Escape rooms are all the rage lately, and it is not difficult to grasp why. How exciting is it to be locked in a room with only so much time to figure out how to get out, all the while your adrenaline is pumping as you are forced to cooperate with people who already drive you nuts as it is? Many find success, others fail. But some have come up with ways to get out that no one could have expected.
Escape room employees and guests alike took to Reddit to share the time someone tried to be loose with the rules. The stories they inspired, edited here for clarity, provide a fun and strange escape for the reader.
"There was an escape room themed after a school with a madman's lab in it. There was a part where you had to match numbers with the Morse code's letter number in the alphabet. There was, of course, a dictionary of the Morse code, but a group which finished that part in 15 seconds without using the dictionary. Usually, people need at least three minutes for it. And then, after that you had to pump a pump to raise a ball with a key out of a 1.2 meter tube.
But, instead of simply pumping the thing, a guy took out an extendable stick and silver duct tape, then pulled the ball out of there. They finished the whole room in 30 minutes. My question is why did he have an extendable stick with silver duct tape in his coat's inner pocket? I never got a chance to ask them."
"I was a player in a room where Sherlock Holmes had been kidnapped by Jack the Ripper and we had to interpret the clues he left about where he’d been taken (spoiler: we didn’t do it in time and he's dead now).
One clue was a chessboard in 'check' position. A paper note on the board said 'Watson: check' to inform us it was our turn. Moving the King to the only legal spot triggered a magnetic switch inside the table which unlocked a drawer holding the next clue.
I figured this out only after we moved all the pieces around the board randomly trying to make something happen, ruining our chances of finding the right setup. My teammate unplugged the chess table to disengage the electromagnet holding the drawer closed and we got our clue."
"I did a room with two friends in which we got randomly placed with a family with three kids under the age of about 12. The youngest was maybe 7. We were like, Oh man, we're not going to get any help at all... Kids won't be able to solve anything, and their parents will have to keep track of them.
But, there was this one part where you had to solve a puzzle that would allow you to move a bookshelf on treads. There was a small gap through which you could see the key, but it was too small to get more than a few fingers through... unless you were a small 7-year-old boy.
He just popped his arm in there and grabbed the key. We bypassed a good 5 minutes of the room that way. Also, the kids ended up being delightful and pretty good at finding stuff. I'd love to do another room with them."
"When I did an escape room with my friends, my tactic was to have gas so badly that my friends had to work faster to get out. I don't know what I ate, but whatever it was hit me once the door shut and it started.
It was rancid, like rotten eggs level rancid. I was giggling the whole time and I'm fairly certain I provided no actual benefit to the group. But I was farting so much and everyone was cussing at me while hustling to figure everything out. We got out with a few minutes to spare so I think I helped. It felt like it.
We took just a couple cars to the venue. Only my wife rode back with me. Everyone else piled into the other car to get away from me. I think she would have left too if she could have. Luckily, I host parties like an adult Easter egg hunt that usually ends with much puking and a passed out guy in a bunny outfit."
"I worked at an escape room for about a year, but one group managed to always stay in my mind.
It was a group of four women, maybe in their 50s, wasted out of their minds. They started off the room quite well with a pace that would allow them to escape, but then they encountered what we considered to be the easiest puzzle in the room. Basically, they get a long magnet and use it to pull a key out of a locked window. However, they, for some unknown reason, could not figure this out.
After a bit of trying, they asked for a clue. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was something along the lines of, 'Remember that magnet stick you guys got? Some might call it the key to success.'
Simultaneously, they all sighed, which is a common reaction when people realize that an answer to a puzzle was so simple. But no, they didn’t understand the clue. Instead, they shoved books into the window in hopes or getting the key, which is something we specifically told them not to do. We had to end up pulling them from the room as they started ripping apart the books.
Listen to your freaking operator."
"A friend of mine runs an escape room and told me this story.
A group was in a room that just so happened to have a drop ceiling. You know, the ones with the tiles you can lift up on and, I guess, go inside if you need to? Well that's what this group decided to do. The employee kept hearing weird thumps and bumps so he went in to check on everything and found two people up inside the ceiling. There was nothing in the ceiling. I've done that room and there is no indication that you should go into the ceiling. Why would they think that was an OK thing to do?
The escape room company has now added 'don't go in the ceiling' to their pre-game rules and safety spiel."
"I work in an escape room with a Victorian theme and once we had Adele with a few of her friends taking part. It all began pretty well but, after 10 minutes, things took a turn for the worse.
First she was shouting 'Clue' at the walls. Her friends told her it doesn't work like that, but she kept at it. Then, she started ripping up the wallpaper and I had to intervene on the speaker to tell her to stop. She went to the middle of the room and kept shouting 'Clue! Clue!' while her friends apologized toward the cameras. Then, she pulled out a lunchbox from her handbag and started eating hotdogs. Again, I told her that food was not allowed and she threw the hotdogs at the fireplace.
