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Escape rooms, scavenger hunts are popular group experiences on Long Island

Jumping jacks are part of the preparation for

Jumping jacks are part of the preparation for horror-themed escape rooms. Credit: Johnny Milano

Group experiences are where it’s at these days. Whether it be a scavenger hunt, escape room or immersive theater, people are looking for an alternative to bowling, going to the movies and hanging out at a bar.

“It’s fun to do something together as a group that you can share and talk about on the way home,” says Will Puntarich, marketing director for NYZ Apocalypse, a “survival” experience in Deer Park. “It’s bonding.”

Alissa Torres, manager of Can You Escape? LI, an escape room in Mineola, agrees, “When you do this type of activity, you have to use your mind and collectively communicate with others instead of technology. When parents participate with their kids, they will often say, ‘I’ve never seen my child off their phone for a whole hour.’ ”

Here are two hands-on experiences to tackle with your friends and family this weekend:


PLAYERS Groups of five (smaller groups will be put together)

THE RUNDOWN This horror attraction is a blend of immersive theater, a haunted house, an escape room and an obstacle course. The fictional setting is the year 2049 after the United States has collapsed, global government has implemented world marshal law and the population has exploded.

“To reduce the population of the planet, the government merged news with entertainment media and took game shows to the next level,” says Puntarich. “People who participate in game shows, which is mandatory, of course, help reduce the population. When they lose, they don’t make it out.”

WHAT TO EXPECT Think “Fear Factor” kind of stuff — crawling, aerobics, mysterious food substances in your mouth and electric shocks. But remember, it’s not real.

“It’s all simulated, it’s all an act,” promises Puntarich. “No one will get sick, hurt or die.”

Wear unimportant clothes as participants might get wet or dirty. Must be at least 18 and have no health issues.

TIME FRAME 60-90 minutes

PRIZE Two tickets to NYZ Apocalypse’s new Halloween attraction, “Total Fear,” in October will be awarded to the winner in the group of five.

WHEN | WHERE 7-10 p.m. Friday, June 16, NYZ Apocalypse, 450 Commack Rd., Deer Park

INFO 631-392-4700,

ADMISSION $45 per person, $100 for a party of five (limited)


PLAYERS Up to five people

THE RUNDOWN The outdoor activity spans about 15 blocks and involves seven steps of pure family-friendly adventure. There’s no storyline theme. “This is a scavenger hunt and escape room all rolled into one,” says Torres. “You will be going from place to place like a scavenger hunt, but you will have to solve puzzles like in an escape room to get the combination to open the next lock in order to figure out your next destination.”

WHAT TO EXPECT Specific tasks can’t be revealed because they will be buried in sealed envelopes that need to be opened. “Some will involve observation — where you can look at something and figure out the code. Other stuff will be more tactile where they have to manipulate stuff to figure out the code,” says Torres. “Listening skills are needed, plus there will be symbols that must be translated into numbers.”

Little surprises pop up along the way, like raffle tickets for an ice cream cone redeemable at a nearby store. If you get lost or need a clue, hints can be received via text. Additionally, a bag of tools is distributed at the start.

TIME FRAME At least 60 minutes

PRIZE Tickets for a future surprise activity for each group that finishes

WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m. Saturday, June 17, secret location in Long Beach (registered participants are sent the location)

INFO 516-246-9939,

ADMISSION $150 per team

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