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Lock and Key Escape Rooms busting out on Minnehaha Ave.

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Behind an unassuming storefront at 4020 Minnehaha Ave., brothers Alex and Tony Ducklow have created an adventure-based business called the Lock and Key Escape Rooms. While the doors to the three themed escape rooms are never actually locked (it’s against the law), the key to freedom lies in solving puzzles and riddles with team members—in 60 minutes or less.

“We first heard about escape rooms 3½ years ago,” Alex said. “We went to one in Uptown, and we loved it. Both of us had a light go off, and we thought, ‘Wow, people will pay to do this!’ As former church youth directors, Tony and I share a love for setting up games for kids, and connecting with people.”

The brothers originally opened their business in the Shasta Building in 2016. “When that building was sold,” Tony said, “we knew we wanted to stay in the Longfellow neighborhood. We were lucky that Alex happened to find our new location when he was just out driving around.”

Image right: Brothers Alex (left) and Tony (right) Ducklow are co-creators and business partners in Lock and Key Escape Rooms.

So, what happens in an escape room? Alex explained, “Our three rooms are immersive, story driven. It’s like you’re in an adventure movie, and the movie comes to life around you. We like to say though, if this really were a movie, it would only be rated PG. There’s nothing scary or claustrophobic about the experience, and it isn’t frustrating either. The skill level for our rooms is medium because we want people to succeed in solving the mysteries.”

“People usually pick rooms by availability,” Tony said. “They’re all really fun. We recommend that customers be 13 years old at a minimum. The puzzles are designed to keep ten adults busy for an hour or so. We book the rooms on a 90-minute schedule, in case a group runs overtime. The groups that come through here most often are 20-30-year-old friends, families with older kids, and corporate groups.”

A lot of work goes into creating the themed rooms. The brothers plan to change one or more of the themes every couple of years, but probably not before. Their father’s skill as a contractor and builder have come in handy, as has Alex’s experience working in theater set design and construction.

The three room themes at present offer something for everyone. In Professor Jones’ Office, a famous archaeologist has recently gone missing after discovering an important artifact. The challenge is to keep that artifact from falling into the wrong hands.
In the Quest for Excalibur, the famed King Arthur has left the kingdom of Camelot along with all his knights. His sword, embedded in solid stone, must be freed.

In Escape the Locker Room, a sports team has made it all the way to the championship game—but the opposing team has trapped them in their locker room by jamming the door. Will they get out in time to play?

The Lock and Key Escape Rooms are open Thursdays, 5:30-9pm, Fridays 12-10pm, Saturdays 10am-10pm, and Sundays 12:30-8:30pm. Cost is $25 per person; groups of 15 or more receive a 20% discount. Reservations are required and can be made by visiting their website at or by calling 612-643-0539.

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