In April of 2013 Eric Spring in 't Veld and Dori Németh opened the first escape room in the Netherlands. Barely anyone knew what an escape room was in those days. When they tried to explain the concept to others, they would get reactions like: 'Lock yourself up in a room? You're not seriously going to do that for fun right?' or 'I do know what a darkroom is, but an escape room...?' This didn't stop Dori and Eric though. Dori originally comes from Budapest, the cradle of escape rooms in Europe. One of her friends opened Paniq Szoba there in 2012. One of the first escape rooms in Europe. After playing his room she was sold and wanted to bring the concept to the Netherlands. In the building of Eric's music school there was a lot of room left, the perfect opportunity to start building their very own escape room. Aside from that Eric's creative vision on light, sound and special effects would come in handy, just like his network in theatre/movies and media. Together they played a couple of rooms in Budapest to get an insight on what they thought would be important ingredients for a good escapegame. Afterwards they let their own creativity go wild on these ingredients. And with success! According to many escaperoom Bunschoten is one of the best escape rooms in the Netherlands. And apparently they weren't only the first ones in the Netherlands, but even in the whole Benelux (Belgium / Netherlands / Luxembourg). More than enough reasons to ask this duo some questions, because we're pretty curious about their story!
Why is your escape room so successfull you think?
"We try to raise the bar with our escape rooms, to go that extra mile. That includes light, sound, special effects, movie, decorations, story, etc. It shouldn't be just a game with some puzzles and locks. It should be a sensational experience, that's what we're aiming for! But we also value the overall experience of our visitors. This starts the minute they come in and shouldn't end when they close the door behind them. Aside from that we feel it's important that everyone feels at home with us and they go through an as-complete-as-possible escape room experience."
We apparently weren't only the first escape room in the Netherlands, but also in the BeNeLux!
That experience is really strong with you indeed. You were there early, but how do you remain successfull as an escape room?
"We try, as a team, to continiously improve the quality of our rooms and we find it important to keep innovating and renewing."
Recently you decided to re-new the Laboratoriumkamer with a 2.0-version. When do you decide something like this and how does this go?
"As soon as a room starts to bore us, we change it. This keeps it fresh for us too! An additional benefit is the fact that visitors who played the room years ago and want to experience it again, can actually do this without knowing everything already."
Any plans for a third room yet?
"We're already building and developing a third room for a year. We hope to present this to the public somewhere in 2017!"
We can't wait! What's the best experience you've had with the escape room since you opened up in 2013?
"The best experience is always the moment a new room opens and the first teams go in. Months of blood, sweat and tears prelude a moment like that and when everything works out like you hoped and the escapers are loving it, it all has been worth it!"
We see there's still a lot of room for improvement in the escape room concept. What the next step is going to be we're going to show with our Escape Room 3.0.
"A different moment that I want to mention is when Victor Milton van Doorn van Sherlocked named our escape room in De Wereld Draait Door (a big dailly Dutch TV show). We were bombarded with calls and our inbox filled up with requests and positive reactions! That moment was the big breakthrough for escape rooms in the Netherlands in general anyway. From that moment on everyone knew about escape rooms."
I can imagine that being a great moment. Now we're talking about the history of escape rooms in the Netherlands: what kinda developments did you see and what do you expect to see in the future?
"We see reallife gaming being used in all kinds of themes. That's a fantastic and very interesting development! We see there's still a lot of room for improvement in the escape room concept. What the next step is going to be we're going to show with our Escape Room 3.0. We can't wait to share this with our visitors!"
Now we REALLY can't wait. Can't you give us some hints? Or does it have to remain secret?
"OK! A very small hint then! The theme is totally different from the Laboratoriumkamer or De Meisjeskamer. Those two are more or less in the same neighbourhood and their stories add up. Escape Room 3.0 is going to be totally indepent, theme, story and gamewise. For us that was a big challenge. We did build it "from scratch" but of course we took our knowledge from the first 2 rooms and the observation of thousands of visitors. But we're also throwing out a bunch of "escape room rules". That's exciting and it inspires us a lot. It brings us and our team to places (creatively) we didn't dare to dream of!"
A large amount of escape room enthusiasts is getting more demanding... It's a challenge for us to make sure we meet those demands. During, but especially after the hype!
Sounds great! Do you like to play escape rooms yourself too? If so, which ones do you recommend? And why?
"Of course we love to play escape room ourselves! We really liked Escape Challenge in Delft and Sherlocked in Amsterdam a lot!"
Since you already mentioned Budapest, for every one traveling there to do some escaping: what are your recommendations?
"Para Park, the founders of reallife room escape games in Europe! Also check out Paniq Szoba and Trap!"
Escape Adventure Best had the following question: “How long do you think this hype will last?”
"A hype is something that gets attention from a large amount of people. How long something like that will last depends on a couple of things. These are pretty hard to check so I have no idea how long it will last. I would like to add though that this hype isn't really interesting to us. We see a lot of escape rooms (of lesser quality) closing their doors in Budapest because it isn't a hype there anymore. Only the good escape rooms will remain."
A large amount of escape room enthusiasts (and this group is still growing) is getting more demanding. They want to keep being surprised and they want a good, original game. It's our challenge to meet these demands. During, but especially after the hype!"