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Denver’s Epic Escape Game is a Rush of Frantic, Creative Family Fun

When my 14-year-old son unlocked the door allowing us to escape with a mere 12 seconds left, it was such an incredible rush I half-expected someone to present a cardboard check to us for one million dollars. It’s okay that didn’t happen. The rush of beating a room at Denver’s Epic Escape Game was reward in itself. We had just spent the past hour working together solving multiple puzzles to unravel a mystery and it was a total blast.

Escape game houses and rooms are opening up around the nation, first springing up on the coasts. Now, Denver has several options for families to explore. The idea behind the craze is simple: Families, coworkers, friends, and even strangers must work together as a team to escape a themed room within a certain time limit. The rooms are packed with puzzles and challenges that require quick-thinking, wit, trivia knowledge, skill, and maybe a bit of daring. As you gather clues, you come closer to escaping the locked room as a timer ticks.

epicescapegamedenver_1But don’t worry! If you don’t escape, you won’t find yourself in suspended animation. You’ll be let out. There is no penalty for not escaping other than holding up silly signs for photos when you’re through. If you do escape, not only will you find your team dancing and screaming, you’ll earn the right to brag, hold triumphant signs for photo ops, and strut through the rest of your day high-fiving each other.

Epic Escape Game Denver is very family friendly. It’s situated in a historic brick Victorian near downtown Denver. The atmosphere naturally lends itself to mystery. The house has five themed rooms of varying difficulty. The owners, Ron Subaba and Michelle Fleming, created, built, and assembled every puzzle and clue. It’s a true labor of love. You can tell they not only love this form of gaming, they deeply respect the art and science of solving puzzles and problems. They are very nice, friendly, and tons of fun.

For our Epic Escape Game experience, we chose the “The Grand Theater presenting: The Mustache Thief” room, which was rated moderately difficult. I cannot (and will not!) give away spoilers regarding the room or the clues we gathered, but it was thoughtfully done with the perfect mix of challenges for families with older kids. The owners of Epic Escape Games recommend ages 12 and up for most of the rooms. Players should possess the ability to deduce, think, remember, search, and work together. The beauty of our hour looking for the Mustache Thief’s prized tool of the trade was that everyone possesses different problem solving strengths.

The easiest room at Epic Escape Game is “Toys in the Attic” which is fittingly located on the top floor of the Victorian house. It is geared toward families with younger children. The puzzles and games naturally require teamwork. Imagine how fun and cool it would be watching your elementary school kids solve their way out with your helpful encouragement.

The “Pikes Peak or Bust: Colorado’s Gold Rush” is themed as a mountain cabin. It’s the most difficult room at Epic Escape Game, incorporating local history in a nod to Colorado’s storied pioneer past. As of now, it only has a 17% escape rate. Even if you don’t escape, imagine how much bigger your brain will be when you’re done.

“Dorm of the Dead” brings together zombies and college. Can you make it from the chemistry lab to your dorm room using your mad skills in this moderate to difficult room? Or will you be Zombie Chow? (actual zombies present only in your imagination)

Finally, “The Other Side” is the spookiest escape room and also in the running for most challenging with a 10% escape rate. But don’t look at those numbers as reason to not try. You can do it! Look at them as something to rock with your loved ones, friends, or coworkers.

One of the nicest features at Epic Escape Games is that if you are truly stuck, help is near. Every team can request up to two clues over a walkie-talkie linked with a control room. Additionally, simple hints and suggestions are given on the countdown screen. These don’t wreck the game or lessen the challenge. In our room, they served as reminders.

I highly recommend Epic Escape Games as a unique, fast-paced, exhilarating family outing. Teamwork is not only encouraged, it is necessary. We would have never escaped if we didn’t work together and delegate as well. I suppose you can teach teamwork by having everyone clean out a garage together, but I promise this is much more fun!

Rooms can accommodate up to eight people. It would be a fun mom’s night out, a couples date night, a work outing, or even a birthday party. They have space for parties, including a kitchen where you can stash food while you play.

To book your room or for more information regarding pricing, hours, FAQs, and location, visit Epic Escape Game. The prices are comparable to a night out at the movies with popcorn and drinks for everyone with rates fluctuating depending on when you visit.

(Epic Escape Game hosted my family and friends to try to beat a room for purposes of review. The opinions are solely mine and my fellow teammates’.)

Elitch Gardens Announces New 7-Story Thrill Ride: The Brain Drain

If I didn’t already lose my marbles last summer when I rode Elitch Gardens’ monster coaster Mind Eraser for the first time, I have another chance. The amusement and water park announced yesterday their new thrill ride for the 2014 season: the Brain Drain.

Does anyone else find it worrisome their ride names are dedicated unto the loss of brain power?

Sure to deliver heart-pounding thrills, this new 7-story ride does wild, thunderous loops that send riders forwards, backwards and head-over-heels in an adrenaline-packed 360° revolution. Riders must be 48-inches tall. Go here to watch a simulation of the ride on YouTube.

Brain Drain at Elitch Gardens

Brain Drain at Elitch Gardens

“As we celebrate our 124th birthday, we are extremely excited to add the first thrill ride in a decade to the theme park,” said Tracy Durham, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park’s director of marketing. Guests can let their hair fly as they shuttle back and forth with suspense before wildly looping seven stories in the air. With back to back seats facing either direction, each ride on Brain Drain is a unique experience with great views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains.”

 If adrenaline- and dopamine-packed rides aren’t your style, Elitch Gardens has plenty reasons to visit, including more days, more hours and more fun. For the first time, they will be offering a family-friendly “Dive-in” movie night on select Friday nights in the wave pool featuring favorites “Frozen,” “Despicable Me 2” or “Finding Nemo.”

Elitch disbanded concerts last year as they worked through capacity problems and have since opened up more space. Their concerts are back and free with daily admission or a Season Pass.  Watch for performances by Disney superstars Zendaya and Bridgit Mendler, plus Christian rock group Newsboys and Hispanic music favorite Conjunto Atardecer.

 The Mind Eraser is the only thing going up this year. Elitch Gardens also announced that season passes have been rolled back $10, paying for itself in less than two visits. The park is open May 3rd through November 2nd with 54 rides, live entertainment, thrilling roller coasters, and an entire water park. Visit for more information and to purchase discount tickets.

Here’s for a loss of brain power this summer. Literally.