5Wits Transworld Seminar 2017


Live Slack chat by James

Construction tip #1: separate phases. get concept 80% before you start to design. get design 98% before you start to build.

Design feature you are thinking ‘i’ll figure it out later’ is A: the hard one and B: the one that will bite you

Tip #2 Prototype and Test

Prototype - start with a sketch model. PVC and cardboard and hot glue.

Then mockup with 3d printing / laser cut acrylic, plywood

Then your final - in the case of a safe, plate steel

editor’s note: we stop at #2 as far as materials, but 5 Wits runs hundreds of people through each game every day. builds for durability

but point is the steps are the same

Don’t let anything break the illusion. No visible screws. Avoid painted walls. Proper wire management (can you see speaker wire?)

Give players what they can’t get at home.

They can play video games. They can play paper puzzles.

Screens and paper at home.

Re: 5 Wits. There’s nuance that’s missing in my notes. Matt talked about how there’s a big difference in expectation from a small town and downtown in a big city. Between a small game and a huge buildout. There were some slides to that effect that I didn’t capture on my camera

Consider alternatives to drywall (corners don’t hold up)

Don’t buy the cheapest

Corner guards, round-over bits for every edge

Finishes stay better on rounded corners esp with people bumping stuff around all the time

Overbuild everything

Think like a 12 year old boy

Assume guests have sharpies and knives in their pockets and are one step short of wanting to break your stuff

Next tip - have a reasonable budget

Disney is $250/$350 per square foot range

10,000 SF 5 Wits store is 2.5 - 3 million USD

You probably can’t create something for 10k that people are going to be wowed by but it’s a start

a 50k room is not going to get you a million dollar return in one year. be realistic

Now talking about room in Boston that was open 6 months and was shutdown randomly by building inspector

Being ignorant will cost you

Cost much more to rebuild than if they had done it right the first time

Said this happened recently. Ed’s note: Maybe magician’s study?

Call inspector early to talk about biz concept.

Set up a meeting and bring photos/drawings to explain the escape room concept.

Bring images that instill confidence in your abilities.

If you have previous projects or similar business. Bring brochures. Portfolio.

Bring a floorplan and certificates of fire retardancy

Stack of paper “this is what my walls are made of” etc. The fire chief will relax.

Write a life safety narrative - couple pages saying what you’re doing. fire certs. egress. sprinklers. walk through of everything safety related

Fire chief is the boss. Interpretation varies. He wins.

Fire chief needs to know you are diligent, knowledgeable (can you cite code sections to him?), professional (this isn’t just a hobby), honest, and planning ahead

no surprises!

Show you care about safety first.

NFPA1 Section 20.1.4 “Special Amusement Buildings” section is the most important code for your attraction. Applies to haunts too. Most now classify escape rooms as this.

Sprinklers required

treated as Assembly Occupancy

Smoke detectors tied into alarm system

Sprinklers/smokes go off it must trigger alarm, bring up lights, and mute audio

Exit marking and floor proximity exit signs for confusing or maze like layouts

Emergency action plans required

Fire retardant surfaces

Officials care most about sprinklers, egress, fire retardant finishes, lighting, and show control integration

Sprinklers. Got to have them. Spacing and clearance is important. If you are putting up walls you need your architect or sprinkler installers to determine location.

Need extra sprinklers under some obstructions

For example in a tunnel or smaller height room with a ceiling

Don’t paint them duh

But your painters might by accident

Cover them with foil before your painters arrive since they often miss them. expensive to fix

Some sprinklers don’t look like sprinklers. But in a game people think they are hidden compartments and trigger the heads. $30,000 of damage at their West Nyack location

And if the system is old first 30 seconds of spray is sludge from the pipes. It will ruin everything in your attraction

So go with a classic looking sprinkler so people leave it alone

Need multiple points of egress. Sometimes 3 or 4 for size/occupancy. DON’T LOCK YOUR DOORS DUH

Even a big red emergency unlock button is risky.

What if power goes out. Well you have battery backup. What if smoke conceals it or patrons are panicking?

No obstructions. Consider door swings, props, storage

Fire retardants - foams are big issue. Intumescent paint, additives.

Use Class 1 fire retardant finishes.

Roscoe PA additive

Have materials to let fire chief do burn tests. Do your own

Create burn sample. Use a blow torch for 10 seconds. Take flame away - it must self extinguish in 3 seconds.

If it keeps going then it’s not going to pass.

Steel studs vs wood studs

Document everything. Consider taking photos of you putting additive in paint and the paint on the walls.

Curtains & Fabric. FR treated, Natural fiber treatment additives, or inherently fire retardant materials

Roscoe Flamex NF Natural Fiber

Rosebrand is another brand from theatrical suppliers. They will create/treat fabrics and sew in fire retardant labels.

Space heater for jungle themes… is everything fire retardant? Are there obstructions for air flow / flammable things near it?

Lighting. Exit signs - may need floor proximity exit signs. Egress path lighting. Battery backup emergency lighting.

Work with local authorities for your attraction. May be able to paint. There are ways to hide signs. Like through 1 way glass so lights on can’t see, lights off, can see

Shw control integration. Termination of other confusing visuals or sounds” = stop the show. mute the audio. doors open/unlock

Based off fire alarm relay

Electical now. Have diagrams for your team AND fire marshall

Minimize extension cord use

Usually ok to do low voltage yourself. Some municipalities require permit but will often still let you do it yourself.

Plenum rated wire (CL2, CL3, etc)

Atmospheric eects. Fog and haze usually ok if you have egress visibility. May require separate permit.

Smoke alarm placement - fog machines will often set off alarms

He aware of HVAC design. Fog machine may get distributed through building

Fog can bother some people (respiratory)

Flame effects - generally nope

Find location. Draw 1st draft floor plan yourself on the computer.

Have preliminary conversation with officials and contingent lease

Hire architect

Licensed architect. Shop around. Can be $8k or $70k just for drawings

Hire engineers if construction requires it. HVAC, structure, sprinkler, hydraulic, calc, etc

Hire GC

Submit for permit

Bid it. Build it.

Re: 5 Wits. There’s nuance that’s missing in my notes. Matt talked about how there’s a big difference in expectation from a small town and downtown in a big city. Between a small game and a huge buildout. There were some slides to that effect that I didn’t capture on my camera