Located in the heart of Malden, Massachusetts town square, a little slice of history had thrived for over 90 years. The Sparks building was once home to a department store affectionately remembered by so many in the Malden community. In this same location, something new and exciting is being built from the inside out that aims to make history of its own.
Enter Boda Borg Boston, an ambitious 30,000 square foot multi-level complex designed for ‘questing’ – essentially a live-action roleplay experience brought to reality through a series of challenges, both physical and mental. Brookline entrepreneur and Harvard Business School alumni Chad Ellis first encountered Boda Borg in Sweden and was sold on the idea – so much so, he decided to open the first one in the United States; after spending some time in the work-in-progress full-immersion entertainment complex and speaking with Ellis, it’s easy to understand why.
“It’s actual smart fun. It’s healthy, it’s good for you, it’s interesting, it’s different, it’s physical, it’s multi-generational,” Ellis explained with enthusiasm.
Boda Borg appeals to a variety of age-groups (from about eight years old and up), social statuses, and levels of physical fitness. A day of questing could be great fun for a family, or a unique team-building exercise for a group of young executives.
For $18 per person, a team of three to five people can spend two hours in a series of rooms with themed challenges ranging from moderate to extreme difficulty they’ll have to overcome to progress through the course. Challenges can be physical or mental, or a mix of both. Physical elements range from crawling to climbing and more, while the mental end of it has you searching for clues and solving puzzles along the way, similar to how you would in a video game. The costs are comparable to heading to your local cinema, but what you get out of the experience is infinitely more valuable.
Boda Borg isn’t just a one-and-done experience. While you can get through many of the quests in your two-hour admission, you may not actually complete all of them. Ellis claims that it’ll take 6 or 7 visits to complete them all, and has plans to alter some of the quests annually. From there, after you’ve completed all quests, participants can continue to challenge themselves by attempting to best their own times. Day passes are $28 and the facility offers an all-you-can-eat taco bar, so if you’re not satisfied with your performance, you can continue to tackle quest after quest with taco-fueled fervor.
Although many of the quests weren’t fully built yet, you could feel the energy in every room. Even the construction staff were equally enthusiastic as Ellis, with a handful of them having traveled to Sweden to learn how to build quests straight from the source. That type of dedication to the end-product has earned the support of Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, who believes in Ellis’ vision and — due to Boda Borg’s close proximity to Boston and more specifically, the MBTA — ability to attract people in droves, which will have a positive effect on other businesses in Malden’s vibrant square.
“It is always a good thing when one venture can bring 100-200,000 people to a downtown area. The economic spinoff of having that many visitors means more exposure for every other business in the path of their travel. From the amazingly diverse restaurant scene, to the stores, to the garages, even to the MBTA, this is an infusion of new dollars and new potential customers,” said Christenson, continuing “This also gives us a chance to offer our residents a great and unique entertainment option.“
While Boda Borg uniqueness will certainly help it carve out a legacy in the center of Malden, Ellis plans a heartwarming throwback to the iconic signage on the Sparks building it occupies, using the lettering in the signage of some of the quests.
Boda Borg Boston is in the final stages of construction, aiming to open in mid-September. Mark your calendars and pre-set your GPS for Pleasant St. Malden, MA. Boda Borg is an experience you definitely don’t want to miss.