“The Haunted Audition” is the first replacement room for the popular Bel Air attraction and comes less than a year after the business opened.
Only one group has successfully ‘escaped’ the new room since its debut in July.
Harford County seems to have found the key to a good time and it’s at Great Escapes Harford in Bel Air. The county’s first escape room has been so well-received as an entertainment venue, the owners opened the first replacement room in July—a full three months ahead of schedule. The latest adventure is called “The Haunted Audition” and to date only one group has been able to complete all its puzzles within an hour, which means it has the highest level of difficulty of all the current rooms at the business.
According to Great Escape Harford’s owners, the earlier date for opening of the room was prompted by feedback from players. Owner Chris Cole says, “From our very first weekend in business, no matter which room was played and no matter if they escaped or not; visitors were eager to try another adventure. In fact, many came back and completed all three rooms within six months. So, although initially we had anticipated changing the first round of rooms after a year, our guests’ enthusiasm motivated us to accelerate that schedule.”
Cole notes that it takes months of planning to design and implement a new game room, from the puzzles he constructs himself to finding specific room décor to writing the storyline and more. Together with his wife Katie, they collaborate on every detail. He explains, “It’s a very involved process–not like a kit we just set up. Our games are completely unique and the props and accessories are highly customized, so opting to open ahead of schedule was not a decision we took lightly.”
Great Escapes opened in September of 2016 with three rooms: “The Dressing Room”, “The Pharaoh’s Chamber” and “The Killer’s Lair.” The Dressing Room hosted its last players on July 1. Speaking on why it was the first room to be replaced, Katie Cole says, “Since we already had a magician-themed room, it made sense to continue the story and see what happens next with the magician character we created. Of course, it’s a completely different set of puzzles and the room has a whole new look, plus it’s much more difficult. But we have learned that the more challenging a room is the better that escape room enthusiasts like it.”
The number and complexity of puzzles, along with maximum participant capacity, are factors which affect solvability for escape rooms. The Haunted Audition has the greatest number of puzzles of the three current themes at the business, and is also built for the least number of players. Of their other escape rooms difficulty levels, Katie Cole states, “We don’t rank room difficulty on our website due to the variations in players’ personal experiences playing escape rooms and the fact that we don’t limit the number of clues that can be requested to help solve each challenge. However, that said, we generally advise guests that The Pharaoh’s Chamber is mid-range difficulty level and The Killer’s Lair has the highest rate of escapes.”
The couple won’t reveal when and which room will be the next replaced but Chris Cole admits that production is underway and hints it will likely take place before the end of the year. The announcement of the new room will be made on the business’ Facebook page.
The recommended age to play at Great Escapes Harford is 14 but families of all ages are welcomed. (Minors must be accompanied by a paying adult chaperone.) Room capacity varies from six to 10 people with no minimum number of players required. All mysteries must be solved within one hour to win. [Note: Participants must navigate through locked spaces but an exit is always available.] For more details about the rooms and to book a game visit www.GreatEscapesHarford.com.
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 is open Thursday through Sunday with special hours for groups of 10 or more players available by appointment. Tickets are $27 each and must be purchased online in advance.