When you played a lot of escape rooms, you probably thought about building one yourself. For many it remains an idea, but not for these six from Harderwijk. After they got hooked on playing escape rooms themselves, they opened up their own room in Zeewolde on the 2nd of April 2016: The Illusionist. Not too long ago we played this room ourselves and were very impressed with a couple of the puzzles and the tech used in this room! Now they're celebrating their one year existence we thought it was a nice moment to get to know the owners a bit better.
How it started
An advertisement in the papers for an escape room got their attention: they had no idea what to expect, but they got curious. "For a part of our group it was the beginning of an addiction. A couple of us also went to Budapest to play there and some played more than 50 rooms already."
In the beginning we made jokes about starting an escape room, but at some point the jokes got more serious: "From that moment things went fast and serious plans were made for a theme with fitting puzzles. We also started looking at locations. It was difficult to find a location with the correct destination plan. Eventually we found Stal Hulkestein (Stable Hulkenstein) at the edge of Zeewolde and Nijkerk: the coffee- and saddleroom they weren't using anymore. We could transform it into an escape room."
We came up with the story pretty fast, but we took a lot longer to find the right name for Wilhelm.
The story of Wilhelm Hendrickx
After many ideas we finally settled on a theme with an illusionist as the main character: Wilhelm Hendrickx. "We picked the theme because it's a theme that appeals to a lot of people and we came up with a lot of puzzles right away."
The story's about an excentric illusionist who lived somewhere remotely in Zeewolde. 30 years ago he suddenly dissapeared and they players need to find out what happened. "We came up with the story very fast, but we took a lot longer to find the right name for Wilhelm. What's a good name? Eventually we picked a fairly standard Dutch name, but aged it a bit. Wilhelm instead of Willem and Hendrickx instead of Hendriks. It fits a bit better with an illusionist that dissapeared 30 years ago."
They tried to add a lot of diverse puzzles to this theme, so its fun to play for everyone. "We think we have fun and good puzzles, resulting in a challening room."
One year later
In April they were open for a year. We asked them for their best memories: "Of course the full realization of your own ideas (including coping with setbacks) is a beautiful memory, but also the first paying customers were a highlight. You can think it up as beautiful as you want, but if nobody comes, it will not make you happy. It's also fun that no group is the same: we see people do the craziest things in the rooms. When you think you've seen it all, something unexpected happens. Every group is another experience and this keeps it really fun to see them play."
But the most rewarding is when your hard work gets appreciated: "The most beautiful memories are the ones of enthusiastic people coming out of the rooms. You never know if your ideas work for the players but luckily this always seem to work and the responses and reviews are really positive."
We've seen people do the craziest things in our rooms. The moment you think you've seen it all, something unexpected happens.
Running an escape room with six persons seems like quite the task to us. Apparently it's difficult now and them for them too, because there are so many opinions you need to take into consideration. In the beginning they didn't really knew what to do, because nobody had any experience with building an escape room. "When we finally seriously got started, we quickly realized it was best to give everyone their own responsibilities and work in groups. This worked a lot better and it was also easier to make decisions."
Aside from that they also see the positive side of being with six: "Not only do we simply have more people to work on things, this also means more (creative) ideas."
Favorite rooms in the Netherlands
Being the enthusiasts we are, we always love to hear the favorite rooms of others. The people of Escaperoom Zeewolde really enjoyed The Dentist in Delft: "Especially the atmosphere they've created, maybe it also helps a couple of us are very afraid of the dentist." They also loved The Vault in Amsterdam: “Something different, because you need to break in instead of break out." They also mention The Great Escape in Zwolle: "We've been there in an early stage, when they had just finished their second room. A couple of us played their new room and thought it was great."
With a beautiful new website Escaperoom Zeewolde is ready for a new year. They hope it not only serves customers faster and better, but also makes them become a bit more well-known in the Netherlands. "We're getting good reviews and everyone seems to like it, so why shouldn't everyone know there's a really nice escape room in Zeewolde?" We like to keep making people happy with our escape room. "We're really looking forward to this year, so come visit us!"
Also looking forward to play The Illusionist? Go to the de new website of Escaperoom Zeewolde to book your timeslot!