The North East is blessed with many great escape rooms. One of our favourites is Pirate Escape in Whitley Bay. They are family-run and have a variety of fun and engaging escape rooms themed around - can you guess? - Pirates! We got in touch with Angela, to ask her a little more about the games and business that we love.
How have you guys been doing through lockdown?
We've been fine thank you! Most of the family have been working, some from home and others working in the NHS. One of my sons was volunteering while furloughed to help build the nightingale hospital in Sunderland. I have been busy keeping our customers informed and sending our vouchers for groups that had already booked with us while in locked down. We also designed and printed some little games for people to play at home and order online. We can't wait to welcome all our players back, we have all missed it so much!
How did you get started with escape rooms?
We had never heard of escape rooms until 2015 when we had family staying with us from Australia. Our sons looked up things to do and saw an escape room in Newcastle. They went with our visitors and were full of it when they got home! They talked about it for days saying they really enjoyed it BUT kept talking about how they could make it better i.e. decorate the room, add music, have a storyline etc. I told them to come back with a business plan, never thinking they would, but how wrong I was! Now myself, my husband, my eldest son and his wife, middle son and fiancé, and my youngest son all have equal shares in the business.
Why did you choose to theme your games around pirates?
This was easy! We didn't want to set up in Newcastle, by this time a few games were opening up, and, as we lived around Whitley bay and we felt it was trying to improve what was on offer to visitors. We did some research and decided it could offer us everything we needed. As for the pirates, having three sons that grew up loving pirates and being next to the sea, it was such an easy decision for us! We were all keen and excited to run with it. And after five years we all still love it!
What part of Pirate Escape are you most proud of?
The fact that, as a family, we have all found roles that suit our skills. It has made us into a very successful visitors attraction, we have even received awards such as North Tyneside small business "heart of the community" award.
Do you have a favourite moment from watching teams in your games?
Oh, that is a hard question. I've got a few, but if I need to pick one, it's the one when a guy rang and asked if he could propose to his girlfriend at the end of the game and if their families to greet them after. I arranged with him to put the ring in the final chest and, we placed champagne on ice for him and their families. He was so nervous when they came in to play. As they got near to the final puzzle, I must say, I was feeling the nerves too! But it all went well. They loved it and so did we. I've since seen them and they are now happily married.
We did, however, have a couple come to play a game on a Friday night and they were on a first date. He thought it was a great surprise he had organised for her, but I don't think she was impressed! She was all dressed for a night out and crawling on the floor into a secret space was not ideal. When they got out she refused to have her photo taken and couldn't wait to leave. He loved it and clearly didn't see why she wasn't happy. Somehow, I don't think he'll get a second date.
What are your future plans for Pirate Escape?
Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but we are always looking to expand, change or add new dimensions to our games. For example, the new game we are working on is going to be OUT OF THIS WORLD!!
How good are you at escape rooms? How many have you escaped?
Well, not too sure how to answer this one. I think if I say I'm always the one with the pen and paper, you'll know what I mean. In my defence, I go with a very competitive team and if we don't get the fastest time (which they mostly do) they are not happy. Most of the time, I find myself looking at how the game is built, and what props they've used. I did go to an escape room on holiday with friends that had never been to one before and we got out in the fastest time! I was so excited to tell all the family. Between us, there isn't a game we haven't exited in time. I tried to work out how many games we've played, some together and others separately, and I would guess it's been nearly a hundred, if not a little more.
What are some of your favourite escape games that you’ve played?
As a family, some of us have played way more than others! One of my sons is a keen traveller and has played all over the world - one of his favourites is the chamber in Prague.
My first ever escape room is still my favourite, as I had no idea what I was going to. I loved it! That game was one of EXIT's first escape rooms, Save the City.
If someone could only play one of the games at Pirate Escape, which one should they play?
Everyone needs to play the Forbidden Jungle. It is so much fun and looks amazing! However, our new game will be the game to play it's on another level.
Like us, Pirate Escape are back open after lockdown. If you fancy a trip to the coast and their fantastic escape rooms you can book in here.