The Great Lakes Escape Game opened its doors in Frankenmuth on Aug. 20, 2016, as one of Michigan’s first escape rooms.
SVSU alumni Joe Wisniewski, who graduated with his master’s degree in 2016, and Jim Terry, class of 1986, partnered up to create the escape room.
Escape rooms have an intricate set-up, with each aspect of the room serving a purpose. Even though each game is unique, they each run for the duration of an hour, and participants can exit at any time. During the game, individuals known as “game masters” are working behind the scenes to send hints and clues to help those playing the game solve the puzzle.
Currently, there are three different games that guests can play; The Heist, Black Beard’s Brig and the Lucky Duck Speakeasy.
The Heist is set inside of a dead man’s art gallery. Each player is given the role of a thief. The goal of the game is to solve puzzles and figure out how to steal the diamond from the art gallery in the allotted amount of time.
“The Heist is my favorite because it’s more interactive,” Wisniewski said. “Many escape rooms are set up where steps A, B and C will open a lock. The Heist is unique. Maybe you need to set a few items in a certain place on top of something you don’t really notice. The technology is starting to catch on, but we’re a little bit ahead with that from a technology standpoint.”
In Black Beard’s Brig, the participants are captured by the pirate, Black Beard, and have to figure out how to escape.
The Lucky Duck Speakeasy has a slightly different setup than the other two games. In that room, the participants have to figure out who is running it by finding clues. The fictitious suspect did set a time bomb, so time is of the essence.
“The hints are not a freebie, but we try to help everyone get a majority of the way through so they can get their money’s worth,” Wisniewski said.
In addition to the three main rooms, Great Lakes Escape Games is also launching something rather new, their a mobile escape room. The tiki-themed mobile escape room is a 15-foot-by-15-foot foot pop-up. Instead of the typical hour-long game, this will be a half-hour long.
“We can take this to a business or any facility that doesn’t want to send everyone here,” Wisniewski said. “It can be taken anywhere. This is a big thing. A lot of people don’t know what escape rooms are. This is going to be our way of showing its fun; we want everyone to have fun.”
Since opening, the business has been quite successful and has had visitors from all over the world.
“There is a peg board on the wall for all the guests to show where they have come from, and I’ve run out of pegs several times,” Wisniewski said. “We get such a diverse crowd in Frankenmuth. We’ve had people come from everywhere.”
Wisniewski comes from a family of entrepreneurs but credits SVSU for sparking his interest in becoming a business owner himself.
“It is very rewarding and tough, but my SVSU experiences have really helped assimilate me to be successful thus far,” Wisniewski said. “I don’t know where this industry is going. It’s exciting since it’s been building up so much. It could fold up tomorrow, or it could last forever like a bowling alley or movie theater. I don’t know, so it’s really exciting to be on that curve.”
Students interested in the Great Lakes Escape Game can play Friday through Sunday. Hours are posted on their website: