Dennis Mickelson and Cole Toftun are providing area residents with a chance to escape, but only a chance.
The owners of the new Eskape Games mobile escape room on Nucleus have taken the fun, frustration, and excitement of other full-size escape rooms and shrunk it down to fit inside a mobile trailer unit, which can be played at it’s current location behind Bonnie’s Reflexology or moved to set up at any location or event.
The 2012 graduates of Columbia Falls High School advise not to let the small size fool you, their escape room is not easy.
Participants are “locked” inside the trailer and have 45 minutes to solve a series of magic-themed riddles and puzzles in an attempt to unlock the door and escape. So far, no one has been able to escape the room without receiving a large amount of help and hints from the game masters.
“You really have to think outside the box, while you are in our box,” Toftum said. “It may not be easy, but it sure is a lot of fun. There are all kinds of surprises. People get to feel smart and stupid at the same time. It’s been really fun seeing the joy in people’s eyes when they come through and figure out parts of the puzzle.”
The duo has only been set up in Columbia Falls for about a month and say they are still in the process of rebranding the room (which Toftum got from his uncle), but they are already planning a number of upgrades and design changes. According to Mickelson, the hope is to decorate the room for Halloween for a new challenge. The group also hopes the make the puzzles modular, so they can be switched out from time to time to make each trip to the room a new challenge.
“It’s a new experience we can bring to the valley. We grew up here and we want to give something fun back to the community,” Mickelson said.
As for general tips for making it out of the escape room, the pair say to leave no stone unturned.
“Everything opens easily and doesn’t have to be forced. If it opens easily, then it is right. If not, try something else. Look at everything and try everything,” Mickelson said. “Everything is connected.”
The escape room is just one of Mickelson’s new business enterprises as he has also set up shop as a reflexologist in the basement of his grandmother’s practice, naming his new adventure Legacy Reflexology. Mickelson, who spent five years in the Navy after graduating from high school, learned reflexology from his grandmother and says he is happy to join the long list of family members who have been reflexologists.
“I feel like I am in the right place and that things have come full circle for me. It’s great to be back home. This is where I belong,” Mickelson said. “It offers me an opportunity to work at a slower pace. The Navy was a very fast and hectic environment and this helps me to calm my mind down and slow things down.”
For more information about the escape room, visit www.eskapegame.com or find them on Facebook. Legacy Reflexology can also be found on Facebook.