Escape room games come to Bayside

By Tom Momberg

Bayside is now home to a new game that has grown in popularity in Manhattan in the past few years: the escape room.

Players, whether a family, a group of friends or a set of complete strangers, are given a set amount of time to solve a conundrum.

Locked in a room, they have no choice but to try to work together to figure it out before they can escape.

“When you know you cannot get out, it immediately ups the anxiety level,” co-owner Chris Purcell said. “But often, groups of strangers are the best at solving the problems, because they each come from different perspectives. Families might all be on the same level and think similarly, but when there are several different people with different backgrounds and sets of skills, they just take five minutes to test each other out, and work together to test all aspects of the puzzle.”

After experiencing the game for the first time in March, Purcell, his wife Janice Galizia and her sister Lauren Galizia thought the enigmatic, suspenseful puzzles would be something many Queens residents would come to if it were right in their backyard.

Challenge Escape Rooms, 40-18 Bell Blvd., currently offers two different escape rooms for a couple of unique challenges.

“The unsolved case” gives players 60 minutes to come up with the evidence to convict a criminal suspect before they are set free in society. And “the virus” requires players to determine the antidote for a virus that will completely consume them if they do not do so within 60 minutes.

“Of course, collaboration is an important skill to have,” Lauren Galizia said. “We have been contacted by a few schools and businesses that want to come in to use the games as team-building exercises. It’s really great for the professional environment, and is a truly eye-opening experience. Working together to solve the puzzle in front of you is all about getting through your own frustrations with each other.”

Purcell and Galazia said they are in the process of changing over one of the rooms for a game appropriate for Halloween. They want to change the games every four or five months to keep customers coming back, but they said they would always keep the themes age- and family-friendly.

The room is locked for each group of players until the puzzle is complete, but staff members monitor the room through audio and video monitors.

The maximum number of people taken into a game at a time is 10. The Escape Rooms are mostly open for scheduling Thursday and Friday evenings and weekends, by appointment only. But people can book a game at least two hours in advance.

Tickets are $28 per person, and $25 per person for groups of eight to 10 people. Rooms are appropriate and challenging for all ages.

For more information, call (516) 888-0202, or visit www.challengeescaperooms.com to book a game.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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