“One couple couldn’t agree on how to solve the puzzles and broke up inside the room.
Another couple had the guy surprise the girl with a proposal.
Another couple got a horror-themed escape room and just sat on the floor and cuddled. They didn’t look scared. They didn’t bother to solve anything either. They just cuddled with all the creepy props and sound effects surrounding them. I guess they couldn’t find a creepy motel to cuddle in…?”
“So I work at an Escape Room and here are just a few of the WAY TOO MANY things I’ve seen.
In one of our rooms, you unlock a chest that has 4 water bottles. You have to pour them into a big fish bowl (with a thin neck) so you can reach your hand in and pull a bottle out. On them it specifically says DO NOT DRINK. Guy thought it was commanding him to drink them and without hesitation straight up started drinking one. Dude, it’s literally ocean water because the room is pirate themed In a prison escape room guy and girl were doing it alone and looking for a way ‘too real’ experience and argued over who should be able to put on the handcuffs for the whole game, wasted 10 minutes doing that, handcuffs get jammed and stuck on the girl, had to call the fire department to get them off.
The guy had called us way ahead of time and said he’s going to propose to his GF in the room. We help him set up a custom box in the room and alter a puzzle.
He proposes early on in the room, she says no straight up, THEN THEY AWKWARDLY FINISH THE ROOM. Meanwhile, when they got out I had to go up and weirdly congratulate them on getting out and guide them back out through the door. Worst 10 minutes of my life…
Another room is a ransom type room where your child has been kidnapped. When the people (all 30’s and 40’s) popped open the secret room where the kidnapper was hiding, a lady literally took a number two on herself when she saw the mannequin kidnapper.
Straight up right there. I let my manager deal with it, I’m no number two toucher…”
“Escape Room Employee here: I’ve had about 150 groups in my room and the weirdest are the ones where people solve the main puzzle and just don’t leave the room. They have found the key or device they need to leave and just wander around clueless. Oh Jesus, how can I forget this one: a little 12-year-old kid came up to me before the room and asked: ‘Are you in the room with us?’ I replied: ‘No but I’ll be in the control room’ To which he replied: ‘Okay, good, so we can torture you when you don’t give us any good hints” When they were in the room he proceeded to say: ‘Give us some good hints you rotten child.’
Another one: Some guy was convinced something was hidden under a chair that was screwed to the floor, he started kicking it.
Had to stop the game and go into the room to tell him he should stop doing that.
One time a guy brought his own flashlight, had to tell him that is against the rules of the game. One time a guy ripped the green laser out of it’s very secured spot in the room, had to stop the game and tell him to put it back. Had a girl freak out because of the music and got her out ASAP.
You really get a taste of all layers of society inside these rooms.”
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“The craziest thing that happened though was how we solved it. We were supposed to get the word Waterloo from a series of clues and use a dictionary to find that the battle of Waterloo was in 1815. Use that 4 digit number to get a key that let us out of the room. Well we got the word ‘eaterloi’ instead of Waterloo. We assumed that it was an anagram and we used a word scrambler to get the word aerolite from it. Using the dictionary we found that aerolite was invented in 1815.
Well we got the key and we confidently told the employee how we figured it out.
He was dumbfounded. I’m not exactly sure what the odds of solving the room like this is, but if someone could solve that for us that’d be dank. My friends and I have been trying to figure it out since it happened.”
“The most depressing thing I saw was a tired looking couple who brought in their bespectacled, NASA shirt wearing, 8-year-old geek of a son in to have some fun. The parents couldn’t have been more discouraging to him.
He was excitedly bouncing around the room pointing out things that he thought were clues, while the parents dismissed every idea he had and told him to stop getting so excited. The parents took charge and proceeded to ignore the obvious clues he was pointing out and spent most of the time pursuing dead ends.
The sad part is his instincts were more often than not correct but his parents just didn’t listen and refused to let him explore and try stuff out.
Hopefully his curiosity and enthusiasm, survives them.”
“Like most rooms, we have cameras all throughout the game so we can keep any eye on players, give hints based on what puzzle they’re on, and watch out for any shenanigans.
So ours is a prison themed escape, at one point there are 3 cells that need to be opened in order (one of them has a live actor in it that messes with you the entire time, even after you rescue him).
Anyway, each cell is pretty much the same, with a toilet, shelf, and a few other items. One guy was pretty drunk and repeatedly put bones and other stuff in his pants to get a laugh out of his teammates, but they stopped paying attention to him while trying to actually make their escape.
He must’ve gotten bored being so out of it and not caring about the escape room, he leaves the main group and heads back to the prison cell area.
I’m watching on the cameras and see he’s not with the rest of the group, so I start clicking around trying to find him. Sure enough, he’s in a jail cell hovering over a toilet, relieving himself. There’s no plumbing, they’re definitely just props. We shut their game down on the spot; his group was not happy with him at all.
