"In a prison escape room, guy and girl were doing it alone 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.
Another guy had called us way ahead of time and said he's going to propose to his girlfriend 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. 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 pooped herself when she saw the mannequin kidnapper. Straight up pooped herself right there. I let my manager deal with it, I wasn't touching that."
"We did an escape room one time where there were these jars with severed limbs in them. When we got out we commented to the guy running it that we found it interesting that the jars were cement glued shut, cement glued to the shelf, and the shelf screwed to the wall. Seemed like over kill to us. Well apparently the reason they do this was because another group had managed to pried the jars away from the shelf and open the jars. This is about when they realized, watching the cameras, that something was going on. So they rush in to see what's up and he hears, 'Guys! We have to drink the water!!' The nasty part was the water was out of the local river a few blocks away, just to get that dirty murky look."
"I manage an extremely popular room escape business in western Canada. I have a few stories:
1) A grandma with what appeared to be her three grandchildren were playing, and the grandma was getting very aggressive with the kids. The youngest kid ended up standing in the corner saying, 'Well if you're not going to be nice then I'm not gonna play anymore.' The grandma resolved this situation by smacking him upside the head a few times until he cried. It was awkward.
2) We had a group punch a hole through the wall, and drop a bunch of magnets that were needed for a puzzle into the crack in the wall. This happened two hours into a Saturday shift, meaning we had to take apart the whole wall when we only have five minutes between our rooms to fix this monstrosity, and we ended up breaking the bottom of the wall, reaching in with our hands and grabbing them, and then covering up the whole ordeal with a bookshelf.
3) The same group that put a hole in the wall came back and did another room, and they didn't understand anything that was happening. They refused assistance to further themselves along, and spent the last ten minutes of their time making out in the corner. We had to physically intervene when she propped herself up on a counter, and he started taking off his belt, we put that to an end real quick. They might rent the room by the hour but keep your clothes on."
"We have a room themed like a teen girls bedroom in the '80s, it has a phone in it, players can use it. A group of young girls had no idea what it was or how it worked (having grown up with cellphones only), so their gamemaster had to explain it to them. Best part was it was her personal friends and she was super embarrassed for them. 2) Same room, gamemaster saw someone with a lighter on camera, immediately interrupted the room and casually asked why they were using a lighter that they shouldn't have brought in with them. They replied that they were lighting their farts on fire. She suggested that, while hilarious, this might not be the best place for that."
"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. 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 '[Girl's Name], will you go with me to PROM?' And the entire staff loses their collective cool. Weeks of constant pestering, endless phone calls, and the most stressful proposal deal we've ever put together, for a PROMposal. She said no."
"I guess some of the people weren't listening in the beginning and missed that the box by the door was for our coats, purses, etc.
So about 5 minutes into the escape room, someone in our group drags out a purse, dumps it on the floor, and proceeds to go though the wallet. At one point, he says loudly 'Hey, this wallet has a lot of money in it' and we all turned and saw what he was doing, including the owner of the purse. She was horrified."
"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 what not), 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. They didn't really apologize, they were kind of nasty to begin with. They just tried to explain why they did nothing wrong."
"I have quite a few stories. First of all, 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 drunk, but she was plastered. She ended up lying on the floor 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 pissed all on the floor. One guy had dip in his mouth and decided to spit in the corner of the room instead of in his bottle. 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!!' Two guys were doing a room and thought the next step they needed to do 'looked gay' 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. We've also had a lot of marital arguments and tests of friendship that do NOT end well. 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! There was a proposal one time near the end of the room where instead of kissing they shook hands and kept on doing the room. Alternatively, this is one of my favorite stories. If a group doesn't show up 10 minutes before their start time, we call to ask if they're making their way or not. Well, this guy put his home phone number and when we called, his wife answered, but she had no idea what we were talking about. We asked for her name and she wasn't on any booking information, so we assumed it was a wrong number. Well, the husband shows up with A DIFFERENT FAMILY. She seemed to be his girlfriend by the way they flirted in the room, and she also had kids. Then, when they escaped, he refused to have his picture taken. We called that event, 'The Night of Affair Guy.' Another time, it was a new employee's first day and it happened to be a Saturday night. The lady in the room lifted her shirt and flashed the camera for the new guy and the trainer to see. Later she comes out of the room and said, 'Wait, is someone really watching us on the camera?'"
