Jul 9, 2023 - Things to Do

Unlock thrills at Escapology Tampa

Promotional image from Escapology

Photo: Courtesy of Escapology Tampa

I grew up watching "Scooby-Doo," and the excitement of seeing meddling kids uncover a mystery never wore off.

  • I've found a few ways to scratch that itch through the years: I've cracked my fair share of murder mystery games and watched all the "Scream" films — yes, even the bad ones.

State of play: When escape rooms started popping up more than a decade ago, I, like countless others, was excited — and I stuck around, too. Even when companies inundated them for "bonding exercises."

  • Now, some escape rooms have struck major license deals with Warner Brothers and other studios, and include hidden passageways, magic wands, and introduction videos with impressive production value.

How it works: Players are confined to a room or two — each with distinct designs, like a haunted mansion or a castle. They are then given an hour to find clues and solve riddles to escape.

The big picture: Escape rooms have not been considered the trendiest form of entertainment for some time, but across Tampa Bay, where the weather's gotten hotter and wetter, these companies keep popping up.

  • Escapology — which has more than 70 venues around the globe and over 25 in development — opened a location in August near Tampa's Armature Works.
  • Game Over Escape Rooms, a company with locations from the U.K. to Saudi Arabia, started opening venues in Tampa Bay three years ago. They opened two last fall; one in Brandon and another in Plant City.

What they're saying: "It's a great opportunity for people to come together to form and further bonds, communication, and a deeper level of trust within one another," Maansi Dang, a manager for Escapology Tampa, told Axios.

  • "The beach still wins most days. But for days that are especially rainy or especially hot, we do see an influx of customers," Cameron Krstonich, an employee at Game Over's Brandon venue, told Axios.
  • "It's like stepping onto a movie set," Krstonich, who considers himself an enthusiast, added. "That's a huge draw for me."

Zoom in: I tested Escapology's latest escape room, "Who Stole Mona?" which opened in late June. The room resembles an art gallery and is packed with hidden items.

  • I unlocked umpteen safes, completed countless puzzles, and bear-crawled on the hardwood floor to avoid laser trip wires. I escaped with around five minutes left and retrieved the stolen "Mona Lisa."

The verdict: I walked out feeling like a hero.

Mona Lisa escape room
"Who Stole Mona?" Photo: Courtesy of Escapology Tampa
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