Nov 21, 2017
BATAVIA — The owners behind Batavia’s newest business say their patrons don’t need special skills or equipment, just a sense of adventure and their wits.
Mondell and Pamela Elliott shared their excitement about Escape-Ology, but revealed none of their escape room’s secrets during a tour of the City Centre project Monday.
Escape-Ology is located at 8 City Centre in the former EverPresent Church, which moved to a larger storefront in mall. It has access from both the main corridor and the Maya Yoga entrance, but occupies its own world.
“The biggest thing for us is themeing,” Mondell said. “At a lot of escape rooms, (the challenge) loses the theme and turns into solving combination or word locks. We want to keep it as real as the situation would be.”
Their debut challenge is Pharoah’s Crossing, which puts teams of up to 10 people into a recently relocated archeological find.
Escapers will work by flickering lights to try to uncover the reason behind the monument, which at first glance is lined with hieroglyphs and filled with artifacts, like a towering Anubis.
Something seems amiss — is that a secret passage? Are we being cursed?
“We really want to make you feel you are really back in Egyptian times,” Pamela said. “We’ve really put time and energy into it, not just in the puzzles, but this is really an escape from everyday Batavia. You’re in an Egyptian tomb.”
The business will have a soft launch Friday, with plans to have a grand opening during Christmas in the City. The Elliotts plan to continue to modify their space, eventually adding two additional adult challenges and another suitable for children’s parties.
“We really want to encompass entertainment for all age groups,” Pamela said, noting that their test groups have ranged from children to grand parents. “We’re taught from preschool on, to play memory match games ... we’re raised from childhood on playing games and as we get older, there’s crossword puzzles, I think puzzle-solving is part of the entertainment at all ages.”
The Elliotts did their first escape room five years ago on a trip to Canada, and have hit around a dozen.
“We had a great time with it, and we thought it would be such a (fun) thing,” for a business, Mondell said.
Mondell and Pamela aren’t escape room wizards — they estimate they succeed about a third of the time — but like the idea of running their own.
“We’ve done them with friends and family, as well as mixed groups where you don’t know anyone, and we’ve had enjoyable experiences with both,” Pamela said. “It’s a way to meet people and to go out with close-knit friends and have a good night.”
The Elliotts — Mondell is manufacturing operations manager in Rochester, and Pamela is an RN at the Batavia VA Medical Center — moved to Le Roy from the Pittsburgh area in 2008.
“We decided to do an escape room about 2.5 years ago, but we were split (on Batavia as the location),” Mondell said. “We looked at it, and ended up not doing it then ... and then in June we decided to go ahead, and agreed Batavia would be a good place for it.”
They were also encouraged that an escape room, Into the Enigma, has been successful in Medina.
The Elliotts spent more than a month preparing the initial room, and had to alter a vertical sliding door to meet city ordinances. They got final approval for the new layout on Monday afternoon, but had the room, their website and business cards ready.
At opening, the Phaorah’s Crossing challenge can be booked for 4, 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. on Fridays, and at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1, 2:30, 4, 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Each attempt lasts up to an hour, with teams recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes early for a briefing and coffee.
For more information about Escape-Ology, visit Escape-Ology.com.