COVENTRY TWP. Legend has it that one of the founding settlers of the Portage Lakes was a veteran sailor by the name of Captain Dissinger, who secretly buried his fortune before he died. To this day, the mystery remains unsolved, and Dissinger has left only a cryptic set of clues behind in his cabin on Turkeyfoot Pointe.
Although this story is only folklore, it becomes a very real mission for you and seven friends at "Locked in at the Lakes."
Locked in at the Lakes is part of a growing form of interactive entertainment dubbed "Escape Rooms," which designed to provide an exciting, brain-busting, puzzle-solving experience that requires teamwork, communication and creative thinking. In a race against the clock, teams of two to eight people have 60 minutes to solve Dissinger's mystery.
Owner Kelsey Brooker said the idea for Locked in at the Lakes began five years ago when she and her sister got stuck at a layover to Florida. Her sister had told her to download a game called "Runescape" on her phone, and it was unlike any other puzzle game she played before. She didn’t think anything of it until a few years later when she heard about an Escape Room in downtown Cleveland, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a real thing.
From there, Kelsey said, the idea just spun off. She and her husband, Aaron Brooker, have been working on it for about a year now.
"We liked the kind of fun it created for people," she said. "Once we found out there was a real one in Cleveland, we decided it would be a fun thing to bring to Akron as well. We’ve been in the Lakes our whole lives so we wanted to have it here."
One participant, 32-year-old Jessica Sisson, from Mogadore, said although she and her husband have experienced prior Escape Rooms elsewhere, Locked in at the Lakes was by far their favorite.
"Locked in at the Lakes was much more realistic, thought-provoking, creative, and detailed," Sisson said. "From the moment we walked through the door, it was quite the adventure. My favorite part of the entire experience was feeling like I was a kid again. The ability to explore and do some creative thinking stripped away the years almost immediately."
Kelsey said the game can be enjoyed by people of all ages — there have been people up to age 75 participate. Not only is there a place for people of different ages, but people of different skill strengths as well. She said their goal was to create an experience that would be fun for all ages and personalities.
"We tried to include a variety of puzzles in the room," Kelsey said. "Someone might be more of a visual thinker, someone might be more mechanical, somebody might just like finding things. Everybody has their ‘hero’ moment when they feel like they contributed to the game."
Susan Skeggs, another participant, said her favorite part was seeing how well thought out and put-together the whole experience was. Her group of eight had solved the mystery with the fastest time yet —32 minutes.
"There was enough things to find and figure out that everyone had a chance to participate," Skeggs said. "Then we all had to work as a team to figure out how everything went together."
Skeggs also said she enjoyed Locked in at the Lakes because it was a fun night out that was different than just meeting friends up for dinner and drinks. Kelsey said the experience will spark excellent dinner conversations, and pairs nicely with the restaurants and bars around the area.
"For an hour, we get to know these strangers through this experience we’ve created, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching their enjoyment as they make discoveries throughout the room," Kelsey said. " We share their joy and excitement when they solve puzzles. It’s a lot of fun."
For more information about Locked in at the Lakes, or to book a session, visit lockedinohio.com.