“When we have an idea of pain and danger, without being actually in such circumstances, that is sublime.” – Edmund Burke, 1757
Escape rooms are the ideal mix of team building and thrills. The Fort Worth Business Press’ team visited the Fort Worth Panic Room to test its skills in the Cabin Fever room. The team was locked in a cabin during a blizzard with the task of solving puzzles to unlock clues and keys in the hope of escaping the frozen cabin.
Escape rooms typically give teams of six to eight people 60 minutes to escape the room. However, some rooms allow as few as two and as many as 12 escape artists. A typical escape room experience is around $30 per player.
When the timer started the team got to work quickly, grabbing objects in the room, examining bookshelves and searching for clues.
ESCAPING THE CABIN
The team included Krish Patel, event and marketing coordinator; Lauren Vay, vice president of marketing; Tyler Graham, business manager; and staff writers Linda Kessler and Nealie Sanchez
Seconds started ticking away as the team found clues such as numbers, coded objects and vague instructions. Each item served as a piece to advancing in the room, but needed to be deciphered first.
Linda and Nealie worked together to solve a word puzzle, gaining more clues, while Krish and Tyler surveyed the room and found two locked boxes and numbered knickknacks. Lauren used a combination to unlock a wall-mounted compartment to reveal a key.
“I was surprised after I unlocked the first box because I had tried multiple combinations for 10-plus minutes,” Lauren said.
Krishna found a magnetic board game piece that served as a key to unlock another drawer full of clues. Working together, Tyler and Lauren were able to unlock one of the locked boxes while Linda, Nealie and Krishna worked to unlock the other.
“I felt pumped when I unlocked the drawer and found a passport and some 3D glasses,” Krishna said. “With the glasses we realized there was a maze game to play on the TV screen. It was kind of like Pacman but scary because we were trapped in a room.”
Eventually each puzzle was solved and only one lock stood between the team and freedom.
With eight minutes left the team members worked together and found their cabin number using a map. Linda typed the number in the keypad and the final door unlocked, swinging open into the lobby of the Fort Worth Panic Room.
The Fort Worth Business Press team set a record by using the fewest hints of all time for the cabin room, according to Fort Worth Panic Room staff.
“I feel like this has brought us together as a team and we discovered everyone’s strengths and weaknesses,” Tyler said. “My favorite part was getting to know my teammates better.”
WHY SEEK FEAR
Sociologist Margee Kerr, also known as a fearologist, spoke at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s Tuesday evening lecture series on Sept. 26. Kerr is considered a fear junkie for her research on fear and how and why people engage with scary material.
Kerr explained that though people may be consumed with fear due to the many industries that use it as motivation — journalism, politics, health care and more — many people still feel the need to seek out thrilling and scary material. They seek that feeling through extreme sports, TV and movies and video games.
Humans do this, Kerr explained, because they are attracted to things that are novel, dangerous and/or scary. That makes sense from evolutionary perspective, she said.
The reality people experience every day is constructed through the brain pulling on experiences and things they know. When they see something they consider dangerous and scary they experience both attraction and repulsion. It’s a push and pull, Kerr said. It invites them in, but with caution, and it all goes back to a desire to understand.
“By engaging in things that are dark, you are reminded of things that are light,” Kerr said.
There are physical, psychological and social benefits to engaging in fear, she explained.
“But fear is only fun when it is voluntary and it is ‘safe,’” she said. The action being voluntary, control being maintained and overall safety being understood are foundational conditions to “fun-scary” experiences.
Physical benefits, such as a natural high, can be experienced when one interacts with fear. This is because the body releases endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin, making people feel strong, fast, focused and euphoric.
“In these moments we are fully grounded in our body; we are not thinking,” Kerr said, explaining that these types of experiences press reset in the body, allowing people to re-prioritize where their focus is. “It’s not on our thoughts, it’s on our bodies.”
Psychologically, fun-scary experiences can make participants feel confident, successful, competent and resilient. And socially, these experiences create shareable moments, foster social bonding and solidarity, and initiate a transfer of knowledge and social control. This results in part, Kerr said, because when people are scared they form more layered and deep memories.
HAUNTS, ESCAPE ROOMS & TOURS
Fort Worth and Tarrant County are home to many places to “get your spook on.” This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here some of the haunted houses, escape rooms and ghost tours the area has to offer.
— Hangman’s House of Horrors
4400 Blue Mound Road, Fort Worth
— Cutting Edge Haunted House
1701 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
— Moxley Manor
510 Harwood Road, Bedford
— Strangling Brothers Texas Haunted Circus
2602 Mayfield Road, Grand Prairie
— Fort Worth Panic Room
2808 Hemphill St., Fort Worth
— Fort Worth Escape
1227 W. Magnolia Ave, Suite 125, Fort Worth
— The Secret Chambers
2350 Mall Circle, Fort Worth
6750 Locke Ave., Suite 102, Fort Worth
— Red Door Escape Room (Southlake)
280 Commerce St., Suite 285, Southlake
— Red Door Escape Room (Plano)
8103 Rasor Blvd., Suite 100, Plano
— The Perfect Escape
2501 Avenue J, Suite 104, Arlington
— Escape Pro
1825 Airport Freeway, Bedford
— Fort Worth Stockyards Ghost Tour
112 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
— Fort Worth’s Ghost Bus Tour
1309 Calhoun St., Fort Worth
— Grapevine Springs Winery Ghost Tour
409 S. Main St., Grapevine