Culpeper will welcome its first escape room Friday.
Dan Glanz Jr., a Culpeper resident, decided to open the Puzzle Room Live, LLC after falling in love with escape rooms while on vacation with his wife.
“My wife and I probably did our first escape room about five years ago,” Glanz said. “We were on vacation in Nashville. They had one of the earlier ones in the states. Whenever we travel around, we do different rooms and we really enjoyed it.”
Glanz, an engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne, moved to Culpeper about a year and a half ago and saw a need for more entertainment. Previously living in Orange, he had hoped to open an escape room in Charlottesville but was beaten to the punch. So after visiting and moving to Culpeper, it only seemed fitting to try the venture here. Puzzle Room Live will be located at the old Reformation Lutheran Church building (around back) at 509 S Main St.
“For me it’s an interactive experience that you don’t have another opportunity to do, there’s nothing else like it,” Glanz said. “It’s kind of being like the star of your own movie.”
Glanz called Puzzle Room Live “very immersive,” and said it’s interactive entertainment with your friends. It’s more social than going to sit at a movie theatre, as the exercise requires you to talk and solve problems.
It’s a great family experience as well, and he hopes children as young as 12 will be able to help their parents solve the problems presented.
“I want this to be family friendly, I want people to be able to bring their kids and not have to worry about them being scared,” Glanz said.
Puzzle Room Live features two rooms, “Uncle Bart’s Untimely Demise” and “The Mad Scientist.” In the first, visitors are tasked with finding clues to help solve Uncle Bart’s murder. In the “Mad Scientist,” players are pitted against the formidable mind of Dr. Helmut Conrad, a disgruntled biologist who has created a super virus to prove his scientific genius. Plays have to come up with an antivirus to save the day.
“The overall focus is problem solving,” Glanz said. “The genre can change, but the idea is to fix a bunch of problems to fix an overarching situation.”
The experience costs $20 per person and generally takes about an hour to complete, Glanz said to usually expect about an hour and a half with instructions.
“We want people to have fun, we don’t want people to feel like they are frustrated or they didn’t make any progress,” Glanz said. “If you make it too easy, it’s not fun either.”
Glanz, who comes up with the concepts on his own, said they plan to open another room after the first of the year and then switch out the rooms every six months.
One of the common complaints heard in Culpeper is that there is little for teens to do, and Glanz hopes this helps solve that issue.
“It’s perfect for teenagers for something to do,” Glanz said. “Culpeper has a lot going on for older people, but for younger folks there’s not a lot of other stuff.”
After a soft opening last weekend, Glanz said players were excited to come back and try again.
“Everybody has really had a good time,” Glanz said. “This weekend was a test weekend to try the rooms out and make sure everything was working. Even then, people were having really positive feedback.”
Puzzle Room Live employs six people, including Lindsey Broyles and her daughter Kaylee.
The Broyles family learned about escape rooms while on vacation in North Carolina and had to be part of the newest one in Culpeper.
“We were always trying to find stuff to do on vacation in Nags Head,” Lindsey Broyles said. “We did everything there and then we discovered an escape room and we fell in love. It’s the best family bonding experience ever.”
The Puzzle Room Live will be open Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Reservations can be made at www.puzzleroomlive.com and a ribbon cutting will be held at 5 p.m. Friday.