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Plan your own adventure: DL Escape Room opens in Washington Square Mall

Two signs read, "Victory" and "Defeat" outside of the Escape Room. Teams are encouraged to pose with the corresponding sign following their experience. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)1 / 3
The door to the Escape Room sits ajar. Owner Ashley Boswell described the experience as being "kind of like a live action video game.” (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)2 / 3
A group of die and brain games sit on a table outside the Escape Room. All puzzles in the room can be solved with teamwork and basic logic, according to the website. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)3 / 3

Picture this: National Lampoon is filming their newest movie, "Minnesota Vacation," in Detroit Lakes. You and your friends decide to wait until everyone leaves for the day, then sneak onto the set to take pictures. What you didn't count on was the level of security put in place by the production company, and the security for the lead actor, Chevy Chase. Once you're inside, the alarms sound, all exits seal shut and you are finding yourself waiting for police to arrive to detain you. There's some jail time in your future... unless you can find a way out before the cops get there!

This is the scenario that introduces you to the web page of the Detroit Lakes Escape Room (, which just opened on Memorial Day Weekend inside the Washington Square Mall at 808 Washington Ave. (next door to Glik's and across the hall from Maurice's).

"It's the newest entertainment craze," says owner Ashley Boswell, who also owns the Escape Room in Grand Forks. "It's kind of like a live action video game."

In fact, the original "escape room" creator based the premise on a video game, Boswell added. Since then, the live action game has taken on a variety of different incarnations. Some escape rooms actually use several different scenarios to tempt adventurers, she said: The Grand Forks Escape Room that she operates, for instance, has three different themes.

"For now, we just have the one theme here," Boswell said, but noted that more will most likely be added as interest grows.

Currently, the Detroit Lakes Escape Room is booking clients for sessions starting at 2:30 p.m. each day, and continuing late into the evening — but not too late.

"When the theater's last show lets out, we're done," Boswell said, adding that this was part of the agreement they reached with mall management when they moved in.

Though the Escape Room is open for appointments seven days a week, when there's no sessions scheduled, it's closed.

"We're only staffed when we're booked, so you have to book in advance," said Boswell, adding that this can be done via the web page listed above or by calling 701-388-1905.

Each session is intended to last approximately 90 minutes, which includes a brief orientation in the beginning and a wrap-up session at the end, where the group can ask questions, and if they were not successful, get an overview of how to figure out the remaining clues.

"At the very end, we take a team photo, which is posted on our Facebook page," said Boswell.

Though the sessions are meant to be exciting, and adrenaline-inducing, actual terror is not supposed to be part of the experience: If a person becomes too scared, or there is a medical emergency, a failsafe is built in to allow clients to exit the room at any time.

"And if there's a power outage, the locks automatically open," Boswell said, noting that there is no way for anyone to truly become trapped in the room.

Physical prowess is not required to participate in an escape room session: In fact, it says right on the website's FAQ (frequently asked questions) that "all our puzzles require mental strength rather than physical strength or nimbleness." Being a math whiz or trivia buff may expedite the solving of some puzzles, but "all escape room puzzles can be solved with basic logic and teamwork using clues within the room," the FAQ states.

Each group or individual can also decide for themselves how difficult they want their experience to be, and hints can be given if the group/individual becomes stuck on a particular question (though hints can also be refused). Group experiences can also be tailored to fit a special occasion (birthday, graduation, etc.).

For more information, please visit the website, or direct specific questions to

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454