Let’s talk about something that I am sure many of you do not know about and that’s basic escape room business operations. Now, I am not going to give you the blueprints of how to run a business. That would be boring and, well, boring. Instead, I am going to go through what I find to be common misconceptions about the way escape rooms are run so you have informed expectations when searching for the business you want to go to.* Without further ado, here are the top four misconceptions you probably have about escape rooms.
Misconception 1: Escape rooms always have a person there during their hours of operation so my group can walk in at any time.
It would be great for this to be true, but sadly with most locations, it is not. Most places will describe themselves on their website as “appointment only”. There are some that even specifically state that they do not take walk-ins. You will likely find hours of operation listed in a search but that usually just indicates when someone will answer a phone. These rooms are tailored experiences and need a little time to get prepped. Unless a business is in a heavy traffic area where walk-ins are an accepted part of the business you will need to plan ahead for your group to enjoy one. Some places may accommodate same day bookings but generally speaking, you want to book in advance to ensure the best experience possible for you and your group.
Misconception 2: Since it’s an entertainment facility, it’s fine to bring our own drinks or food or snacks.
Again, would be great if it could be done but you will likely make things more complicated by bringing your own party and assuming there are spaces for you to hang out before or after your game. In truth, there usually are, but those spaces are rented and will require prior approval to make sure to contact the business and arrange for something like that before just showing up with a buffet. While there the employees will cater to any of your needs, but that doesn’t mean they are caterers. Also, I have never seen a room that allows you to have food or drink in the room outside of a bottle of water that must be sealed when not drinking from it.
Misconception 3: Dude! It will be so much fun to get hammered and then go play the room!
Nope. No, it won’t. Drinking socially or at a party is certainly a fun activity and should obviously be done responsibly at all times. These rooms are full of puzzles and challenges and brain games. What is one of the first things impaired by alcohol consumption? Yup…your noodle. These businesses work tirelessly to provide great experiences for you and your group and we sincerely want you to have a great time and be able to create memories with your friends and family you can still talk about a year from now. Being intoxicated makes that very difficult and since some of the things in these rooms are delicate and they can be easily broken by a lack of inhibitions. Truthfully most places have a blurb on the front page of their site specifically stating that you won’t be able to play if you are intoxicated. Have a drink before-hand and relax. Don’t get sloshed and come in to play not being able to speak or spell your own name. I assure you, it’s not fun after a bit for anyone participating. This goes double if you are playing with a mixed group that includes people you don’t know.
Misconception 4: My kids are playing in the room so I can just leave them here and come back in an hour.
Drop the kids at daycare and go to work. Absolutely. Drop the kids off at the babysitter’s and go out for date night. Check. Drop the kids off at the spooky house at the end of the road and trick them into getting out of the car and then drive away? Only if they deserve it. Seriously though, escape rooms are not a daycare. I know it’s a bit of wish fulfillment to have the kids locked away somewhere and know they are having fun, but you need to stick around and not make it just the responsibility of the business to make sure they don’t turn the room into a set for Lord of the Flies. Not that I expect it to get that bad but you get the idea. Realistically, most places have a rule about at least one adult being present at all times. So, make a plan and bring the kiddos in, but just make sure you bring a book or a fully charged phone.
Thank you, valued member of the escape room community, but I would love to have a place I could go to find out all of this information myself.
Well, this is your lucky day! I am not being sarcastic when I say this to you, but have you checked the website? I know it’s easy to find a number and ask questions but these places really do have all of the basic info on their websites. Likely there is an FAQ that can answer many of your preliminary questions. Think of it this way: you are about to sign up to play a game where you have to find and decipher information in the form of clues to put together the answers to puzzles to get out of a timed room. Remove the timing and puzzles and that is essentially what reading info on a website is. Go through and see what’s there. You will learn more than you think.
I hope you find these couple of tidbits helpful. As we continue our journey, I will provide you with more along the way but these are some of the main ones I could think of to start. That’s all I have for you today dear friends. Go be productive members of society and I will return to my activities here which today include manufacturing indoor sunlight to set vampire traps, finding the perfect weight to sit on a suspended toothpick without breaking it and creating the perfect taste combination between peanut butter, apple butter, and regular butter. My assumption is they go together somehow because they are all a form of butter but the balance is…awful. Till next time!
*Note: should you be looking for a place to go in Lemoyne or York, I highly suggest the amazing Escape Games Live for all of your entertainment and puzzling needs. I am not biased because I may or may not work there.
James is a super nerd that has been playing games at a table or on a screen or with the sanity of others since he was about 6 years old. Some time may or may not have passed since then. James has been hosting Escape Rooms for over two years and also manages both locations for Escape Games Live as the GM. He has also played numerous escape rooms and has learned much through personal experience watching and playing rooms. In his time away from work he enjoys life with his wife and daughter as well as volunteering time with The Bodhana Group, which is a local organization that uses tabletop gaming as a form of adjunct therapy for those in need of their services, helping to develop critical thinking, planning and strategy, social skills and building self-esteem and identity by exploring each individual’s “character”. He is a fan of all things nerd which is good because his name would be a waste otherwise.