on Wednesday, December 28, 2016
No. We’re not talking about escaping the chill and snow of the Cedar Valley. This is Escape Cedar Valley, a hub of entertaining escape rooms where you must solve a mystery, steal a diamond or defuse a bomb before it detonates (because you’re a secret agent, of course) and before time runs out.
What is an escape room? They say escape rooms are the real-life version of a video game, or at least inspired by them. Like a point-and-click video game, you and your teammates are the main characters (playing yourselves) of a story based on a themed room. Together, you must use the elements in a “locked” room to escape it within a set period of time. You’ll need to interpret clues and solve a variety of puzzles.
(The Diamond Robbery photo courtesy - Escape Cedar Valley)
Escape rooms are gaining in popularity. According to USA Today’s 10Best.com, the first escape room opened in Japan in 2008. Since then, rooms have popped up throughout Asia and the United States. In 2015, there were 2,800 worldwide. In Iowa, seven companies offer escape rooms.
Entering their second year of business, Escape Cedar Valley has a choice of three experiences. These include The Diamond Robbery, Jailbreak Season 2 and U.S.I.C.A.T. Special Agent. The rooms are unique to Escape Cedar Valley and were designed by owners Dave and Julie Betz. A lot of time and thought goes into designing an escape room. A room goes through phases of design, creation and testing over a period of 4-5 months before it's ready for the public.
When we asked Dave whether he could suggest a strategy for their rooms, he said, “The best thing to do is to divide and conquer. Follow each other and check each other’s work.” You may search and discover nothing while someone checking a part of the room after you may see three things.
(Jailbreak Season 2 at Escape Cedar Valley)
Why play? This is great entertainment that comes with a bit of bragging rights…or not. Each game has its own escape rate. Currently, for Escape Cedar Valley, the escape rates are 20% for Jailbreak Season 2, 38% for Special Agent and 26% for Diamond Robbery. Pick your poison.
So you think you’re interested in trying this new adventure? Signing up is easy. Visit Escape Cedar Valley and click Book Now. Choose a room, select a time slot and pay to reserve your time. Rooms were created for eight people so if you have a group of six, a couple may join you that you don’t know. Don’t worry. You’ll likely leave as friends. It’s a bonding experience. Did we mention that kids age 11 and older are also welcome to join the fun? You’d be surprised what kids notice that grown-ups don’t see.
Escape rooms are great for a family activity and a place to take out-of-town guests, they're also a good team building experience for businesses. At Escape Cedar Valley, 15-20% of their business is team-building. Or, as Dave puts it, “Team building is socializing and a good time. Personalities are exaggerated when in the room and this leads to good discussion. Nothing is evaluated formally; a room just leads to good discussion and fun.”
Escape Cedar Valley has a strong following with visitors from all 50 states and overseas. Would we say it’s worth the Drive? Check out their map of visitors:
(Visitors to Escape Cedar Valley)
Are you ready to take on the challenge? It’s not just a game, it’s an experience!
Escape Cedar Valley is located at 114 E. 4th Street, Suite 101, in downtown Cedar Falls and they can be reached at 319-290-7498.
Cost is $25-27/person (plus tax) depending on the day of the week
Book online at Escape Cedar Valley
If you’re visiting from out of town, the Cedar Falls Visitor Center would be happy to help you find a place to Eat & Drink and a Place to Stay. We’re located at 6510 Hudson Road and we can be reached at 800-845-1955 or 319-268-4266.