October 2015-June 2016
Part 1 - Babysteps!
We are now 3 years old and it’s been an incredible ride! From our small beginnings spawned out of our humble savings, to now being the largest escape room in the UK! It’s been an amazing journey with a lot of difficult steps and incredible moments along its way, so we thought it would be cool to do a bit of a retrospective!
The Panic Room all started as a newborn dream in October 2015, when we returned from our honeymoon to find out that the company we both worked for had been liquidated and bought out by another. The new owner was awful and every day became more and more difficult. On our honeymoon, we had discovered Escape Rooms and fell in love and over the 2 weeks we had ended up playing 20 of them!
Presented with our situation we decided to take the plunge, do something else, do something different. We have both always been creative, whether it be writing, digital design or music. Something in Escape Rooms spoke to us louder than anything else ever could and we decided to make a go for it. What was the worst that could happen?
So after knocking on every estate agent door to try and find a venue, we finally lucked out and got a space at the Gravesend Old Town Hall. By December 2015 we had keys and had to very quickly with what little money we had left between us, create our first escape room experience “The Panic Room”. A single room setup, brimming with puzzles all hand made and exciting!
We were working our regular job still 9-5, then as soon as we were done we would head straight to the town hall and create until midnight or later. Tiring but worth it!
We opened January 8th, 2016 to a fully sold out weekend and it was such an exciting time! Seeing people laughing, smiling and brimming with excitement over something that we had created was so much more rewarding than anything we had ever done before. It became clear very quickly that we were on to a winner, with our approach to customer service and game design we wanted to do more.
We very quickly moved onto our next room design which was based on one of my favorite stories “Dreams In The Witch House” by H.P Lovecraft. To bring this to life was an absolute pleasure and although we were limited by the space we had, it was awesome to make this a reality and it was so nice to see customers loving our new adventure!
It was by February that we had decided we wanted to just go for it and that this is all we ever wanted to do. So we packed in our awful jobs and took that big leap into the unknown and let me tell you, it’s the greatest leap that we ever could have made.
However we had a problem, we were on a rolling monthly contract with the council and they decided that they didn’t want us in there anymore which was…very inconvenient to say the least!
Rather than being there till the end of March, they wanted us out straight away, we protested and managed to extend it to 2 weeks which gave us just enough time to get into the new building that we had been trying to get. We signed on the dotted line and it was ours!
We, however, had bookings still live on the system so, balls to the wall we decided to go for it and move ahead. We finished our very last game on March 13th at 11:30pm of The Witch House. Straight after the game, we packed everything up. Deconstructed the entire game and started moving it across town in the middle of the night. We didn’t stop until 2am doing about 5 trips getting all of our stuff over and in situ. Then bright eyed and bushy tailed we were back again at 8am to get all of the large items of furniture brought over. By midday 11am we had everything brought over, we were exhausted but time waits for no one!
We continued to reset up The Witch House in its new home and finally, we got it all in place ready for games first thing Tuesday morning! We were exhausted but we finally made our mark at our Berkley Crescent location.
Not long after in April we brought back our original room “The Panic Room” and it was even bigger and better than ever. Now a multi-room setup, it excited people from all over Kent who were now really discovering what an Escape Room experience could be like.
With 2 rooms open in our building we were ready to build our next experience, we wanted to do something different and unique so we created a 2 player only escape room experience “The Lab”
The Lab was the first ever 2 player only escape room in the UK. We usually play just the two of us and we wanted to create something that was great for teams of 2 to try an escape room for the first time. Rooms that are listed as 2-8 players can be rather daunting and we wanted something that levelled the playing field for couples. It was our first experimentation with higher technology too, which was both fun and stressful as we were learning as we were making it.
It created some amazing wow moments that bring the room even more to life. One really cool thing about The Lab is that we did a competition on Facebook for our fans to win the chance of being named as one of the scientists in the room. A really great touch to the room that made it all the better for those that won it.
It was at this point with all 3 rooms open that we really started to kick things into high gear! We were ready for it and it was a big leap but you’ll find out more in the next post.
We hope this has been interesting to read, see you for the next one!