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Mobile escape room takes to the road

A new Chester ‘escape room’ has been launched - with a difference. It has four wheels, indicators, and a registration plate.

Escape The Van is based in a converted box van, giving players one hour to crack its puzzles and challenges to work out the code to freedom.

The game, titled ‘The Experiment’, takes groups into a ‘Further Analysis Kinaesthetic Experiment’ laboratory for a voluntary medical experiment, but as the door locks and the lab’s acronym becomes clear, teams are put to the test to find a way out.

The van can arrive, set up, and be ready to play in just ten minutes, with groups of between two to five players at a time given the chance to tackle the puzzle.

Founder Greg Mooney, 27, set up the van after experiencing his first escape room challenge.

Escape games, which act as live action puzzles, have proved a hit for team building within work parties and social groups. The escape room market is worth an estimated £35 million in the UK, with more than 1,000 rooms available across 415 venues.

And Escape The Van claims to be the only mobile escape room in the UK offering a full one hour escape experience for individual bookings on players’ doorsteps, as it can operate from any location with legal parking.

A number of teams have already taken on the Escape The Van challenge, with the fastest time currently set at 42 minutes, 28 seconds.

But a team with particularly good communication, problem solving, and time management skills can beat this, says Greg, who lives in Withington.

He said: “We’ve built a room with the intention of providing an outstanding experience. The convenience and novelty factor is one thing, but our aim all along was to raise the bar on escape room user experience. I had the idea to create Escape The Van after doing an escape room myself at a work social – everyone loved the team building aspect, which is vital for working as part of an everyday cohesive team.

“It’s been a major challenge to fit a fully-functioning escape room into a vehicle and a lot of thought, testing and refinement has gone into all aspects of the experience. The feedback from test groups has been very positive. I’m really proud of what has been achieved.

“We have been operating for two months, with groups from businesses, birthday parties, and even escape room enthusiasts trying it out. Fifty per cent of the teams who have taken on the van have escaped, and all of our reviews so far are five-star, as the game is a challenging but fun experience.

“I think the current escape time can and will be beaten, so I throw the challenge out there to anyone who thinks they can escape the van!”

Greg left his career as a civil engineer to launch Escape The Van. The converted Vauxhall Movano took more than a year to fit out and test before hitting the roads. In addition to Chester, Escape The Van travels across the north west to areas including Bury, Warrington and Macclesfield.


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