Maui Escape Rooms in Lahaina is a new form of entertainment which requires players to complete creative challenges while doubling as a team building activity and a fun game for all ages. The concept of this company is all about the magic behind solving a mystery and teaching players that nothing is what it seems. Just within the lobby there are puzzles, padlocks and secret doors–there’s even a special, hidden image within the company’s logo (which I like to call the “Escape Ape”) that’s displayed above the front desk.
Live escape games started in Asia during the early 2000s and then spread across the world. There are now approximately 1,210 escape room companies within the United States. Maui Escape Rooms is one of four in the entire state, with the other three being located on Oahu. This facility was opened in May 2016 by a team of two married couples–Mishkin and Amanda Derakhshan alongside Ravosh and Coby Samari–who believe their company will attract locals and tourists alike.
“We’ve lamented ourselves how there’s really nothing to do on Maui at night, especially indoors if it’s raining or if you’re just sick of the sun… so we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if something like [an escape room] existed on Maui,’” Mishkin said.
When I went, there were two rooms available for people to explore and solve–the Bank Heist for two to eight players and the Prison Break for four to 10 players. Both rooms have only a 25 percent success rate of groups who were able to escape within the one hour time slot that’s allotted. Reservations are typically required, but it never hurts to pop in and see if there are any openings.
Since this activity is being marketed as a team-building exercise, I opted to bring along a few of my coworkers from Roy’s restaurant in Ka‘anapali to join in the experience with me. We had employees who worked in all different aspects of the restaurant, including front- and back-of-house, which allowed for an eclectic mixture of personalities, wits and techniques.
The first room we entered was the Prison Break. Our group was separated into two and placed into adjacent cells where we would have to work together, regardless of the wall hindering our ability to see each other. A television screen fixed above us started flashing a countdown and we frantically raced against the clock to escape in time.
This was actually my favorite of the two rooms because as we uncovered the clues within our own cells, we realized that each team had pieces that the other one needed to use in order to break out. Once both teams released themselves from the cells, we then had to collaborate on figuring out how to escape the room entirely. I thoroughly enjoyed this room because each member of our party contributed to solving the puzzles in some way, and I believe everyone felt equally important throughout the process of escaping.
Amanda was our “woman on the outside” who monitored our progress, gave us hints when we were stuck and made sure we didn’t hurt ourselves by tinkering with something that wasn’t actually part of the game. Although we never called her for help, she did put one small hint up on the screen for us during our first round. In the end, we escaped with 27 minutes left on the clock and we were all quite proud of our mutual accomplishment.
Our next stop was the Bank Heist room, where we all remained in the same room together and had to figure out how to break into the bank manager’s safe. This room was a tad more challenging because it required some worldly knowledge and intermediate math skills, such as basic geometry and algebra–but thankfully, you’re given a calculator! They even personalize one of the clues for your group to truly make you feel immersed in the experience.
The only negative was that this room felt a bit more hectic because everyone was trying to solve a different puzzle at once, leading to at least one person missing out each time someone made a discovery. Even though we had one more person in our group for this second room, we escaped with only 19 minutes to spare.
Figuring out how to escape the cleverly designed rooms allowed me to realize my potential as a leader as well as a team player, my ability to use critical thinking and communication skills to solve problems during intense situations and my newfound obsession with live escape games. It was exhilarating to finally put all the time I’ve spent binge-watching mystery and crime TV shows to use–I felt like I had been transported into one of those fictional worlds where I got to be a hero alongside everyone else in my group. Regaining our freedom with time to spare granted us plenty of bragging rights back at the restaurant and even the employees who couldn’t join in on the fun know just how capable we are of working together towards a common goal.
Overall, the Maui Escape Rooms were incredibly fun and entertaining. I would recommend doing the Prison Break if you have a larger group of five or more, whereas the Bank Heist may be better for a smaller group of four or less. One piece of advice I will share, without giving anything away, is to remember that everything is placed in each room because it serves a purpose, so utilize everything you find.
As much as I would like to explain every last detail of the rooms, the most important aspect of this activity is the element of surprise. “A lot of it is what we call ah-ha moments, where a puzzle all of a sudden makes sense,” Mishkin said. “It’s a direct, problem-solving and sometimes high pressure situation, plus everyone has to work together. In the prison, it’s all about teamwork between the two cells and it almost doesn’t matter how smart you are for that one… if your communication skills are poor, you’re not escaping.”
Although the puzzles were originally created with the mindset of bringing friends, families and coworkers together, the owners are seeing that many children are interested in participating as well. “The age is anywhere from nine to 99 years-old,” Amanda said. “We’ve had tri-generational families come in and play and they say, ‘There’s nothing else you can do where we can all go and everyone can have fun together.’”
If you want to experience either the Prison Break or the Bank Heist rooms, you’ll have to act quickly. In late summer, Maui Escape Rooms is planning to move to Whalers Village, where they’ll open four brand new rooms.
MAUI ESCAPE ROOMS
$35 per person and room
Players under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Open daily from 10:30am to 10:30pm. Parking is available on the rooftop or the street.
1068 Limahana Pl., Suite 2, Lahaina
Photo courtesy Maui Escape Rooms
For more of Maui’s top activities in our annual Summer Guide visit https://mauitime.com/tag/mauitime-summer-guide-2017/