By Stephen Edmonds

There are times in which we as people need something entertaining to do and not everyone can be content with a couple good shows on tv and a night out at dinner; sometimes you have to do something truly interesting, something that really gives your brain a workout while still allowing you to enjoy the company and antics of whoever you happen to be with.  The Escape Room Florence fits this bill to a “T” and as an added bonus, it’s centrally located in our scenic downtown Florence!  Beyond that, it’s affordable, fun, not very physically demanding, and the number of people you need for a game is highly flexible.

Escape Rooms are businesses that allow patrons to compete with the clock in solving puzzles in a specific room/set of rooms with the end goal of, you guessed it, escaping that room.  Despite how the name of the business sounds, patrons aren’t actually locked in a room; they are free to leave out of the door they first enter through.  The game ends when your team works their way through the room(s) and exits out of another door.  To go with each of these puzzle rooms, the players are presented with an imaginary scenario that covers why the patrons are trapped in the first place.  Every escape room has a multitude of scenarios to choose from and The Escape Room Florence is no different in that aspect.  There were several different rooms to choose from, but the one we settled on for our game was known as Espionage.

After making our decision, we were whisked away to a small preparation room where the backstory was read to us.  In line with the title, the story was that we were all British spies captured by Russia and sent to prison. We had just one hour to escape before the officers returned to execute us.  Being read a story usually doesn’t create much of an atmosphere by itself, but when paired with the handcuffs that were slapped on our wrists (although these are optional) and the jail cell we were escorted to with the Russian national anthem playing in the background, the sensation of being in a pressured situation started to feel more real.  

I don’t know what kind of friends everyone has, but this was the perfect activity for me and mine.  One of my friends kept a decent British accent up all the way until the end where we started to rush against the clock more.  All of us were rushing around checking every piece of furniture, finding secret doorways, hidden keys, puzzles, and codes to various combination padlocks painted on the wall.  

I entered the escape room thinking that an hour was a long time and I left realizing just how short of a time it was.  We had made it through just 2 out of the 3 total rooms in Espionage when we realized we only had 15 minutes left!  Thankfully, all rooms are supervised via camera by Escape Room Florence personnel and when players reach an impasse, they are allowed to call out to said supervisor and ask for a clue.  When asked, the supervisors speak into a microphone that the players in the room can hear and give them hints in a very covert way such as saying, “Feeling tired? Why not take a seat?” in an attempt to lead a player to a clue. My crack team of agents got through almost the entire room but at the end those clues really helped us out of a bind and we didn’t even need to use all 3 of the hints you’re allowed to receive, so I think we did pretty good.

After about 50 minutes of frantic key insertion and sloppy British accents, my team finally got the last door open and reemerged in the lobby where our time was recorded and our pictures were taken to commemorate the occasion.  The slight adrenaline rush granted by racing the clock slowly wound down as we discussed our experience and, as expected, every member of our team expressed a desire to come back. From start to finish, Escape Room Florence delivered a ton of good clean fun and even as I’m still just as excited to return for my next escape.  

The owner and proprietor Bobby Lindholm informed us that he’s hard at work on a brand-new room called Biohazard that we can all expect to be open in the near future.  In the meantime, call and reserve an hour slot this weekend and enjoy Espionage or go for one of the other open rooms such as the recording studio escape!  After participating, I seriously couldn’t believe I had never tried an escape room before and I’m especially glad I got to experience my first escape in a facility as well made and operated as Escape Room Florence.  Next time you hear someone say, “there’s nothing interesting to do in Florence” let them know about this jewel in the crown of modern entertainment.  

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