Escape rooms expand in Murfreesboro

By Christian Brooks, Studio M staff // 

The objective is simple: Escape within the hour. The solutions vary across the Murfreesboro area, depending on the farmhouse or laboratory the visitors are locked inside.

In the last few years, escape rooms have risen in popularity, with four located in Murfreesboro alone.

Escape rooms are equipped with clues to aid escape before the allocated time depletes. Some items are false leads or are designed to waste customers’ precious time. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

“I love playing puzzle game and I’m intrigued and thrilled to be in one live,” says Murfreesboro Escape Rooms customer Wendy Rebelak. Each business offers multiple scenarios in which customers can interact with props to solve their way to victory. Groups usually range from two to 10 players, but escape rooms are also influenced by the businesses that use them as team-building exercises.

Below, learn more about each Murfreesboro location and what it offers:

Murfreesboro Escape Rooms (1970 Medical Center Parkway, 615-900-0355, $24 per person)

“We’ve had major events happen where a company will bring 50 people through and take multiple run-throughs of each room,” said Tanner Fite, manager of Murfreesboro Escape Rooms. The business opened in April 2016, making it the first escape room business in the city.

Manager Andy Hurst says “Dinner for Two” is his business’ most popular room; the scenario is designed for couples rather than large groups.

Murfreesboro Escape Rooms has three different rooms and now dispatches “mobile escape rooms,” which are designed for large events such as church functions.  

“We’re able to go to different events … and they’re smaller than the standard escape room that you’d go to with less clues and less time,” says Fite.

60 Minute Escape (167 Mall Circle Drive, 615-900-4406, $26 per person)

60 Minute Escape offers a 1958 farmhouse and a pharaoh’s tomb as current escape environments.

“We try to make our games as immersive as possible, so if we say you’re going into the pharaoh’s chamber, it’s not a room with some Egyptian furniture. It is a cave,” said Michael Dixon, owner of 60 Minute Escape.

“The Fallout” imagines Oak Ridge, Tennessee, “on the brink of destruction” when travelers  stumble upon a farmhouse that may hold tools for survival. An upcoming room, “Frankenstein,” will have an exciting element that Dixon says he hasn’t seen implemented anywhere else.

“I want you to forget you’re in Rutherford County and say, ‘Wow! It’s already been an hour?’” Dixon says.

Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro (115 Mall Circle Drive, 615-396-8715, $28 admission)

Manager Andrew Wheeler says he often serves families in Locked’s two rooms. Wheeler says their rooms tend to be more lighthearted than others in the area, and Locked rotates the escape scenarios often.

“A lot of companies make you pay for X number of spots, and you can have the whole room. We don’t make you play with strangers,” Wheeler says. Locked is planning its eighth and ninth rooms for the Murfreesboro location, but Wheeler says he admires that the escape room business is not as much like a competition compared to other businesses.

“If you go play their rooms and have a good time, you’re probably going to come play our rooms,” he says.

EscapePoint (855 W. College St., 615-410-3077, $28 per person)

EscapePoint owner Matthew Chasteen has a background in gaming and story development. Chasteen implements twists on the escape room genre wherever he can; when locked inside “Incubation,” customers are tasked with escaping the lab as well as finding the cure for a virus amidst assorted vials of differing substances.

“If someone takes the wrong vial they may lose the ability to bend their elbows and knees for the rest of the room,” Chasteen says, teasing a host of other fun surprises.

Chasteen says living the escape experience rather than seeing a movie interests all kinds of people, especially women in their 30s and 40s. EscapePoint’s target audience was originally businesses, but Chasteen says he enjoys the energy his customers have.

Christian Brooks studies Visual Communication and Psychology at Middle Tennessee State University.