Trapped in a room with a zombie: Raleigh Room Escapes offer challenging, fun experience
Posted August 11, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Searching a room for clues, while a zombie tries to eat you might not sound like the most fun way to spend an evening, but it is probably the most fun the Out and About team has had so far this year.
We checked out Raleigh Room Escapes last week, and our adrenaline is still up. Located in a small office building off of Brookside Drive in north Raleigh, this unassuming place will test your mind, nerves, patience and common sense.
The company is the brainchild of owners J. Robert Raines and Rebekah Carmichael, trained actors who worked for years with Room Escape Adventures in Washington, D.C., which offered the popular "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie" experience.
When it came time to start their own company, the two wanted to bring it back to their home state - North Carolina. They also bought the rights to use the "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie" experience for their first room.
Raleigh Room Escapes opened the "Zombie" escape room in June.
What is Trapped in a Room with a Zombie?
You have one hour to solve a series of puzzles in order to get the key to escape the room you are in. Every five minutes a hungry zombie's chain gets looser and it gets closer to you. You have to avoid being "eaten" by the zombie and still solve the clues to get out.
Doing "structured improvisation," Raines said he and Carmichael are able to customize shows to each group that participates. It's all about reading people, something both trained actors know well.
Raines' mad scientist immediately set the stage for the Out and About team when we visited last week. He is hilarious and keeps you on your toes throughout the experience. Carmichael is a pretty scary zombie as well.
While navigating the puzzles, locks and zombie, we didn't realize that Raines was actually taking very detailed notes. Later we would find out why "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie" is known as the top corporate team-builder in America. The entire experience not only requires you to work together as a group, but it helps identify strengths and weaknesses in each person.
"We are analyzing the group from literally the minute you get out of the car," Raines said.
Whether you escape or not (we did but we had to use some clues), the team gets a rundown of what happened in the room. Corporate teams can ask for a full detailed psychological and sociological profile, or you can just opt for a more humorous and entertaining recap like we did.
The experiences are especially useful for companies, Raines said. Sometimes a person who has great ideas that don't get heard during the zombie challenge is the same person that no one is listening to back at the office, he said.
More than just zombie
While Raines and Carmichael have been handling all shows themselves, they will be bringing on some new cast members soon. It's a good idea, since their new experience "The Formula of Escape" will be opening next week. That experience doesn't include a zombie chasing you, but the idea of becoming a zombie is very present. It's also fun to note that the two will be developing Formula's puzzles. The puzzles in "Zombie" are developed by an outside company.
Also on tap, an experience based on the infamous Devil's Tramping Ground outside Bennett, N.C. Raines said it will be based at another Raleigh facility and use darkness and full theatrical sound to explore the psychology of fear and anxiety.
Think you can escape the zombie? It's not so easy.
For many of us, the minute we got into the room it was a free for all. We were all running around, yelling things about what we found. Too bad we weren't always listening to each other! Eventually we settled down and got to work on the puzzles, but the zombie kept getting closer to us and creating problems.
The stress of solving puzzles and dealing with the zombie led some of our team to do odd things.
I was afraid we'd need something on the other side of the room and wouldn't be able to get it because of the zombie, so I always seemed to be carrying something. For almost the entire time. I had the flashlight in my hand and (unbeknownst to myself) I tended to spin around in a circle to survey the room a lot - earning me the title of the group's "Beacon."
Another member of our team, we'll call her Maggie, became attached to a small fishing pole we found and later needed. Maggie carried that thing around and when the zombie got near, pointed it at the zombie like a fencing sword. In fact, when we did need the pole it was a good 30 seconds of us yelling around to see who had it. Maggie had no clue it was even in her hand.
Another group member was hooked on the briefcase we found and used it to protect himself from the zombie's reach.
It's also funny what you remember from the experience. I recall one group member beating on the ground to distract the zombie. At one point he heard him say, "My hands hurt so bad but I can't stop!"
Our tips for survival:
- Don't panic!!
- Talk to your teammates. Even if you don't know them, you need to communicate to survive.
- Know where the zombie is, because when you aren't looking it will get you!
- Protect the smartest person in the room. If someone emerges as a super puzzle solver, protect him or her from the zombie at all costs.
- Keep an eye on the clock.
- Have fun and don't forget to laugh.
- Go back in six months or so when the puzzles get changed up!
Raleigh Room Escapes is located at 1520 Brookside Drive in Raleigh. You can book an experience through its website. "The Formula of Escape" runs $25 a person and "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie" is $30 per person. All reservations must be made online.
The experience isn't really kid-friendly, but Raleigh Room Escapes does offer something for families interested in the zombie experience for their child's birthday party. Zombified!: Zombies in Training is a zombie-themed party that includes a zombie training workshop, full makeup applications, zombie plates, cups and decorations.