As we approach the Halloween season, people are looking for perhaps a different experience to have fun for the eve of All Saints' Day, the "Hall Of Shadows" might be the perfect escape.
Located in The Enterprise Building in the heart of downtown San Bernardino, CA., Hall Of Shadows sits in a building with a rich nostalgic history with tunnels that were erected during this country's prohibition period, and boasts the city of San Bernardino's first brewery.
There has even said to be whispers from a ghost or two from years gone by. In fact, there was a paranormal activity investigation conducted in the building that aired on TV, and film crews and people of all ages come to experience the mind bending challenges of the escape rooms in the Hall of Shadows.
I caught up with the brains behind the creation of Hall of Shadows, Ryan Carter, who is a professional visual artist and tech geek who has worked professionally as digital animator and special effects Creator in Hollywood for years, to find out what makes the Hall of Shadows such a fun and “hair raising“ experience for its patrons.
So, What Is An Escape Game/Room?
You and your team will assemble in a themed room and will have one hour to complete your mission and “escape” the room. A successful escape will require you to find hidden clues and solve challenging puzzles throughout the room. So take a look underneath the rug or sift through the books on the shelves, and take a closer look at all those paintings on the wall. You may find a string of numbers you need for a combination lock or a good old-fashioned key for a padlock. Everywhere you look is a potential clue to get out of an escape room or riddle waiting to be solved. But hurry, the clock starts ticking the moment you enter the escape room!
- What Is An Escape Room? | The Escape Game
Wondering what exactly an escape room is? Learn from the experts about this new and exciting form of experiential entertainment.
Q&A with Ryan Carter of Hall Of Shadows
RW) Ryan, you are the creator of one of the Hall of Shadows, "an immersive escape room (game) experience in downtown San Bernardino". For our readers who don't know, what exactly is an escape room, and how did you come up with the idea of starting this game?
Ryan) Well for those who might be unfamiliar with them, an escape room is a live-action game where a team of people is placed in a themed room and must complete some sort of complicated task or assignment within a set time frame. This will often involve activities like finding hidden objects, cracking codes, solving riddles and puzzles, locating hidden compartments, etc. For me, the ideas mainly come from things I've seen in various films. Since there are so many great adventure/sci-fi/horror themes that are commonly used in various films, I tend to use these in the games since our audience is likely already familiar with them. You want a theme that's engaging, but also easy for the players to understand.
RW) And your escape room is located in The Enterprise Building in downtown San Bernardino?
Ryan) Well, technically we are located UNDER the Enterprise Building at 320 North E St in downtown San Bernardino. But yes, our guests do enter through the building's main entrance. We always tell those who inquire to make a reservation before arriving because our facility is very well hidden below the building and would be next to impossible to find without an escort from one of our team members.
RW) How did you come to choose The Enterprise Building as the place where the Hall of Shadows would be located, and how long have you been operating there?
Ryan) It's an interesting story. I came across the listing for this building multiple times while looking for a location for the escape room, but I hesitated making contact because past experience had taught me that office buildings prefer typical office tenants and, with the weekend and late-night operation, the heavy renovation work required, and the potential for noise, I figured the odds would be against me here. But, the location stuck out in my mind because it had an incredible lobby and I knew I could use that as a great jumping off point for the escape room theming. Ironically, I ended up helping another local escape room put on a big Halloween event, but we lost our space and I was trying to find alternatives. I contacted the Enterprise Building and asked about available space for the haunted house, but that proved to be impractical. I then followed up with questions relating to renting a small space for a new business, questions like "How late is your lobby open to the public?". The response I got was "We are currently open until 5PM, but we may extend that as we are looking to put in an escape room". It turns out they had already planned to have an escape room here, so it ended up working out well for all of us. The building owner gave us a very generous deal and we opened our doors in March of 2019.
RW) I understand that you have had quite a career yourself as a professional visual artist tech kind of guy. Tell our readers a little about your career beyond The Hall of Shadows.
Ryan) Well for 20 years I did 3D animation and compositing for a number of film and TV projects. While I had a few big A-List titles under my belt, most of the work was for commercials, basic cable TV shows (like "Dogfights" and "Cities Of The Underworld") and a number of low budget direct-to-video sci-fi films, many of which ended up on the SyFy Channel at one point or another. I also spent a couple years taking on a somewhat unusual task ... doing visual effect for the adult film industry. There was a period of time where parodies of big-budget films were in high demand, so I provided the cheesy, low budget effects for parodies of such fims as Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Superman, Spiderman, etc. Much of this work (minus the adult stuff) was done under my company name, "Hall Of Shadows Animation and Visual Effects". I closed that business down in 2016 due to market changes, but I kept the name as it actually works much better as an escape room name than it ever did as a production company.
RW) Who can participate in these games?
Ryan) Our games are open to anyone and everyone. While we recommend players be at least 8 years of age, all ages are welcome and there is no charge for kids 5 and under. We normally allow people who utilize a wheelchair to play, however that is sadly on hold temporarily as our building elevators are going through a major upgrade and that process has been slowed by the pandemic. We hope to resume serving guests in wheelchairs in the near future. For groups who wish to play, we simply require that at least one player be 18 years old or over, that at least one player be fluent in English (we have written and audio clues that are only presented in English), at that at least one player is able-bodied so that they may reach objects in awkward places. Any group that meets these requirements can reserve a game online at hallofshadows.com . Reservations are required. ReplyForward
RW) What are some of the escape room scenarios you have for those who would like to come try it out, is there like a beginner to advance type of set ups?
