Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Great Escape Logic and Teamwork the Key to Pittsburgh's New Mystery Adventure

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Great Escape Logic and Teamwork the Key to Pittsburgh's New Mystery Adventure

Article excerpt

We were excited, even giddy, about our chances of successfully analyzing clues, riddles, puzzles and gadgets allowing us to "escape" from Dr. Stein's Laboratory, one of two Escape Room Pittsburgh attractions in Greenfield.

But as the clock on an iPad began ticking down our one-hour time limit and the exit door was locked, our group of seven Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalists initially felt lost. We fumbled around a bit. And then, Eureka! - we solved our first puzzle!

A surge shot through each of us. It was an adrenaline rush none of us foresaw - like out of nowhere finding yourself on Kennywood's Phantom's Revenge and plummeting down that second gigantic hill.

Emboldened, energized, entertained, we immediately sought another clue. After all, the clock was ticking.

*

Joe Deasy, 24, of Munhall knows that Escape Room rush. He first experienced it in Budapest, Hungary, in the summer of 2013 when he and his sister and two cousins, looking for something to do, visited one after Googling top attractions there. He immediately was hooked.

"I fell in love with it. We went back and played the second game in the afternoon and had a blast."

And he had a brainstorm: Why not open one in Pittsburgh? After all, while Escape Rooms are big in Europe and Asia, there are only about a dozen in the United States in cities such as New York, Niagara Falls, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

As soon as he touched down in the United States, he called another cousin, Corey Deasy, 32, of Greenfield, and pitched his idea. "He was skeptical at first. But after a couple of weeks of research he came around."

They searched for a suitable building and then realized there was one in Greenfield owned by their fathers that would meet their needs. Unused for 40 years and located at 569 Greenfield Ave., it's across the street from Hough's brewpub, which caters to the same demographic they were targeting - 20- and 30-somethings who like to try new things.

Since Escape Room Pittsburgh's soft opening last month, upward to 100 test groups have tried the two rooms - Dr. Stein's Laboratory, with a maximum of eight participants, and Prison Escape, with a maximum of five. The cost is $20 per person.

The cousins have attracted the desired demographic - and more. They've entertained groups ranging from 13-year-old girls to 60- year-old teachers, from families to friends and co-workers and everyone in between - including seven PG journalists.

*

Our group - fellow reporters Anya Sostek, Maria Sciullo, Jon Silver and Dan Majors, columnist Brian O'Neill, data reporter Andrew McGill and me - was making progress, even as the clock kept clicking down.

The problem solving, logic, analysis, creativity, resourcefulness and teamwork were invigorating. What it's not is scary in any way. Players are given a code to exit if there is an emergency and groups are monitored by close-circuit television. It's like being in a live version of a board game like Clue. Or on a scavenger hunt. Or part of an interactive theater production. And, yet, it's something completely different from other entertainment experiences.

Even when I'd glance at the countdown clock -"Only 40 minutes left! …

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