Going Bananas

Wish you could escape the pandemic? There may be a way to do just that, at Driving U Bananaz Escape Room in Bullhead City.
This exciting new attraction offers guests the chance to crack codes and hunt for clues at “Hotel del Rio” leading to the cure for a mysterious virus in a doctor’s notebook.
The sanitized room also literally offers a mental escape from the real world pandemic by providing an hour of safe entertainment with your friends or family. Your group will not be mixed with another, and the room is sanitized after each group.
Juan Lizarraga and Rosa Bedoya decided to open the escape room in Bullhead City after experiencing one on a trip in New York. They loved the challenge and wanted to start something original back home.
They began planning in January 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the business venture for a while as the pair focused on their other businesses. By the end of 2020, the time was right to dive back in to the idea. They didn’t want to use a premade kit, so they created all of the clues and props from scratch.
“I just started putting it together at the end of December,” Lizarraga said. “The ones we did in New York, you can find them anywhere in the world, you can find them in L.A., Chicago, anywhere you go. So if I already played them there and somebody brought it to Bullhead why would I go? So I said, ‘we have to do something original, so it’s not something you’ve ever played before in another city.’ So it’s completely original, it just came out of my mind. I basically created everything and little by little I was buying unique things to go in the room.”
His inspiration for the setting came from the COVID-19 happenings the past year.
“That’s what gave me the idea of the theme, to make it something to do with the coronavirus,” Lizarraga said. “I wanted it to just look like a basic hotel room in Chiapas, Mexico. Once I had it built I sat in there and thought about how I could use everything that’s in there to create the storyline and make it flow.”
Players enter the set up hotel room and flip over the hourglass, which begins their 45-minute frenzy trying to find the doctor’s notebook. There are all kinds of locks and keys to be found, along with a few red herrings to throw you off the scent. Lizarraga watches through the camera as your group searches and if you get stuck he will offer a hint. If you don’t crack all of the codes before time runs out, the Federales will bust you in the room.
It’s a thrilling test of wit for all ages, and can be a great activity for company teambuilders.
“They can see who the leaders are, somebody always takes the lead,” Lizarraga said. “Usually one takes the lead and the rest will follow so you can see who your leaders are. Or if coworkers are not getting along at work and you put them in a situation like that where they have to work together, same for couples, it brings them together, especially if they escape. Then they see that they can work as a team and it builds confidence and unites people.
“Communication is really important in escape rooms. Talking out loud, reading a clue out loud and communicating with your team members makes a big difference.”
It’s a fun way to challenge your brain and get out of the house for an hour.
“Right now is a good time to introduce it I think because it may help with mental health,” Lizarraga said. “Everybody is tired of being locked down and not able to do anything, so come out and have a good time.”
See if you can beat the current escape record of 26 minutes and 18 seconds. The room is open from 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. They also can accommodate other days for special occasions if you make an appointment ahead of time.
There is a minimum of two players and maximum of six. Kids under 12 play free with two paid adults. Book the room online at drivingubananaz.com to reserve your time slot and you will receive a confirmation email. You can then pay for tickets in store, and you will receive the discounted online price of $20 per person. Walk-ins that do not reserve the room online first will pay $25 and the room may not be available at that time.
The escape room is located at 2160 Highway 95, Suite #6 in Bullhead City. Soon Lizarraga will be opening a second room within that location, called the Haunted Sultan’s Treasure Hunt.
“You will have to locate a ring and there will be demons guarding the treasure,” Lizarraga said. “So it goes back to the story of Soloman. Once you find the ring, you can get out with the treasure.”
Stay tuned to the Driving U Bananaz Facebook page for updates or call 928-201-7416 for more information.