff. The couple cites their own experience at an escape room in 2015 as inspiration for opening the venue. Katie Cole says, “With kids ranging in age from 14-22, it is challenging to find an activity all of us can enjoy. We tried an escape room while on vacation last summer and when everyone from the oldest to the youngest had a good time, we were hooked. Our business will give families like ours, and anyone who enjoys solving mysteries and puzzles, a new local option for something fun and different to do.”
According to Chris Cole, escape rooms are not only good activities for families, but also for couples on dates, gatherings of friends and corporate team building events. He feels the rooms would make unique senior citizens’ outings, scouting trips and school excursions too, stating, “Escape rooms are a very interesting way for a group to spend an afternoon or evening. There are no special skills or equipment required and every participant gets a chance to contribute since players have to work together in order to escape. Whether your party wins or not, you will be talking about the experience long afterward, and probably be eager to test your logic skills in another game.”
Based on the “escape the room” video game series, the first real world escape rooms opened in Asia and Western Europe in 2006 and still draw crowds. By 2015, more than 2,800 rooms had opened in nearly every country on the globe, including the United States. In fact, the U.S. now offers more escape room locations than anywhere else, which is good news for game enthusiasts: fans of escape rooms enjoy playing so much they often seek out new escape rooms using international directories. Great Escapes Harford will be the first of its kind in Harford County and is already featured in three online escape room guides.
The Coles feel the absence of similar venues in the vicinity will add to the appeal of Great Escapes. Katie Cole explains, “So many people we talked and worked with during the business development process had not heard of the concept of an escape room, but every individual was very intrigued by it; so we are excited to bring this kind of entertainment option to our hometown. We have worked really hard to make our game rooms truly one-of-a-kind, with original storylines, hand-built puzzles, customized decorations and special effects that will take you by surprise. Whether you live in Harford County or are a guest, we hope a visit to Great Escapes will amuse you, make you think, and keep you guessing until time runs out.”
To play at Great Escapes Harford the owners recommend participants are at least 14 years old. (All minors must be accompanied by a paying adult chaperone.) Groups from six to 10 people will be placed in a room and become active participants in a fictional story. They have to work together to find clues in the space, then use logic and props to unscramble a series of puzzles and find the keys to escape. Players can request additional clues for assistance, which are sent via closed circuit TV. All mysteries must be solved within one hour in order to win. [Note: Participants have to navigate through locked spaces but an exit is always available.]
Great Escapes Harford is located at 2108 Emmorton Road in the Shops at Bel Air South. Entrances are located off of Bel Air South Parkway and Emmorton Road with free parking in front of the building. The business will be open Thursday through Sunday beginning mid-September. Tickets are $27 each and must be purchased online in advance at www.GreatEscapesHarford.com.
About Great Escapes Harford (www.GreatEscapesHarford.com)
Great Escapes Harford is the first escape room to open in Harford County, MD. The business was founded in 2016 as Great Escapes Fallston, LLC by Harford County residents Chris and Katie Cole. The venue features three themed gamed rooms that challenge players to work together using logic and clues in the space to unscramble puzzles and codes in order to solve a mystery and find keys or combinations that “unlock” the doors to the rooms.