Southern Maryland’s first escape room entertainment business opens at Escape from the Past LLC on Three Notch Road in California, Md.

Escape from the Past offers themed escape room adventure games where players work as a team to find clues and hints, solve puzzles and use strategy to unlock a room’s mystery and “escape” before time runs out.

Owners Trisha Radocaj, Daniel Radocaj and John Tonkyro launched the live action adventure business in October of last year, to make it the first of its kind in the Southern Maryland area.

Trisha Radocaj said the idea to start an escape room business of her own began in December 2016 during a trip she took to visit her family.

“My cousins took me to one near Chicago and I thought ‘this is so fun, we could totally have this by our house’,” she said. “So, then I went to another one in Indianapolis, and then I went to another one in Ohio, making the family visit over the holidays.”

After months of research, planning and escape room construction, the doors to Escape from the Past opened to the public.

“There’s nothing like this in Southern Maryland,” Trisha Radocaj said. “We don’t have anything like this and it’s fun.”

Radocaj said escape rooms, like the ones at Escape from the Past, are actually physical versions of a virtual concept.

“They originated from online games, like point-and-click, looking for clues to escape from a virtual room,” she said. “You are given a mission and, generally speaking, it’s to escape out of the room that you’re put in.”

“You have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles, until you solve the mystery and figure out how to get out of the room,” she added.

“Doc’s Lab” and “Escape from Cell Block 99” are two of the 60-minute escape room games featured at Escape from the Past. In Doc’s Lab, a team of two to 10 players go back to the 1980s in search of fuel to make a return trip home. Escape from Cell Block 99 tasks a group of four to eight players with retracing the steps from a previous prison break to make the same escape.

“There’s a storyline behind the room and we give you a briefing before you go in,” Tonkyro said. “Then we put you in the room and you have to just look around and try to figure out where to go.”

Typically, you don’t start off with a lot of information,” he said. “You just have to puzzle your way out. The fun of it is solving all those puzzles.”

Tonkyro said a third escape room is scheduled to open early this year with a theme that’s inspired by the local legend of Moll Dyer.

“This is definitely something that’s unique to this area,” he said. “People coming from out of the area would come to see this.”

Tonkyro said players typically include friends and families looking for a fun night out, as well as students or co-workers from schools and organizations who look to the event as a team-building exercise.

“We absolutely support team-building events,” Tonkyro said. “On top of that, a lot of families come in … we just had two separate volleyball teams come through … friends just wanting something to do on a Friday or Saturday evening.”

“We even had a group of S.T.E.M. students come through. They did really well,” he said.

Going forward, Tonkyro said he plans to change the themes of the escape rooms on a rotating basis so players can have more new mind-challenging fun and adventure.

“I thought a great reason for doing this was because I enjoyed it and I had fun,” Trisha Radocaj said. “But I didn’t know how much fun I’d have when other people are going through.”

For more information on Escape from the Past, or to book an adventure online, go to www.escapefromthepast.com.