KINGSTON — A love of brain games and the rush of a good challenge motivated a Hanover Township couple to establish the first escape room in Luzerne County.
Stephanie and Anthony Johnson will open the doors to E5C4PE Nov. 2. The business at 265 Wyoming Ave. offers two distinctly themed escape rooms and four, one-hour sessions in each room Wednesday through Sunday.
“We went to the escape rooms in Scranton and Dickson City and got addicted to them,” Johnson said. “We wanted to open one down here because there’s really not one in the Wilkes-Barre area for people to go to. We wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.”
Escape room enthusiasts have the choice of registering for Santa’s Workshop or Conundrum. Each hour session costs $25, and patrons can pre-register by visiting E5C4PE.com or calling 570-497-6842. Session blocks are 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., 6 to 7 p.m., 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m.
Stephanie said walk-ins are welcome but pre-registered customers will be accommodated first.
Santa’s Workshop introduces E5C4PE to customers with a timely holiday theme, Stephanie said. The story takes place on Christmas Eve when Santa has forgotten a toy for a deserving child. Participants must find the toy and exit the room before time expires to make someone’s Christmas.
Conundrum, Stephanie said, is a different take on an escape room based on a mobile phone game app she and Anthony enjoy.
“Most rooms have some kind of back story, where this one doesn’t,” Stephanie said. “It’s geared toward solving a lot of puzzles and different mind games.”
Santa’s Workshop has a minimum of two participants and a maximum of eight while Conundrum has a minimum of two and a maximum of six. Groups can end up mingling with other groups unless they book the maximum number of participants.
Brian McDonald, of Plains Township, has recently gone to escape rooms in Amsterdam and Salem, Mass.
“We had a great time at both of them,” McDonald said. “In Salem, they put two other people in there with our group of four. We had a great time with complete strangers. It makes everybody work together.”
McDonald said he enjoyed following a thread of clues that lead to one another and eventually to a final solution. He said he would definitely attend an escape room in Kingston.
Stephanie wants E5C4PE to be an exciting addition to the entertainment available in the Wyoming Valley and hopes customers are drawn to its convenient location.
“I hope (customers) have fun doing it and want to come back and try other themes that we’ll have going forward,” Stephanie said.
McDonald said failing to complete a room makes a customer want to return, but finishing a room would close the door on that theme for him.
“If they’re changing themes, that would be awesome,” McDonald said of the potential for E5C4PE.
The Johnsons suggest their escape rooms for couples on a date, groups of friends and even groups of co-workers looking to engage in a team-building exercise.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts