Thursday, September 28, 2023

What’s the deal with escape rooms?

(WYDaily/Courtesy of Room Escape of Williamsburg)
(WYDaily/Courtesy of Room Escape of Williamsburg)

Don’t let the name fool you.

Originating in Japan circa 2007, escape rooms aren’t as confining as their name might at first imply.

Each room is a game. And each game is comprised of “a series of puzzles, riddles, and clues used to solve a [simulated] theme,” explained Jaren Hawkins, manager of Room Escape Williamsburg. “Each game lasts 60 minutes and is played by a team [ranging in size] from two to eight people.”

The goal? To beat the clock.

Also known as “room escapes, escape games, exit games, adventure rooms, or quests,” industry experts from the website Room Escape Artist, note that “whatever you call them, they’re all referencing the same general concept.”

“It’s different. It’s not a theme park, or going to the movies,” Hawkins said. “It’s kind of everything in one: you challenge your brain, spend time with friends, bond, and have fun.”

Despite being a relatively new industry, the number of escape rooms in the U.S. has skyrocketed over the past four years, increasing from only 24 rooms in early 2014 to more than 2,000 at present, according to an industry growth study completed by REA.

But isn’t being locked in a room unsafe?

“We don’t lock you in the room,” Hawkins said. “We can’t legally, because of fire codes.”

REA’s site reiterates that point adding, “theses games are safe. The majority of them aren’t even remotely intimidating [and] there will be an emergency exit.”

Escape rooms are “sort of the cousins of film and theater,” Hawkins added. “It’s set design. There’s a story, different props, and a stage manager who runs everything.”

The manager offers helpful hints when you’re stuck, while also keeping track of the time.

Room Escape Williamsburg is at 1215 Mount Vernon Ave. and is open Wednesday through Monda. It offers different afternoon and evening hours throughout the week. Games cost $27 per person, per hour and appointments are strongly encouraged.

For more information on Room Escape Williamsburg, click here.

For more information on Escape Rooms in the U.S., visit Room Escape Artist.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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