Ballarat escape room founder Sam Mannix is seeing double with plans to move and expand his entertainment business.
His Escapade Puzzle Room, which opened in Albert St more than two years ago, has outgrown its current home and a permit application has been lodged ahead of a planned move to new premises in Curtis Street.
The new location, the former Ballarat Drill Hall and Ranger Barracks building, will allow Mr Mannix to run two themed puzzle rooms at the same time, and allow him to change the themes of the rooms more often.
Escape rooms, or puzzle rooms, are a “live action adventure” where people enter a room with a set time limit, usually 60 minutes, to use their combined brainpower to solve a series of puzzles and clues to resolve a mysterious case or escape from the room.
Since opening in June 2016, Mr Mannix said up to 2000 teams of two to five people had escaped or attempted to escape from his fiendishly themed rooms.
“Our current theme – The Lost Temple – has had more than 500 teams compete to escape the room,” he said.
Mr Mannix said the theme had changed several times over the years but he was keen to run two different rooms at once, offering more experiences for visitors.
“We are moving to a new site so we can have more than one theme running at the same time, and change themes over more regularly,” he said.
The new premises will allow Mr Mannix to run two escape rooms and have associated office space, something he does not have at the current room at the Young People’s Hall in Albert St.
The current Escapade Puzzle Room will close on October 27 with the opening date of the new location to be determined when the planning application for a “place of assembly” is approved.
“We will just be waiting on that for our opening date, and will be in the process of setting everything up.”
Mr Mannix said it cost several thousand dollars per room for props, construction, decorations, clues and dressing to create an immersive experience for puzzlers.
“It really varies depending on the theme you choose and how deep you go with props and the quality of work you put in with it,” he said.
When the new building opens, Escapade’s original themed room Dr Skinner’s Office, a murder-mystery in which a series of brutal murders leads the team to the psychiatrists’ office and challenges them to use the clues they find to identify the next victim before it’s too late, will make a short comeback along with a “top secret” new theme.
“It will be really nice for people to have the experience and be able to do another one sooner rather than later.”
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