Bringing ‘big city fun’ to Hillsboro

Bringing ‘big city fun’ to Hillsboro

Escaping ‘Area 51’ new attraction

By Sarah Allen

A mystery figure awaits anyone who wants to test their skills at the new Area 51 escape room at Speed of Light Laser Tag in Hillsboro.

The clock is ticking. You have been caught trespassing in Area 51. You are locked in a room, and you must find a way out. Could there be a way hidden in the locked desk or cabinets?

It’s going to take a puzzle — in fact, a series of puzzles — to find a way out. And still, the clock is ticking.

It’s easy to forget that, in all actuality, you are still in Hillsboro, in a new escape room attraction at Speed of Light Laser Tag.

“We wanted something unique,” said owner Chris Lengefeld of the story behind the Area 51 escape challenge.

He said escape rooms are “a relatively new thing.” The one at Speed of Light was designed through a consultant with an escape room franchise.

Lengefeld said that escape rooms seem to be popping up mostly in larger cities. So, he said, “We wanted to bring big city fun here without big city costs.”

Lengefeld said that, even though the escape room is only a month old, already 300 to 400 people have tried to work their way out of Hillsboro’s own Area 51.

He said those people have been from local areas, as well as from all over the state, and even Boston.

“Everybody loves it,” he said.

Lengefeld described the puzzle level as difficult, saying that the escape room has a 15-percent escape rate. In comparison, he said most escape rooms have a rate between 25 and 30-percent.

Those who have escaped, he added, usually only have two or three minutes left before their hour-limit runs out.

The first group that managed to escape had to work through the room twice before they managed to evade Area 51’s top secret clutches, Lengefeld said.

Upon success, escapists receive an “I escaped” bumper sticker. Those who don’t quite make it are greeted at the door by Lengefeld and are given an “I almost escaped” bumper sticker.

“It gets stressful,” Lengefeld said, describing how people get excited and try to work faster as the clock ticks down. “They want to complete the game. They want to have bragging rights.”

Lengefeld said that the idea to build an escape room came, in part, because Speed of Light wanted to have something for adults in addition to the laser tag and arcade games they already have for kids.

He added that currently, Speed of Light is offering a deal to all those who match wits with their escape room. Anyone who attempts the puzzle receives one entry in a drawing for a four-night trip to Gatlinburg. Anyone who manages to escape, receives five entries.

The escape room is $22.95 per person. Speed of Light Laser Tag is located at 1260 N. High St. in Hillsboro. For more information, call 937-402-4910 or visit

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