Escape the heat and take a break from your screens with an immersive adventure at Locked Manhattan. At Locked, participants are locked inside a themed escape room and must work together to discover hidden clues, solve puzzles, and unravel mysteries within the hour time limit.
This summer, Locked is unveiling its 10th room. Enter the mysterious realm of "Pet Project," a secluded college campus office where your seemingly ordinary professor tasks your group with caring for their enigmatic pet. After your professor departs, you quickly discover that this endeavor is far from routine. Your group must navigate an intricate web of secrets to secure its escape.
Locked is owned by Kansas-natives Zach Droge and Jessica Tegethoff, who design and build each room from scratch. From the initial concept to beta testing, it takes around six months to bring a room to life. Jessica and Zach’s aim is to ensure that even the most experienced escape room enthusiasts encounter novel puzzles and storylines. Additionally, they seek to curate rooms that caters to a diverse range of people, from initially-skeptical dads to 12-year-olds celebrating birthdays. “We get a lot of first dates,” says Jessica. “We’ve even helped organize a few proposals.”
Drawing from her background as a hospitality manager, Jessica has a relentless passion for customer experience. “Jessica has great insight, because she’s so close to the customer,” says Zach.
With expertise in sculpture, hardware design, and software engineering, Zach offers a unique skill set that enriches the Locked experience for visitors. “One room has 1000 ft of hidden wire, electromagnetic sensors, and a microcontroller. You just see a button, because we hide all the tech.”
Beta testing is a crucial part of the iterative room design process, which involves enlisting a core group of people who provide feedback on a new room prior to its public debut. Their input helps fine-tune the room, making it accessible to experienced players, newbies, and groups of two to eight. Striking the right balance of challenge and enjoyment is key, ensuring that everyone has a chance to shine. “If everyone has a hero moment [in which they solve a clue], that’s a best case scenario,” says Zach. “We want to create that long-lasting memory,” adds Jessica.