IDLEYLD PARK — On the outside, the IdleYld Lodge looked like a rustic, sleepy bed-and-breakfast, the kind of place where guests might wake up to home-baked muffins and a cup of coffee before setting out on a hike or day of fishing on the North Umpqua River.
Inside, gargoyle statutes looked down on four people that were locked in a crazed, time-traveling magician’s study. They went through garments hanging in a wardrobe, opened drawers, trying to find clues, any kind of hint in a race to find the secret that will get them out of the room before they are lost in time forever.
It was all a game that took place Thursday at the IdleYld Lodge, where people pay $25 to try to escape of the lodge’s three rooms, which opened a few months ago.
The Time Traveling Magician Room is one of three that Ron Welch, who manages the lodge, and owner Jessica Mathison, have created.
Participants can also test their problem solving skills and try to escape the lodge’s Zombie Laboratory, and Murder at the Mansion.
“People just enjoy it because they have to figure out the puzzles,” Welch said.
Mathison and Welch hit on the idea of an escape room after previous attempts at operating a bed-and-breakfast, and a restaurant at the lodge that Mathison, a former loan support supervisor, purchased in June 2012.
A friend asked them if they had thought of setting up an escape room at the former bed-and-breakfast. Escape rooms, where people try to find clues and escape a locked room, have been popping up around the country, and in Eugene, Medford and other cities in Oregon.
Welch, a self-described lifelong gamer, said he thought, “Oh my God, that’s brilliant.”
Mathison said she thought the idea was “perfect” for the former bed-and-breakfast, with its rooms that used to house guests.
They set about turning the bed-and-breakfast into a series of escape rooms.
Welch designed the rooms, and they furnished them with inherited items that were used in laboratories or magic shows, handed down by deceased relatives.
Welch said at least a hundred people have gone through the rooms since the first one, the Time Traveling Magicians Room, opened in January.
Participants have an hour to find the clues they need to escape the room.
“They have to get out before the time limit, or zombies are going to take over,” Mathison said, describing the story line for the Zombie Escape Room.
Welch said the success rate is about 50-50 and it is hard to predict who might get out in time and who might not — a group of Girl Scouts succeeded in solving the puzzle in time, while a team of attorneys failed.
Mathison said the room has multigenerational appeal, and is pulling in families, something the lodge’s restaurant could not do when it was in operation.
Mathison said the lodge gives back to the community by giving back a percentage of sales to organizations who host fundraisers at the escape rooms.
Welch said more rooms are being planned including a Kidnap Room, which he describes as more of an “extreme” room in which people are shackled.