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Meet Mike Gerbrandt of Surreal Escape Games in Santa Anita

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Gerbrandt.

Mike, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Mike has always been an eccentric visionary – as most artists are. In 2013, he happened upon a documentary called “The Institute” (which you’ll find on Netflix) about a citywide alternate reality experience that was organized in San Francisco between 2008 and 2011. Intrigued and amazed, his wheels started turning toward the surreal. The following year talks began with his friend and Pastor Craig Lawrence about starting up an escape room business in the Inland Empire (“Mysterium” which is still in utero). Later, he would write 3 captivating experiences for Mysterium but still envisioned a game with no walls that used the environment as its playground – a bit like the recent “Geocaching” trend but much more interesting and brainteasing. So, in January 2016 he got to work on designing and building the infrastructure for Surreal Escape Games. “While you’re not escaping from any room, it certainly is ‘escapism.’ Mike elaborates, “So many people are simply bored even while being inundated with the usual busyness of life which sadly includes staring at screens most of their day. Surreal provides a unique social outlet for us to just play and unleash our God-given craving to explore and wonder

Has it been a smooth road?
Pretty smooth! People are very pleased with what we produce. If anything our main struggle has been deciding what methods of marketing to invest in. After much trial and error, Facebook ads has proven to be the most effective for us as opposed to Google ad words which was a total bust.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We’re in the business of blowing minds. We create unique and exciting games for all ages. The possibilities are virtually limitless when you decide to make the Surreal, real! So much of life can be very predictable and routine so we’ve decided to step in by blurring the lines of reality, even if just for two or three hours.

What sets Surreal apart is the fact that we’re not bound by four walls and our games are fully customizable! We bring our games anywhere, anytime. In addition, players are not only allowed but encouraged to use their phones for Google, flashlight, etc. whereas you must lock up your phone before entering conventional escape rooms.

Our proudest moment thus far was holding a game for the LAPD at Wattle’s Mansion in Hollywood. We created an elaborate caper that left even the best of them delightfully disoriented yet satisfied.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
With over 10 million people in LA County alone, entrepreneurs are on the right track to be starting up here. Though the competition is steadily rising in a city with so much entertainment influence, so my main piece of advice to those considering jumping into this business would be to focus on the quality first. How will the experience (plot, puzzles, clues and twists) leave people amazed and wanting more?

Pricing:

  • Our “Run Amok” game at Santa Anita mall runs $24.50 per player
  • Our “Surreal to you” games average at $28 per person
  • Group discounts are always available

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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