Ryan) We currently have two games at our location. "The Signal" has you enter an abandoned communications bunker where you must lock onto an alien signal and decode it before the alien craft reaches Earth. This is a fairly difficult game that is generally better for larger groups and experienced players. Our other game, "Shadow Menagerie", sends players into a storage area filled with a variety of cursed and posessed objects that have been collected from across the globe. These haunted items are starting to get restless and players must find a way to calm these restless spirits before they manage to escape. This game is easier and is geared towards families, smaller groups, and novice players. It has a few surprises inside, but its only about as scary as Disney's Haunted Mansion. On top of these, we are adding remote games that are played outdoors in real locations utilizing a mobile app. We currently have "Station 7", our easiest game so far, available in downtown Redlands. This game challenges players to make contact with an abandoned outpost that was used to monitor paranormal activity. This game is relatively new and we hope to roll out more games like it in the near future.
RW) How much fun is it for you to see patrons come to The Hall of Shadows, and just have the best time, and what is the craziest thing you can recall a participant do who may have been having trouble figuring a clue out?
Ryan) As for it being fun, there are no words. This is without a doubt the most fun and entertaining job I have ever had (and remember, that includes adult film work!) There are times in these games where things can get a bit heated between players, but when the game ends, everyone is always in a great mood and leaves with a smile on their face. As far as crazy things that go on in the games, I do see a lot of crazy stuff, but most of it is nothing more than massive gaps in logic. For example, you will have 2 players where one is hunting far and wide for a key to a lock while the other player has already found the key and is walking around with it in their hand. Neither player is communicating, so nothing gets done. Communication breakdowns within teams is one of the most common problems we see. Some of the really crazy stuff is when players find solutions to puzzles that we never thought of ourselves. In our old game, "NUMB3RZ", we had a button that had to be held down by a player continuosly while another players carry out specific tasks. Well, one player didn't want to just sit there and hold a button down, so he came up with an elaborate method of standing a broom up on the button to keep it pressed without supervision. I never thought he would make it work, but he did!
RW) We are of course coming into the Halloween season. Are there any special events or games being added on for patrons to get a really scary/fun experience, anything new in the works?
Ryan) That's a bit of a sore subject to be honest. Did we have plans for Halloween? Absolutely. Do those plans work within the chaos of COVID19? Not even remotely. Instead of the large Halloween haunt we had hoped to run here in the building, we are instead creating a new experimental remote game where players download the app and are navigated to drive to real, actual locations in the area that are rumored to be haunted. They will then make contact with the spirits through the app and receive clues that will lead them to a secret final location. This game is still in development, but it will be the first of three new "Haunted Highways" games that we hope to roll out soon.
RW) Where do you hope to see The Hall of Shadows in a year or two years with escape room games, are there any new aspects with tech evolving the games?
Ryan) Well a third game room is an absolute must! We have the space and know what we want to do, but money is just too tight during the pandemic to pull the trigger on that just yet. Hopefully soon, as what we have planned promises to be our most exciting room yet! We also plan to create a new game using our two existing rooms where teams as large as 20 people will split up, occupy each room, and have to find clues in each room that their teammates in the other room require. Both teams will be in radio contact, so this game will have a strong focus on team work and communication. On top of all that, we also plan to roll out more location-based remote games as well as seasonal events like Halloween. If all that comes to pass, there are all kinds of additional expansion possibilities for us here at the Enterprise Building. As far as the tech, I'm always looking for new and exciting items on the market, but I've found that the real trick is finding new and creative ways to use existing tech. Everything we use here RFID tags, black lights, lasers, magnetic locks is stuff you will find in virtually any escape room. But we have been told by many experienced players that we utilize it in ways they have never seen before. Giving a player a unique experience is always a top priority, so any tool we can find new or old, that lets us do something new or different is a tool we want in our toolbox.
RW) How can people find you and The Hall of Shadows on the internet Ryan?
Ryan) Our website can be found at hallofshadows.com
Thank you for informing our readers about this fun experience patrons have, and can have, at The Enterprise Building in The Hall of Shadows Ryan.
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- Hall Of Shadows Escape Games
Hall Of Shadows Escape Games is an immersively themed escape room experience located in downtown San Bernardino. Our facility features three escape games - THE SIGNAL, SHADOW MENAGERIE, and the RIFT as well as remote games that take place in various
Hall Of Shadows at The Enterprise Building, San Bernardino, CA.
320 N E Street
San Bernardino, CA 92401
Opens 2:30 PM
- Frequently Asked Questions — Hall Of Shadows Escape Games
Find out more about Hall Of Shadows Escape Games and learn everything you need to know to experience one of our themed escape rooms.
What Are You Doin’ For Halloween? Leave A Comment Below!
Abby Slutsky from America on September 25, 2020:
This looks fun. I did my first escape room last year with my family.