After they left I had the pleasure of soaking it up with a mop little by little, and it was after that night we added the ‘anyone visibly intoxicated will not be allowed to participate’ rule.”
“I have quite a bit of stories.
1) What drives a group of people to get highly intoxicated and go do something that involves using your brain? I have no idea, but it happens a lot. It was a girl’s 21st birthday and everyone was out of it, but she was worse off. She ended up lying on the floor and not moving, and we didn’t know if she was okay, so we send someone in to check on her and she said she was just resting and laughed it off. Later, the same girl laughed so hard that she fell down and peed all on the floor.
2) One guy had stuff in his mouth and decided to spit in the corner of the room instead of in his bottle.
3) One lady completely threw up in a room and they all just kept laughing. When asked if she was okay by my coworker, she responded with, ‘oh, I just throw up when I get really excited!’
4) Two guys were doing a room and thought the next step they needed to do ‘looked bad’ so they ended up sitting down on the floor and staring around (since you aren’t allowed to have your phone) for the last 30 minutes of the room.
I can’t give away too much because of my employee agreement, but it had to do with blowing on something in the room. I think it was more funny because of the fact that they wouldn’t do it because of their pride, rather than it actually looked bad.
5) We’ve also had a lot of marital arguments and tests of friendship that do NOT end well.
Side note: whatever you do, NEVER do an escape room for a first date. You’ll more than likely have a group of strangers with you and it’s also just super awkward all around.
On a brighter note, we’ve had some proposals in our escape rooms!”
“We have a game that has wooden floors and guests regularly try to pull up the nailed down floorboards with a hammer that’s in the room, thinking they’ll find clues.
Also one time I asked the group if they had ever played an escape game before, and an elderly gentleman responded ‘one time my wife tied me up and gagged me. Does that count?’ His friends thought it was hilarious, but the high school couple that was obviously on a first date they were paired up with did not find it as funny.
Sometimes halfway through a game, someone that wasn’t paying attention will walk up to the entrance, realize its unlocked, and tell the rest of the group they solved it.
Then groupthink sets in and everyone just stands in the hallway as their time runs out.”
I worked at a room escape place for a year in grad school. I learned very quickly to give thorough warnings at the start of each show that breaking things, assaulting actors (this was trapped in a room with a zombie), and sexual harassment were all not cool. (Yes, literally had guys hit on THE FREAKING ZOMBIE mid-show).
Perhaps the most interesting phenomenon I noticed was just how much personality factors into the teamwork involved. I’ve seen a lot of shy people or people otherwise lacking in confidence be completely on the right track, only to be steamrolled by the loudest, more confident, strongest personalities in the room.
Maybe it shouldn’t have come as so much of a surprise, but I watched perfectly smart, reasonable people actively ignore good points, logic, and strong evidence in service of a cult of personality of charismatic players. The whole thing felt like a depressing study on group dynamics.
“Did a space station themed room. We got paired with a mother and her adult sons. The sons did just fine but mom was clueless.
There was a prop fire extinguisher on the wall that she was CERTAIN had to be for something.
For an hour she wandered around aimlessly carrying a fire extinguisher.”
“Former escape room employee here. I worked the room that was based on an old western bank heist. The room was separated into two sections like a normal bank is, the customer area (where you normally go when you enter the bank) & the banker area (where you go when you are a bank employee).
Well…. the two areas are separated by a wall type fence thus resulting in about a foot of empty space between the end of the fence and the ceiling. You can probably tell where this is going. This group was stumped on how to solve the code on the door leading into the banker area so one goes, ‘Can’t we just climb the wall?’
I immediately sprung into action and frantically ding them over and over (There is a TV where you receive clues and when you hear the ding that means there is a new clue)… unfortunately this was a group of two different bookings so one group read the message but was too timid or didn’t care to relay the ‘DO NOT CLIMB’ message I was spamming them with. In about a second a man climbed the wall and got into the second part. I ended up having to open the door, go in and let him out.
I think they all saw I was steaming because they apologized after.
I told them I am just glad no one got hurt because that could have been really bad.
Also when a group of 10-year-olds left me this gem (Actual photo pictured above).”
“For some reason, people like to put the flashlight that one of our rooms has in their mouth when they know they aren’t the only ones who have used them. Some people put them between their legs, in the crack of their ass as a joke, and not to mention just roll around the ground a majority of the time.
Besides that, I’ve seen relationships almost fall apart.
One couple insisted on going into our most challenging room just the two of them, and we let them know this was probably not going to be a good idea or enjoyable for them, but they didn’t really care.
You could tell the guy wanted to impress the girl, but both of them were dumber than rocks. I had to sit for an entire hour watching them get literally nowhere through the first puzzle arguing with each other and then sitting in moments of awkward silence. I offered to give them help and said I would just tell them if they wanted at this point, but they refused.
