Trapped Toledo: Spy-themed interactive thrilled experience ‘Rescued’ to debut Nov. 12Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
You are locked in a laboratory, surrounded by strangers. The room is filled with the basic accoutrement of research — books, a microscope, file folders. It would not seem unusual except for a gruesome addition: Across from you, chained to the wall, is a ravenous, flesh-eating zombie. Every so often, its chain gets a little bit more slack. It’s coming closer and closer. There is a way out of the room. But you must all work together to find it in time.
If this sounds fun, you may be ready to join the hundreds of players who have experienced Trapped Toledo since its inception this past summer. The interactive thriller experience located on Key Street hosts a pair of themed “rooms” designed to test players’ nerves, wits and ability to keep a level head in an effort to triumph.
Slightly secluded in the shopping plaza next to Burger Bar 419, Trapped Toledo has nevertheless become one of the hottest tickets in town for players looking for a unique and special gaming experience. Whether they come to test their skills in the zombie-themed “Infected” room, or to still their wits in the bomb-themed “Blown Away” experience, groups of ten-to-twelve come together to try and solve each scenario’s devilish puzzles before it’s too late.
It’s a basic concept that has fascinated Kimmer Callahan, Trapped’s chief marketing officer, and his fellow team members ever since they first learned of other interactive games of its ilk. “We did a ton of research on other models like this,” Callahan said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “It started in Asia, it kind of came across the pond, it was done pretty badly in the States, thus far. … We don’t have any competition in Toledo, but as we expand, we’re going to have competition in some of our other areas that we’re targeting. ”
Their love for the idea of an experience that would merge puzzles, role-playing and thriller elements inspired Callahan and his friends — mostly former UT and BGSU grads — to launch their own version. They were also convinced they could do it better than anyone they had seen before.
“We’re all puzzle people. We love puzzles, games, board games. I used to do murder mysteries for friends,” Callahan said. “And Chris and I — Chris is my nephew — and he and I have talked for years about starting a business together. And when this came over, we were like, ‘This is fun!’
“And then we went to one, and we were like, ‘That was awesome!’ Then we walked out, and we were like, there were a thousand things we would change, to make that better. And by the time we left that table — there were ten of us in the room — by the time we left that table, everybody except for two invested in this business. And Chris and I — and Tiffany, who’s my wife — just took it the rest of the way.”
Part of the growth of the business has been keeping a constant eye out for new ideas, mainly from cast members and other collaborators. A new room will debut on November 12, from a script written by a member of the Trapped cast, and both of the current scenarios have seen a wide variety of changes and additions, courtesy of the feedback from attendees and cast alike.
“We have no experience in theater. We rely on others that have experience,” Callahan said, pointing to Misty Young, assistant manager at Trapped, who often plays the research assistant in the “Infected” scenario. “I think just getting in here and having them help us learn, as well as having us learn on the fly — I think that’s just what business is all about anyway. Just making mistakes and fixing it, making it better, messing up again and doing it again.”
They’ve also learned some surprising things about the makeup of their audience during their first few months. One might expect that if fans enjoyed one scenario the team offered, they would be ready and willing to try the other — but Callahan estimated that only about 10% do.
“There’s something about the immediate — being able to see the danger — that some people don’t like,” Young said, referring to the “Infected” room. “Those would be the same people that maybe don’t like haunted houses, things jumping out at them. Knowing there’s a bomb there is one thing, but actually having somebody, the immediate [danger] … some people just don’t like that. So it’s kind of like two sides of the same coin.”
But no matter what the tastes of their audiences are, the Trapped crew are prepared to keep working and evolving their fiendish scenarios to give audiences a thrill like no other. The Halloween season and its ever-present haunted houses may soon be over, but at Trapped Toledo — and wherever expansion may take them — the fun screams will just keep right on rolling.
“I feel like this one’s much more of a guttural, fear-based thing,” Callahan said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh my God, there’s a guy with a chainsaw!’ Like, jump-scary. This has, like, periodic screams, but it’s a constant, building tension.”