If you like solving puzzles and crimes, there’s a new escape room on Winslow Way for amateur sleuths to test their skills at solving the “crime of the century” that took place on Bainbridge Island in 1914.
My family likes these experiences. I’m not particularly good at it, but it was fun to rush around looking for clues, solving puzzles and collecting evidence trying to solve the crime before our time ran out.
The new Bainbridge Escape room brings history alive in a former barber shop where players step back in time to help the world-famous William J. Burns National Detective Agency find the last man involved in the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times press building that killed 21 civilians and injured more than 100.
Evidence points to a mysterious barber who has been hiding out on Bainbridge Island for four years under an assumed name. But, time is short and detectives only have 60 minutes to find the clues in order to capture the fugitive and bring him to justice.
When business owners Nathan and Erika Thayer started planning their escape room, they wanted it to be historically themed so that it would appeal to all ages and not be scary.
“It’s more mystery and intrigue than anything else,” said Nathan Thayer, who explained that the room is not locked and players can leave at any time if they do get scared.
The couple opened the escape room to offer an experience that wasn’t based on food or wine. “One of the things we have constantly heard ever since we moved here was there’s not a ton to do in the downtown area,” Thayer said.
The storyline brought together several things—a long lost bit of history, the couple had a vacant storefront that used to be a barbershop, the Thayer family has a connection with the famous detective, and the Thayer family loves solving escape rooms.
“It was kismet,” Thayer said.
The room was designed by Philip Justman who developed the story and puzzles, and a specialist selected the props.
Bainbridge Escape has been open for a month and about 80% of visitors are locals. It’s been a hit with teachers. “They like it because it’s an interactive, immersive, kind of an experience. Teenagers can come, and it’s not scary. They’re not on their electronic devices, and they have to actually use their brains to solve puzzles. I think it appeals to a lot of different people,” Thayer said.
My family thought the escape room was well-designed, the artifacts were of high quality and the story was entertaining. My husband said it wasn’t too difficult compared to other rooms he’s escaped from, even though I had to ask for help a couple of times. For me, I enjoyed learning about a forgotten bit of island history and making some fun memories with my family.