Deep in the ’burbs of Roseville, situated inside an otherwise nondescript office park, a puzzle room holds clues that stretch from Mar-a-Lago to hijinks inside the White House.
Should you accept the mission at Tales From The Cryptex – and pay the $25 to $28 per person fee – the goal is to “Escape Trump’s America.”
As the clock ticks, participants scramble and scheme to solve a series of puzzles that reveal eight items. Among them: A passport, plane ticket, clothes and other objects that enable an escape to Canada, and away from the country led by President Donald Trump.
Plenty of puzzle room attractions operate around the Sacramento area, where groups pay to decipher a series of puzzles and clues to “escape” from a locked room. Many are themed around Sherlock Holmes, haunted houses, wizardry and other basic fantasy elements. But this puzzle room at 9071 Foothills Blvd. takes its cues – and clues – from the current state of politics and a tongue-in-cheek approach to Trump.
As the clock ticks, participants scramble and scheme to solve a series of puzzles that reveal eight items that enable an escape to Canada
“This is ‘YUGE,’ ” declares an audio clue in the room that was recorded by a Trump impersonator. “Good luck, and remember: I have the nuclear codes and I am rich!”
Tales From The Cryptex debuted in March from owners Jason Lo and Christian Fitch, but not without some pushback from a few Trump supporters.
After all, Roseville leans “red” politically, where according to the Placer County Elections Division, 49 percent of Roseville voters picked Trump in the 2016 election and 42 percent voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In Placer County overall, 51 percent of voters went with Trump in the 2016 election while 40 percent voted for Clinton.
We thought it would be funny, and a little controversial. The only downside is it seems like people who are Republican are turned off by the idea. We’re not Trump bashing
Jason Lo, part owner of the
It’s no wonder that some red-hat wearing Trump supporters weren’t amused with news of the puzzle room.
“One of the first comments we got (on Facebook) was from some ex-military guy who said, ‘Go hang yourselves,’ ” said Lo, on a recent morning at the puzzle room. “We’re not saying Trump should die or anything. It’s just kind of ridiculous with what’s going on and we wanted to have some fun with it.”
Lo himself is fairly centrist politically. He’s a former Seattle-area resident who’s previously voted for both Presidential Barack Obama and a Republican candidate for the governor of Washington.
But given the tenor of current events, Lo and Fitch saw an opportunity to capitalize on the political climate to create their own puzzle room. So far, Lo says that business has been a little slow but anticipates more customers as word spreads. For now, Tales From the Cryptex is open Thursdays through Sundays, and by special appointment, for the chance to “Escape Trump’s America.”
“We started thinking about this in November, right around the election,” said Lo. “We thought it would be funny, and a little controversial. The only downside is it seems like people who are Republican are turned off by the idea. We’re not Trump bashing.”
The puzzle room space itself might as well be a bedroom office in a Roseville tract home. But search around the 11 foot by 17 foot space, and puzzles are packed in all sorts of nooks and crannies. A large office desk with multiple drawers begs to be rummaged through to discover clues, while a nearby bookcase with “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward, a Richard Nixon biography and other politically oriented books line the shelf.
And what’s this? A golf club that says, “Trump National Golf Club – Mar-a-Lago.” This must be some kind of clue, too. Other clues are broadcast on a monitor, which at times take the form of Tweets from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Lo, an engineer by background, and Fitch designed the room’s puzzle schemes and spent about four months with a focus group of friends and family to refine the experience. Given the humor with all things Trump, the escape room has so far appealed mostly to those on the left side of the political spectrum.
Good luck, and remember: I have the nuclear codes and I am rich.
Trump impersonator recording to players at the Escape Trump’s America’ puzzle room
“The people that we’ve had have usually been pretty liberal,” said Lo. “They really enjoy the ridiculousness of the puzzles and clues, but are just good with the logic involved.”
Participants have 50 minutes to decipher all the clues, along with completing a series of written and mechanical puzzles that clear the way to the promised land of Canada. Along the way, participants have to grapple with wiretaps, crack codes and more.
So far, the fastest time of completion clocked in at just over 47 minutes.
Kari Hazen of Roseville and a multi-generational group of family members are recent escapees from Trump’s America. They solved the final puzzle with just seconds to spare, and celebrated as the Canadian national anthem filled the room, signifying that the group successfully completed its mission.
Hazen said their family group represented various shades of the political spectrum, and enjoyed the room as an interactive kind of outing.
“It was pretty fun with all the clues that were relevant to today,” said Hazen. “It’s something to do as a family, where you’re not all on your screens or iPhones. You had to work together.”
There’s no cash winnings or other prize booty to score from solving “Escape Trump’s America.” Just the notion of outwitting a pretend Trump and the creators of the puzzle room is satisfaction enough.
And at least Trump couldn’t call you out as a “loser” on Twitter.
“We felt jazzed and energetic when we left,” said Hazen. “It was definitely worth a night out.”