The mystery of DB Cooper is the stuff legends are made of. This real-life hijacker managed to evade police for decades, but now a local business makes it possible for you to play detective. The latest version of an escape room experience in Hazel Dell gives visitors just 60 minutes to solve what the professionals haven’t been able to unravel since that fateful day in 1971.

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NW Escape Experiences brings a local twist to the escape room fun in Hazel Dell. Photo courtesy: NW Escape Experience

For visitors new to the escape room market, this is a real-time, in-person game played with a group. It can be friends celebrating an event like a birthday or co-workers looking to do some exciting team building, or just a group of friends needing something to do on a Friday night. The premise is simple, the group is locked inside a themed room that is filled with clues. Your task is to solve each clue to get access to the next one and solve the mystery, allowing you to “escape.”

NW Escape Experiences offers three different rooms, with the novice level room being “Operation: DB Cooper.” This room, of course, focuses on the mystery surrounding the mid-air escape of DB Cooper. In groups of two to six people, armchair detectives dive into the puzzle to see where the clues take them.

The DB Cooper room is family friendly and starts with the most straightforward set of clues. This room is challenging enough for a fun evening, but also a great first exposure to an escape room. The fact that this is also directly tied to a real-life local legend makes this room a favorite for both tourists and locals. Owners Rob & Tamara Bertrand have taken great strides to make this a unique Northwest experience.

Groups are ushered into a large room where all of the crime-fighting exercises take place. The clock starts with the first clue, and the pressure builds as you only have 60 minutes to figure out what all the clues mean. The excitement builds as reality sets in that you are locked in a room with timing ticking away. It is also exhilarating to know that the solution to each room is within your reach, you just have to solve the puzzle.

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The Bertrand family adds an interesting local twist to their escape rooms.
Photo courtesy: NW Escape Experience

A few visitors always ask about the staff available for help during the puzzle and whether the rooms are locked. The idea of being locked inside is more a part of the thrill, but for safety, the groups are not ever actually locked inside. They can leave at any time or connect with a staff member for support.

During the hour-long puzzle, there is a staff member with the group there to help as needed. While they will not give you cheats, they are quick to help if anyone in the group gets scared or needs a break from the room. These staff are called “Game Masters,” and they add to the overall gameplay.

The experience costs $29 a person, and in general, one needs to make reservations. They are also available for private parties outside of regular hours for groups of 10 or more.

Beyond the trendy DB Cooper room, they also have another Vancouver focused room. This time it is a bit more intense and may not be suitable for the whole family. It is called “The Kill Room” and looks like something right out of a horror movie, because it is. It’s based off of serial killer Ronnie “The Vantucky Ripper” Watts. Unlike DB Cooper, this room is not based on actual events. That being said, it is scary none the less.

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There are three different rooms to solve and the themes will most likely change as time goes on. Photo courtesy: NW Escape Experience

Watts is said to have kidnapped the group that starts their 60 minutes in this room. It looks more like a dungeon than anything else. This room is made to be scary, and this is why it is not made for small children. Just as with all the rooms, the group is said to be locked inside, but in reality, they can exit as needed.

For those looking for a fun bachelor party or grown-up birthday party challenge, the third room may be what they are looking for. This room is modeled after the movie the Hangover, and it is called the “Hangover Hotel.” The puzzle is not as intense as the Kill Room but has more of an adult humor focus. This is the room that is meant to be more of a comedy than anything else. The basic idea is that a group of friends are trying to put together just what happened during that legendary trip to Vegas.

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