Dan Pool / Photo
In the laser-tag arena, owners Kevin (l) and Ryan O’Dea. The brothers have created an entertainment mecca with games, a rage room and escape rooms on E. Church Street.
From laser tag in a post-apocalyptic setting to free-roam virtual reality games to escape rooms, no longer can people say there’s nothing for kids to do in Jasper.
Escape and Evade officially opened October 20 at 934 East Church Street (former Save-A-Lot area) in a spacious 26,000 square foot space, bringing entertainment options for people of all ages.
Brothers Ryan and Kevin O’Dea spent months planning and building to get everything from the realistic store setting in the laser tag arena to the pirates table in the escape room just right.
Kevin, who has lived in Jasper for the past several years, comes with a background in movie special effects and the results show in the elaborate details in the building.
In a tour Friday, Ryan showed all the different options they offer, which should attract people from around the region.
A 17-year resident of Jasper and city firefighter, Ryan said they have worked to make Escape and Evade a place kids will have fun and get plenty of exercise. They worked to merge the idea/feel of popular video games into real-life action – the laser tag gun options will be familiar to anyone who has played Call of Duty or other shooter games.
The brothers plan tournaments of all types with the laser tag, and the virtual reality gaming, plus more than 30 arcade games. The site also offers a regular food truck stop from the local Domin8.
A look at some of the options:
• Party Rooms can handle anything needed for birthday parties.
•Virtual Reality Free Roam – “VR,” as it’s often called, allows people to get inside the video games by wearing the goggles moving around in a special area set aside for virtual gaming. They have 40 different games to choose from, ranging from shooter games to sports. One customer comes by regularly to travel the world with the Google Earth virtual reality.
•Rage Room – surely the most interesting concept and one that is already established in many places. The set up is simple: with different packages they put different breakable stuff in a plywood room, you put on coveralls, gloves and a face-shield, then you pick your music and go to town, breaking stuff.
Ryan said it is amazing how many people describe feeling better after a few minutes of slamming glassware and old electronics with hammers, bats and golf clubs. “There’s nothing glamorous, you just go in there and break stuff,” he said. And, the staff does all the clean up at the end.
• Laser Tag – Occupying 7,000 square feet, the arena is an awesome place to do battle, shooting beams from the gaming guns at other people who have receivers that show when they are hit. There are different sections to hide behind, with your team taking cover and planning assaults. The areas inside the arena range from a grocery store to a park and includes obstacles like a car to hide behind. Ryan said the teens love it and the adults who play all come away soaked in sweat.
• Escape Rooms – Bringing a trend in entertainment to Jasper, there are three escape rooms in the facility. These are a purely mental, problem solving activity. “No brute force required,” Ryan said.
People enter a creepy room with numerous clues about a mystery that can be found inside. You work out different puzzles, figure out the riddles and new clues are discovered, eventually leading you out. But as the owners point out, you aren’t ever really locked in the room and you will never be required to climb anything or crawl, just use your noggin to solve the mystery. You have one hour to do it.
The facility features three escape rooms: a Goonies themed - Curse of the Inferno; a wizard/werewolf themed - Secret of the Full Moon Society; and one still in the works that will rely heavily on electronics and is spaceship themed.
Ryan said the Goonies is the easiest. The Full Moon Society has about a 50 percent completion rate thus far. Groups of up to 10 are welcome with four people being ideal.
Escape and Evade is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. Friday 3:30 until 10 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.
“We have a lot of stuff,” Ryan said. “It’s the perfect spot for the kids to run off some energy.”
For more information and prices see escapenevade.com