Local News: New escape room opens in McCook (11/17/22)

Josiah and Tori Hegwood, shown with their son Theo, 1 1/2, have opened two escape rooms and an immersive virtual reality space in downtown McCook. Located between what will be an ax bar and “mint‚” clothes, “Pandora’s Riddle” at 219 Norris Avenue is open from Thursday to Sunday every week.

Lorri Sughroue/McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. – If you are interested in shapes, looking to survive or explore a virtual reality, Pandora’s puzzle will keep you more than occupied.

Located upstairs at 219 Norris Avenue, Pandora’s Riddle offers two themed escape rooms, “Magic Public School” and “Get Asleep.” If that’s not enough to entertain, there are also two immersive virtual stations where participants wear special shoes with sensors, head position and hand control as they “walk” through and interact with the simulated environment.

The response has been great since opening a few weeks ago, said Josiah Hegwood, who is behind the effort with his wife, Tori. “We wanted a way to invest in the community and bring some entertainment options for people here,” Josiah said.

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Both graduated from McCook High School, Josiah in 2017 and Tori, 2016. In the feedback he received from the community, Josiah said the three things he heard people wanted included different types of restaurants, great power to host events and entertainment choices. .

He and Tori chose the party option and six months later, they moved upstairs to the 219th bedroom of Norris. The building was built in 1919, so re-configuring the two-bedroom apartment was sometimes challenging, Hegwood said, to remove the cast iron radiators.

Re-polishing what was already here was preferable to new buildings, he said, and the place in town was perfect. With an ax bar soon to open up the stairs and three stalls on Norris Avenue, Hegwood said he hopes to revive this city, to take people “on the rocks” and keep them. “You can go out to eat and come up here and make an escape,” he said.

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Like other escape rooms, participants in Pandora’s puzzle are asked to observe details, explore hidden spaces and find clues to “escape” the room. “The Public School of Magic” is loosely based on Harry Potter, where participants “collect relics and enchantments” of the magical school and “locked in a dream” has a more spooky theme.

Both rooms occupy about an hour’s space and the topics will change every three months. Players will have walkthrough stories, if they get stuck in fixing something, they will be given a few detours.

Hegwood said that based on his opinion so far, a “Leader Board” is in the works, where the teams with the fastest time are listed and the boxers for the newly added participants, so clues can be written.

“We’re always evolving and listening to what people are telling us,” Hegwood said. “One reviewer said on the website that after being here, they talked about it for hours and hours. That’s what we want, to make a memory for families and friends to remember.

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Pandora’s Puzzle is open Thursday through Sunday, from 4:30 p.m. until last order taken at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, hours 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. , booking available today.

The cost is $25 per person hour, with a minimum of two people and a maximum of six. Escape rooms are open to those ages eight and up, anyone under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over 21. Company discounts are available on the website for business and parties.

Virtual reality stations are $8 for a 15 minute session. Players must be 12 years of age or older and the height requirement is 54-inches. In the near future there will be membership programs that will be more cost-effective for repeat customers.

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