Also, people love to not listen to our disclosure we have to give before we send groups into rooms and kick in our air vents and break through our drywall and ceilings when we specifically say not to and put tape that says NOT A PART OF THE GAME in bright yellow colors.”
“We give people a box for them to bring in, so they can store their belongings while they play.
One time, about halfway in, an inquisitive older man started going through their own stuff. He pulled out a purse and shouts guys ‘guys, I found some… this is our stuff isn’t it?!’
It was hilarious.”
“I own an escape room and I once guided couple into one of our more moody ambiance room and they told me, ‘We would totally base a sex dungeon off this vibe. See, you even have a desk in here to get started!’
Also, you see people’s true parenting skills.
My favorite quote is from a lovely family that went into a room and 5 minutes in the father gathered his overeager children and told them ‘You’re all being jerks.’ We’re in a huge tech area and we get a lot of corporate groups with some very odd people.
A week ago we had a Fortune 500 CEO through and he walked up to my staff and started bragging about his 50,000 Instagram followers, basically trying to impress college kids. We definitely giggled about that one especially when we looked him up and he had like 300 followers.
But hey, he killed it in the room!”
Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock
Escape room employee here.
In one of our rooms, we have an actor pose as a spy, and the people in the room had to solve a case to figure out who the traitor was.
After they finished the puzzles, it turns out the traitor was actually the spy the actor was playing. The spy then pulls an obviously prop gun (orange tip and whatnot), and the group has to diffuse a fake bomb.
One of the groups that did this room was a police squad that was doing this to bond. When the actor pulled the fake gun and said some cheesy lines, the actor was promptly tackled and restrained until the cops realized it was all a game.
“We use to have a giant banana as a mascot and once we had a group of kids that were intoxicated and one of the guys in the room started crying so we decided to let him hold it.
So the guy cuddled with it on the ground and fell asleep about 10 minutes into the game. Had the time of his life!”
“The weirdest thing I saw was a young couple, in our hardest room (they asked for our hardest), who when they couldn’t solve our puzzles took off their shoes and just sat down and talked.
When I would send them hints (to get them to start playing again), the lady would call me a jerk. It was weird.
The lady would pick up a red clue paper that goes with a pyramid puzzle. They would stare at it, then put it to the side. I type in a hint ‘the red papers go with the pyramid!’ She looks up the screen, ‘We were getting to that, jerk!’
A customer opened a cryptex at the beginning of the game, figured out how the mechanism was set, the reset it to a secret word and closed it. He guessed the word he reset, it was the word he reset. Case closed.
“Pair of drunken female twenty-somethings were dragged along to a group event, proceeded to demand DJ services and cartwheel in skirts before collapsing to the ground and laying out. Odd time.
A room of ours has a one-hitter as past of our props, a lady attempted to steal it by slowly moving it out of sight as conspicuously as possible. We insinuated that their next clue was inside the bowl, and she left out of embarrassment after she surrendered it to her group.
Those are the oddest, but the job is full of odd behavior, strange social situations, and bizarre experiences.”
So we do proposals. Ring in the final puzzle box, proposal signs, whole package deal, people love it. Dude calls up to set up a proposal, I ask what room he wants etcetera. So then I tell him the total price to book out the entire room for the proposal. He says he just wants to buy the two tickets for him and his girlfriend, I tell him we can’t have strangers playing a game that their experience is impacted/altered by the fact that there’s a proposal going on. Proposal happens in an Escape Room, there’s no longer a game, it becomes about the proposal.
I know this because I’ve seen it happen a hundred times.
Anyway, dude refuses to buy out all of the tickets. Says he wants strangers to be there, he’s not going to buy the other four tickets. I hand the phone to my manager, they hash out details together.
Over the next three weeks leading up to the proposal, this guy calls Every. Single. Freaking. Day. There’s nothing else to figure out, we’ve got it all set up, but this guy is constantly badgering us.
The big day rolls around, he arrives early so he can hide out, and this dude is a kid.
Like, pimple-faced, voice-cracking, hair-growing-in-weird-places kind of kid. Everybody in the control room is talking about him, because he’s been a thorn in our collective sides for weeks, and we’re speculating about telling him marriage at his age is a horrible idea, but whatever it’s too late.
So he hides, the girl and her friends show up, they get started and we stash the dude in the second hidden room that they’ll eventually end up in. Everybody crowds around the monitor to watch and this guy pulls out a bouquet of flowers and unfurls a sign that says “NAME REDACTED, will you go with me to PROM?
And the entire staff loses their collective thoughts and emotions. Weeks of constant pestering, endless phone calls, and the most stressful proposal deal we’ve ever put together. For a freaking PROMposal.
She said no.