Testing their problem solving skills, wannabe escapees are breaking out of traps set by owners of The Great Escape.
When the door closes behind you at Waxahachie’s The Great Escape, you’ve got 60 minutes to work out the clues hidden in the room, solve problems that riddle the scene and gradually work your way out of the trap that’s been set.
That’s the premise of the escape room adventure concept that local resident Jackie Coffey has brought from the big city to Waxahachie in her family-run entertainment venture that opened in November 2019 at 791 North Highway 77 in Waxahachie, next to Harbor Freight.
Having visited a Dallas-area escape room with her family, she and daughter Bella thought that Waxahachie needed more things to do, so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work on the idea, joined by Jackie’s mother, Rossy.
Of the seven rooms planned for the escape room adventure, Jackie says the first four are ready and have already been a hit with the escapees that have come through the door.
“The first one is Mario, which is like the 1985 version the original Mario, and it’s inspired by that. And the goal in that room is to figure out how to get into the castle, save the princess and then get out before Boswer finds you,” Jackie says. “And then the next one that we have is Funhouse. And it’s really fun. It’s like a scary adventure that takes place in an old carnival ground, and then you get trapped in the funhouse by the clowns and you have to escape before they find you. But, it’s not gory. It’s more like carnival. It’s not like a haunted house. That one’s really fun. Everyone likes that little thing to kind of scare you, but it’s not actually gory.
“And then we have Avalanche. And in that one, you are on a vacation, and you get word that an avalanche is coming. So you have to get into your cabin, get your ski equipment and then get out before the avalanche hits.
“And then the last one I just finished building is Emerald Excavation and that’s where you’re trapped, and you have to find the emerald and get out before you run out of oxygen.”
Jackie says the escapes appeal to people of all ages, from toddlers to people in their 70s, and no matter who’s playing, a clue master will break in and help with hints if anyone gets stuck.
“As they’re playing, the clue master can hear everything they’re doing and they can see everything they’re doing. So if they get stuck, or they don’t know what to do, they can ask for a clue and the clue master will give them a step in the right direction,” Jackie says.
Jackie says the concept attracts birthday parties, couples on a date, businesses owners who want to build teamwork skills among their employees, and groups of friends who just want to do something different.
As to the clues, Jackie says the way out of a room may involve what appears to be a random time on a clock, a button hidden out of view, or clues that are right in front of participants but are easily overlooked. Each clue builds on another until escapees get just the right sequence and finally overcome the challenge.
The Great Escape has been a family-run business from the beginning, Jackie says. She builds the room, her mom Rossy paints, decorates and staffs the front desk, and her daughter Bella trains employees and serves as the clue master.
As for what inspired them to bring the idea to Waxahachie, Jackie says Bella was the impetus.
“When she was 12, I took her to an escape room in Mesquite. And she’s like ‘Mom, I think you should open one of these here.’ So, I kind of came back, checked the numbers, and I was like, ‘I think it’ll work really well in Waxahachie,’ and there’s not a whole lot to do like this. So, I went over everything, and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it’ and opened one pretty much because of her.
The Great Escape is open during the week by appointment, and 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The cost $28 per person.
On the agenda to be built in the coming months, says Jackie, is a concept called Party Time that involves being transported back to a 1990s-era party, Plankton’s Revenge where participants solve clues to steal a secret formula, and Compression, about which Jackie is reticent on the details.
“The Great Escape is the 60-minute adventure that engages all of your senses in a movie-like setting. You get to choose from a whole bunch of different themes. And then you have to find hidden clues that are either hidden or hiding in plain sight to see if you can get out,” says Jackie in summary.