"I've had about 3 people try to change their baby's diaper on one of the tables in our room. Luckily, I would run in there in time to tell them they have to do that outside of the room while receiving death glares in the process. I told one guy he couldn't change his baby in the room, so he did it in our lobby instead, with the bathrooms being maybe 15 feet down the hall.
We had a scanner that scanned a fake hand to open a door, but some guy punched the glass in on the scanner and ripped out all the wiring. Some people do a very poor job at distinguishing what is and is not important to solving the room. We had an event for an AA group, but they were all on ecstasy (I don't understand, either). One guy had no shirt on, only a bow tie. He proceeded to dance on the desk in the room and later passed out on said desk. Each of our rooms has two rooms. We had a group of guys (frat dudes) solve the first room, but they thought that was it. They starting screaming and sprinting out of the door they came in through (which we tell them beforehand is not the door they're trying to escape through). They opened the door to the office where I was watching them, still screaming, said OOPS SORRY through the screaming, and ran into our lobby, still screaming. I had to awkwardly tell them that they weren't done and they ran back to the room, screaming.
My favorite was this group of 3 guys that came in stoned out of their minds. I gave them the rules and stuff and put them in the room and started the timer. The room was FBI-themed so we had a large conference table and 4 desk chairs. They sat at the desk for probably 5 minutes before starting. They only did one thing: they found a barely-hidden key. They didn't solve any actual puzzles. So, at the end, I go in and say 'Uh...times up, guys...' They proceed to tell me that they had so much fun and they can't wait to come back and do our other room. One of the guys even shook my hand. The room took me 30 seconds to reset. They did, indeed, come back and do our other room. They were not stoned, or less stoned, and did much better the 2nd time."
"At Breakout Games I had a couple in a handcuffed and blindfolded room start feeling each other up until I said over the microphone 'Just a reminder that I can see you guys from 4 cameras in the room, if you need any hints let me know!' We also had a customer try to put his finger in an outlet because he thought a key was in it. That isn't his fault because there are rooms that do this, but I was scared half to death. I don't understand why any escape room would put anything important in a place that normally is a hazard. I also had a woman look at books in a different one of our rooms and stop her entire team in order to say 'Guys! All of these books have words AND numbers, it totally means something.' It didn't, just a book. She ended up solving the hardest puzzles in the room, since she was so thorough, but she was really drunk and her tone with the book thing was hilarious."
"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 'commie.' It was weird. For example: 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, commie!' I'm not a communist, and the room isn't communist themed in the slightest."
"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.
And 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.'
Had a girl freak out because of the music and got her out ASAP. Had somebody that tried to destroy the heating and cooling system. He got up on a chair and tried to rip it from the ceiling, I've never been in the room faster.
No matter how many times you say 'The entrance is not the exit,' when people ultimately find the 'escape-key,' they all run to the entrance.
Had a lady who in the beginning asked, 'Can I Snapchat inside the room?' 'No you cannot.' 'But how do people know I'm okay?' Yeah, I didn't even know how to respond, so I didn't.
I also had people that have ripped the wallpaper off the wall and destroyed the floor because they think something is hidden. We tell them there's nothing underneath it, which some people actually think is a hint.
There is a little door and I tell kids all the time 'THERE'S NOTHING BEHIND THAT DOOR.' But every single time, a kid walks up to it and starts opening and closing it before putting their hand inside. This one instance I was so done with it I shook their hand and let go, they freaked out and never touched that door again.
People think they can get out within 10 minutes, a lot of groups think this and then fail super hard at the most simple tasks. On the other hand, some groups are super chill and calm and solve it like nobody's business.
One of the most bizarre things is how we can mess up relaying information, you give the hint '4376' and people manage to say 'HEY WE GOT A CODE, IT'S 7364!!' Not just with numbers, I've had people forgetting to say words in sentences and just completely screw the hint up."
"We did a 'Zombie Escape Room' for my bachelor party (although I'm lame and it was just my family plus my soon to be wife). When we got there, there were two other kids there, early teenagers from the looks of them, a little gawky and weird, but they seemed excited to be there and hey, maybe they'd help out. Then we get to the part where we have to give our names and they have apparently named themselves military ranks. Also, they're saluting. Ok, that's weird. The person who brought them both was their aunt from the sounds of it, and she just sat there on her phone in the waiting room, looking pissed off that this was even happening. Over the course of the introductions, it became increasingly apparent that these kids were severely on the spectrum and probably should not have been doing something like this without a full group of friends and family. Well, they got a family at least. My family.
