Trap Doors, Speakeasies, & Escape Rooms

Lisa and I are just getting home from the most restful and rejuvenating trip that we have taken in years.

One stop along that trip was an evening out at the San Diego speakeasy Young Blood. As a bar, Young Blood was stellar. As an experience, it was even more phenomenal.

We paid for a seating at a fixed price. When we sat down a mixologist asked us about our drink preferences. After a chat about our individual likes and dislikes a drink showed up. The first of three… an appetizer, main course, and dessert. To put it succinctly, Lisa and I had an incredible time drinking and talking over finely crafted cocktails in an elegant environment.

An elegant bar with a glowing statue of a woman holding up a light.

Part of the experience of Young Blood and other speakeasies is the entryway. This was the only point where I’d call the quality of Young Blood mixed. The trap door is an essential part of the speakeasy vibe. With a decade or so in the escape room world, we have learned a thing or two about hidden doorways.

Just Say No To Light Leaks

Young Blood had a pair of trap doors. One was perfect. The other was almost there:

A wall of beer kegs that is a trap door. You can see light along the upper end of the door and along the sides.

This keg door was really nifty at first glance, but the light leaking through on three sides really undermined its purpose.

It was still quite cool, and a great moment, but we see this all too often in escape rooms and other businesses that try to employ hidden passageways.

How to Create a Trap Door

The key ingredients to a good trap door are as follows:

  1. A great concept – you need a good idea… ideally not a bookcase. They can be great, but they are too expected.
  2. Nail the hinge – you need a strong and reliable hinge to make the trap door work. You may have to put the trap door on casters to support the weight.
  3. Obscure everything – to really sell the fiction, you need to hide the evidence that a trap door exists. This means hiding seams, blocking out light leaks, and ensuring that the door isn’t leaving tracks on the floor.

Each part of this process is key to making a good trap door because wonder requires surprise and small context clues can undermine that.

Young Blood’s keg door was so close to perfect. It’s a small detail that’s easily lost in an otherwise beautifully constructed world. However, at the level that Young Blood is operating, these details matter. That said, with the second trap door, Young Blood nailed the delivery… to say more would be a spoiler.

A Much Needed Break

Lisa and I haven’t taken a computer-less break in about 8 years. This trip has been restful and reinvigorating and we’re coming off of it with a ton of new ideas and fresh energy.

As always, we need to thank the folks who make what we do possible. Our Patreon community is an essential part of empowering us to both do the work that we do here… and take a bit of time off. Thank you to everyone who supports us.

Special shout out to those who joined this month: Kevin McKain, Jeff Keys, Jen Merrill, Zac Mackrell, Marc P, and B Zant.

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