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Backstory: Eight awesome experiences unique to Atlanta

Written By | Mar 8, 2016

ATLANTA, March 7, 2016 — Dmitry Mikhaylov’s chance encounter with an “escape the room” attraction in New York City sparked an idea. The happy result? The Atlanta resident decided to create his own “escape the room” experience in the heart of Atlanta.

Paranoia Quest: Escape the Room opened at 72 Broad St. SW near the Five Points MARTA station in Downtown Atlanta in May 2015. Since then, it has quickly become one of the area’s hottest attractions, visited by more than 10,000 people during its first six months.

As part of a “quest,” groups of two to 12 people are “locked” in a room filled with movie-quality props. A game master provides guests with a set of clues, and participants have an hour to work together to solve the mission… if they are to escape from the room.

“More than anything, the experience of opening Paranoia Quest: Escape the Room has been fun,” said Mikhaylov, who moved to the United States from Russia a dozen years ago. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great people, and I am looking forward to welcoming many more.”

In February, Bisnow named Paranoia Quest one of eight “awesome experiences unique to Atlanta.” Here is what Mikhaylov had to say about his approach to creating a memorable experience:

What is Paranoia Quest: Escape the Room?

Paranoia Quest is a live room escape adventure. It’s a labyrinth of clues and puzzles you need to solve in order to complete your mission. More than anything, it’s aimed at bringing out your inner detective.

How did you get the idea for Paranoia Quest?

I was in New York for a conference, and I went to an escape-the-room attraction between sessions. It was a lot of fun, and I thought to myself, “I want to do something similar.” I tried to contact the New York branch owners about a franchise, but they never returned my call. So, I immediately started thinking about what I would do and what scenarios I would create. A couple of weeks later, I registered Paranoia Quest as a new company.

What quests do you currently offer?

We have three quests. In “Zombie Apocalypse,” guests are survivors of a zombie apocalypse who assemble as a special force team in order to try to finds a cure and save the rest of the world. In another quest, “Murder Mystery,” guests are invited to try new state-of-the-art technology in which they enter a murder victim’s final memory in order to find the killer. Our newest quest is “Infection.” In this quest, visitors enter a mysterious government facility in the hopes of uncovering a tightly-held secret.

How many people successfully complete a quest?

Roughly one in four successfully solve a scenario. Many come close, but fall short of success after an hour. However, despite the low success rate, visitors tend to have a great time.

What goes into creating a quest?

It is an in-depth process, but the investment pays off in the realism of the scenarios. We put a lot of effort into developing the backstories for each quest to make them as realistic as possible and one that translates into a truly immersive experience unlike anything else in the city.

What is it like to go through a quest? Is it scary?

The quest is designed to be challenging. The fun of the experience is in the challenge. You don’t need any special math or physics skills; anyone who is at least 10 years old can participate. Going through a quest requires a mixture of critical thinking, teamwork, grit and determination. We don’t intend for the quest to be a scary experience. However, with “Zombie Apocalypse,” guests have the option to include real zombies in the quest.

How is Paranoia Quest different from other “escape the room” experiences?

The realism of the scenarios is what distinguishes us. We invest double or triple what other companies invest in room design and production. Guests are immersed in a room with incredibly realistic props, custom sounds and an atmosphere that bring the scenario to life. We want people to get lost in just how real the adventure is — from the moment they enter the room to the moment they escape.

Who are your visitors, and what do you hope people take away from a visit?

It may be surprising to some, but our median age range is 26 to 45 years old. We see a lot of college students and families from across Metro Atlanta along with tourists who are in Atlanta to visit the Georgia Aquarium and other popular attractions. We have also been a popular destination for some major corporations’ team-building outings. We want people to have a one-of-a-kind experience that they’ll tell their friends about.

What’s next for Paranoia Quest?

We are happy to see great feedback from the people who visited us and we want to continue to provide a quality experience that is unique to Atlanta. Based on our success over the past year, we are looking to open a second location in the Atlanta area later this year. We are looking for franchisees and investors who may be interested in investing in this new and very promising industry.

For more information or to book a quest, visit

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo is an award-winning writer and marketer. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell.