in their own words by Shelly Burton

Locked in a room for an hour, and faced with a series of conundrums to solve? It might not seem everyone’s idea of fun initially. But, “escape rooms” are the fastest growing sector of the entertainment industry since the cinema! In the past four years, over six hundred have sprouted up across the country, and Derby’s own MAKE YOUR ESCAPE is at the forefront of the industry in terms of creativity and local connections, and are currently ranked the Number 1 Attraction in Derby on TripAdvisor!

In 2013, owner Shelly Burton and her partner Tim Horwood were spending the weekend in Budapest, Hungary. They noticed that the Number 1 Attraction in the city was an escape room. So was Number 2, and Number 3… Having never heard of the genre, they decided to give it a whirl. Sixty minutes later, having opened padlocks, found codes and solved clues, they were amazed at just how much fun this was. They quickly realised Derby needed something like this.

Two years later, and following Shelly’s redundancy from a job selling training, the couple decided to open the city’s first escape room. With the invaluable support of the Prince’s Trust the idea gathered pace and the business was born. But, they wanted to offer something different to the other escape rooms sprouting up across the country. “We wanted to give Derby some incredibly immersive themes, with strong narratives to our games, and also implement special effects”, Shelly tells ImSavvy. “We didn’t want to just create a room full of locks and codes but, instead, set our games locally in an almost parallel universe within Derby! We draw on local legends and stories as our inspiration: such as the little recounted tale of the Witches of Bakewell, who were hanged for witchcraft in the streets of Derby in the seventeenth century, and newspaper reports of lights in the sky over the city. We also like to work with local companies, including Furthest From The Sea, a talented group of Derby’s actors, musicians and artists, who help bring the Make Your Escape world to its theatrical life.”

Make Your Escape opened in June 2016, with ‘The Signal’, set around a seemingly abandoned military bunker in Derby…holding a mystery. Shelly and Tim set about writing a story, which would unfold as teams of friends, families and colleagues played the game. Teams have to communicate with each other, observe, and solve logical (rather than difficult) puzzles. There are surprises, special effects, and, uniquely, a choice to make which determines the ending of the story. “We are so proud of The Signal”, Shelly continues, “It begins as a kind of treasure hunt, introduces some escape room basics as the first escape room in Derby, transcends into a mystery, and then ramps up the pace, finally asking the team to work together and make a key decision!”. We are already being asked to write a sequel, and have one penned.

Five months later, ‘Spellbound’ opened. With an even more immersive set, the game was deliberately designed to be very different. “Escape rooms are traditionally linear…players solve a puzzle, then move onto the next one. We’d continually been asked about a room for a larger group, so we decided to create a game which meant groups of people could play the same game but solve different puzzles at the same time. We don’t know of anywhere in the country that does this and, whilst it makes it a challenge (but not impossible) for smaller teams, it’s particularly popular for corporate team-building, as the room is designed for up to 10 people. It really gets people working together and the sense of achievement they get from solving something together is truly incredible”.

With their third and fourth rooms opening this Summer, Make Your Escape are looking to do something different again. “We can’t reveal too much just yet, but the next two rooms will be unique and, whilst they will be individual from each other, they will be a part of the same story”.

Quick to point out that their rooms are not “scary” and not intentionally claustrophobic, Shelly insists the emphasis is on fun and immersion – it’s like starring in your own movie, but games supervisors are on hand to give you a nudge in the right direction, should it be needed.

“We believe that EVERY experience is unique – we dedicate a Games Supervisor specifically to your experience, for maximum enjoyment, and to provide a nudge in the right direction should you need it.”

If you haven’t already visited Make Your Escape, it’s situated in Derby city centre, by the rings structure at the top of St.Peter’s Street, where it meets Osmaston Road. An unassuming building, it contains a world which will really help you make your escape from reality and test your inner-sleuth skills!

Open daily, with games starting at 10am until late, teams of 2-10 people and all abilities, are racing to experience this increasingly popular venue.


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4 Osmaston Road,

Telephone: 07572542451

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