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Omaha Magazine

Pat Corbitt Escapes From Reality: Lord of the Manor, Treasure-Hunting Pirate

Sep 16, 2020 03:42PM ● By Jennifer Litton
Pat Corbitt in his school bus

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Between dropping students off and picking them up on his Ralston School bus route, Pat Corbitt, 62, spends his time managing operations for his escape room business, Omaha’s Industrial Escape Rooms. When the pandemic abruptly shut Omaha down in March, his days shifted to the escape room full-time. 

Corbitt helps others escape the day and travel to an alternate world using their imagination and some cleverly built theme rooms. One such room is set in an 1890s London manor house. Another pirate-themed room gives players a chance to steal hidden treasure. 

He says he enjoys giving people something to work with when they visit his entertainment venue. Players are given one hour to search the room for hidden objects, solve puzzles, and unlock the locks to complete the objective and win the game. 

Corbitt, who was raised in Texas, was born on Oct. 3, 1957, the day before Sputnik 1 was launched by the former Soviet Union. He said he likes to think of himself as one of the last pre-space age babies. “I really do enjoy science fiction.” His favorite movie is Close Encounters of the Third Kind

“I have, on occasion, told people that—should the police ever find my car abandoned out in the country and there’s an odd circular patch in the field nearby—tell them I went willingly.” His several years as a manager at Douglas Theatres likely contributed to his fascination with the possibility of extraterrestrial life. 

“I think it would be amazing to actually meet an alien. I like to think that there’s actually people out there. And they’re just too smart to come down and go ‘hello.’ I’m not entirely sure that the human race is ready to be let loose on the universe.” 

Corbitt first came to Omaha by way of Offutt during his 14-year stint with the Air Force. After spending six years in Omaha, he decided that he liked the city. “In spite of the winters and the taxes, I’ve grown to really love the city. It’s just the right size that I like. Dallas is way too big for me.” 

“People would say there is nothing to do in Omaha and they’re idiots,” Corbitt said. “There really is a lot to do.” 

Corbitt likes to think that he is adding more diversity to the entertainment landscape with his newest project, Industrial Escape Rooms. He got the idea after reading about escape rooms in a magazine. 

He thought, “Oh, I can do that.” He attended a trade show and purchased pieces to create Moriarty’s Parlor, a Sherlock Holmes-themed room. The previous owner traveled to Omaha to help him set it up, teach him how the puzzles were done, which furniture to buy, and how to give hints to players when they get stuck. “The way I run games is I tell them when you’re ready for a hint, just give me a big group wave, and I’ll come in and get you back on track.” 

Things really started taking off for him in December 2019. He said that being a homeowner has helped him in his new job as owner of the escape rooms because he works with his hands. He also credits time he spent working at Regal Awards. “I actually learned how to do a type of engraving while I was at the Air Force. So I began engraving with them.” He also built trophies and learned sandblasting. His time at Regal Awards helped him learn how to put things together and build things, which are skills he uses quite a bit now building games. 

He said that the fastest anyone has ever solved a game is about 35 minutes. He said that he’s only had a few groups that fell into the “deadly serious, hate-to-lose category.” “At the end of their game, there were not a lot of smiles.” 

Most patrons find spending an hour at Industrial Escape Room is good, old-fashioned fun. Corbitt said that quite a few people say they like the amount of details in his game rooms. “They like the amount of puzzles and the difficulty of the puzzles.” 

One reviewer on recently said of their time there, “We had a good experience. It’s fun to see how your family operates under pressure and trying to work together.” 

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This article first appeared in the 60 Plus section of the October 2020 issue of Omaha Magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.