Anyway, we get in there, and it's pretty neat. There's a Zombie actor on a chain who will try and crawl at people and tag them. Every now and again, a buzzer sounds and she goes back into a room and the chain extends another few feet and she comes back. So you have to have zombie distractors (by singing) and puzzle solvers. Apparently though, our two sidekicks are absolutely terrified of zombies. They shrieked and pushed themselves up against the farthest wall possible. One of them pooped himself at some point. They spent the rest of the match cowering behind my mother who had become their unofficial mom. In the end, I just ended up pissed off at their aunt who just sat on her phone in the waiting room the entire time, letting them be terrified. I can't imagine what would have happened if our family hadn't been there. I like to imagine the proctor would've called it off and refunded them once he saw how utterly incapacitated they were. But they said they had a good time, and other than a few wafts of poo here and there, we did too. At the risk of being a horrible person, the whole thing was really funny in a 'I can't believe these series of events are happening' kind of way. Still furious about their aunt, but it's a story to share at least. It was a terrific evening, full of laughter, and my father's all time best 'dad' moment, when the zombie had my mom cornered and he stepped forwards, thrusting his finger at the actress and yelled 'HEY ZOMBIE, GET AWAY FROM MY WIFE!' Somehow it worked."
"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 things 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 drunk and not caring about the escape room, he leaves the main group and heads back to he 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, taking a piss. 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 up his pee 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."
"Former escape room employee. People are unbelievably destructive. I've seen people rip outlets out of walls (we had to warn them not to stick keys in), dismantle furniture and electronics, pull vent covers off the air ducts, physically bend back file cabinet drawers to get around the lock. They'll write all over all the clues, even deliberately go against the rules you set because they think you were trying to trick them. We had a group reset the password on our computer so we had to wipe it and reinstall everything (lesson learned for the game makers, always have an admin account). A woman decided to throw--literally throw--every non-clue glass object into a trash can, leaving me with 10 minutes to reset the room AND clean up a mountain of broken glass. A favorite was, 'She said not to use the fire extinguisher unless there's a fire, and this says: "Warning, flammable!"' But the weirdest thing is the waves of groupthink. It's noticeable to everyone, my boss even warned me about it my first day. A meaningless picture might be hanging on the wall, completely ignored by every group for months, until suddenly you have a wave of 10 groups in a row who take it off the wall and dismantle it because they've become convinced it means something. They'll drawn new conclusions from a note that have never been drawn before, and the game makers never intended. They'll follow the same, incorrect process for solving a puzzle that we haven't seen before, or make the same arithmetic/decryption errors. They'll MISREAD things the same way, even mishear audio clues the same way (as in, repeat the same nonsense words to describe what they heard). They'll physically destroy the same props, locks, or set pieces game after game. And then it will stop, and no one will do that thing again for months. Maybe it's confirmation bias, maybe it's little factors like how I deliver my speech that day or the weather, I don't know, but it is undeniably weird."
"In our prison-style escape room we have a laser maze that players need to crawl/climb through to deactivate and move forward. Two players are required to finish (or so I thought) the laser maze because there are 3 buttons to be pressed, where the third button is out of reach from the other two. A family came in to play our game with a younger boy, a very fit (relevant) girl in her early twenties, their parents, and their grandfather who had some disability that required him to use those crutches that wrap around your forearms. So they play through and get to the laser maze. The girl got through fairly easily, but they needed to move fast since the timer was running. The young boy had a great idea, 'Here! Use grandpa's crutch!' At which point he takes the crutch straight from grandpa and slides it past all the lasers to his sister at the other end. I was fascinated at this point but even with the crutch it was a long stretch to hit them all. The girl took a second to find the right spot on the floor, planted her foot there, went into a perfect perpendicular stretch with one foot on the ground, one foot on the far button, on hand on the middle button, and finally reaching the last button with the crutch. That family came out of the room so proud and she boasted to the family about her daily yoga, almost convincing me to sign up for yoga because it was so impressive. That was one of the most creative and weirdest successful solutions to a puzzle I've seen in my years working there."
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