We've been at this a long time now and we think it's safe to say that we're committed. We're committed to creating great experiences for our customers. We're committed to staying on top of trends and new technologies in the industry. We're also committed to our new location at 1311 Tecumseh Rd. East. With that last one comes a whole pile of extra commitments that we could have never anticipated. It's like we bought a dog and were super pumped to raise it and show it off once it was grown and trained but then we found out that the dog purchase came with a cat. And a hamster. And three iguanas. And a horse. And a goat with insomnia... who needs a special staircase built just as a precaution. So the dog is getting a lot less attention than it deserves and so is everything else.
Perhaps some clarification is in order because that analogy is actually incredibly fitting to what we're going through and I think we're prepared to share the details a bit more than we have in the past when we were bright-eyed and optimistic little cupcakes.
So about a year ago, we met the guys over at The CG Realm as we were on the hunt for our new location. They were awesome. All of us at Hidden Trail have a huge affinity for board games and all things nerd culture so when they asked us if we would be interested in using their new building's massive basement for an escape room, we got the chills. The nerd chills.
If you had the opportunity to have done our Asylum room prior to it's abrupt demise, then you may know that we dig basements as well. I mean we don't DIG them, we just really like them. They have a certain atmosphere that you can't exactly create with facades and set design. There's just something about being underground that makes you a bit uneasy the way not much else can. Other than maybe a portapotty at ribfest but I don't think we could fit puzzles there. It felt like a match made in heaven.
Without going through the boring details, it's important to know that in order to build anything, you typically need a permit from the city that you live in to make sure everything will be safe. We totally get it. Safety has always been our primary concern and we would never want to put our customers or our game masters in harm's way. HOWEVER, there are a lot of steps that must be taken (long pun incoming) in order to make sure that a basement like ours can get approved as being safe. As it stands, we are about 10 months, 100+ emails, many thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours and at least 50 pots of coffee in to this thing... and we're still not ready to start building.
Now, from what we've learned (and paid to learn), we are going to need to change the basement in some pretty severe ways. What we expected to have to change was maybe some of the lighting, smoke alarms, widening of some of the walkways, and a guaranteed quick exit to the staircase which will lead directly to an exit door (a real one, not an escape room one). What we ended up with was a bit odd. So on top of those things, we also need 3 more bathrooms to be built, an existing doorway to be filled with cement blocks, lots and lots of fire proof drywall, repairs to the ceiling and most importantly, a second staircase (pun complete) which will blow straight through the CG Realm's store. Luckily, the guys at CG are willing to work with us because they're amazing but it doesn't help that it took this long and about $10,000 just to figure out that these are the things we need to do. Our goal was to provide an awesome experience for people, not to have our souls crushed over the course of a year.
Before we finish this whole big blog off, there is a light at the end of the tunnel that we want to share. A big, 10,000 watt obnoxious, blinding light. Because it took us so long to get things to the point we're at, we have drastically revamped our plans. Instead of doing one large escape room, we are going to open 3 (they will still be huge). We also have had a lot of time to think about our theme work, story lines, and puzzles. We also have taken time to go to haunted house and escape room conferences that opened our eyes to amazing set design techniques and technologies that we never knew existed. We plan on using everything we've taken so much time to learn about during this build hiatus to bring world class entertainment to this location for our fellow Windsorites.
Oh, and if you've made it this far: Our first room in the new spot will be a limited time (3-4 months) reopening of our original asylum with a few upgrades. So if you weren't able to make it in to the first one, it's coming back... then will come asylum part 2.