By Sandy Meyer

A new craze is sweeping the country and has now made its way to Tampa. Escape rooms are the newest themed entertainment that has people coming back again and again.

Escape Countdown opened its doors in early January and is the most recent escape room in Tampa. Owners Renee Ryckman and her husband Brent Alexander from Sarasota first fell in love with the escape concept while on vacation in Asia with their children.

“We needed something to do on a rainy day and thought it would be a great thing to do as a family, especially since it can be so hard to find something everyone wants to do,” Ryckman said.

What started out as a rainy day activity soon became a family-favorite activity and the family participated in over 40 different escape experiences around the world. The husband and wife team both have a business background so they took their experiences and decided to open their own escape concept.

In the escape room experience, teams are locked in a room for 60 minutes and given clues. They must work together against the clock to collect all of the clues that will eventually lead to their release.

“This is a great concept for team building because everyone brings their own talents to the table and you learn a lot about the people you’re playing with,” Ryckman said.

Escape Countdown currently offers two different experiences including Jailbreak and Mad Hatter. Ryckman said that four more experiences will be rolled out over the next six months so that eventually they will offer six experiences at all times. This, she said, differentiates them from other escape experiences. They also offer a party room which can be used for team building lunches, birthday parties or any type of celebration.

In addition to the Tampa location, the family will be opening a location in Sarasota in late February and another in the Atlanta area in mid-summer. Escape Countdown is located at 4536 W. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa. For more information on individual and group pricing or to book a time, visit www. or call 327-7898.

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