Then, she said that if she was Lady Gaga or Sia, we wouldn't be pulling this crap with her and started singing that 'Chandelier' song with a mocking tone. She then tried to reach for the actual chandelier and swing from it. Unfortunately, it was a fake chandelier and she ripped the whole thing off the ceiling onto her friends. We had to call security and she gave us the finger as she was walked out.
I do not trust tabloids with their paparazzi nonsense. I tried contacting a respectable newspaper and sent a letter, but I haven't received a reply yet. I don't want to hate on the poor woman. She was probably irritable because she had the munchies. Outside our establishment, her friends brought her a plastic container with leftover kebabs and she wolfed through them. She was immediately placated and returned to her old pleasant self."
"We took my sister and brother-in-law to their first escape room. It was a rogue artificial intelligence set up that was trying to kill us and blow up the world in 60 minutes, or whatever. It had lots of fun lights and fog.
Anyway, the third and final room had a raspberry Pi console set up. We were supposed to figure out a few clues and type in a simple code. Well, my brother-in-law's profession involves programming and, sure enough, he got carried away. In the spirit of the moment, he thought the puzzle was vastly more complex and he reprogrammed the puzzle and prompts. In short, he changed the victory parameters, so to speak, so we couldn’t put in 'X' to get 'Y' for the next lock. Then, I have no idea what rabbit hole he was going down, as I was busy in the previous room trying to solve a different puzzle.
A few minutes later, as soon as she figured it out, the poor employee stopped the game, came running in, and begged him to 'fix it' as she had no clue how to reset the program."
"In the escape room I work at, I once had a party of older 20-somethings come in during a day out. They didn’t pay much attention (I think some of them might’ve been a bit wasted, I’m not sure), but they worked at a pretty good pace.
In the room they were doing, they had to find a crank, a gear, and a handle in order to open a mechanical box that held the answer to the mystery they were trying to solve. We aren’t allowed to lock the door for safety reasons. So, before they even stepped in the room, I gave them a whole spiel about some rules and whatnot and told them that anything that looks like it needs more parts to work, it probably does, so please don’t force things.
This box clearly had a part for the gear and a part for the crank to attach to said gear on the side of the box. After finding the gear and the handle, but having not found the crank yet, one of the dudes in the room just attached the gear and, with the SHEER FORCE OF HIS GRIP, turned it without the crank and opened the box. I was just staring at the monitor openmouthed in awe. I haven’t seen anything before or after that that could possibly top that experience.
They ended up deciding to continue the room and try to find the crank after I informed them of what happened and that they’d technically solved the room, and had a blast."
"The escape room I manage stays open late on the weekends, often until midnight or later. One of these late night groups came in. The group consisted of a few couples and a girl who was an obvious 'third wheel.' They weren’t wasted, but they had definitely been having a great time before they came in. While I was giving the briefing, Third Wheel very loudly interrupted me to ask, 'Do we get an extra hint if I suck you off?'
Now I’m used to nutzo questions, but this one took me aback. I sort of laughed it off and continued my briefing and she asked me again. I laughed again and told her that no, I couldn’t let that happen. Surprisingly, one of the males in the room said, 'But, seriously, if she did... would we get an extra hint?'
At that point, I was like, 'Anyways... let’s get started!'
So, they didn’t do very well. Halfway through the hour, Third Wheel left the room to find me to give said pleasurable favor because they had burned through their hints. Thankfully, she couldn’t find the control room and gave up quickly. After the room was over and I was leading them out, they were all lamenting that they would’ve gotten out if they’d gotten that one last hint. That’s just one story."
"I was in a horror escape room in China. There were nine of us in total, and we reached a point where we were in a small room together. To advance to the next room, one of the girls (of whom there were three) had to bring an apple to the 'ghost' in the previous room, alone. All three girls were scared witless and refused to leave.
We checked with our supervisor through the walkie talkie and it definitely had to be a girl (to fit with the story). Finally, with no path forward, one of the guys opened the door and yelled into the hallway, 'Can I go if I’m gay?'
Some discussion ensued on the walkie talkie about this point, but they eventually relented."
"I have tons of stories about destructive players so, instead, how about a weird and actually intelligent method?
After my brief and video, the players started to run around the room all talking out loud, not necessarily talking to each other. I thought that there was no way they were going to escape with how disorganized they were... Boy was I wrong.
One of the group members shouts 'Pumpernickel' and everyone else shut up immediately. They continued to play like this through the rest of the game, whenever one of them had either found something interesting or figured out an answer, they would shout 'Pumpernickel' and, immediately, everyone else would give them their full attention. They got out in 30 minutes or so with 0 clues in a room with a 20% success rate and average time to complete is 45-50 minutes.
One of the better groups that I've managed or seen."
"I was in a room in Dallas where it was a different type of escape room. You break into a bank vault and you have HUNDREDS of lockboxes on the wall. Each has its own 'escape room' puzzle and the more you get, the more money you escape with. Also in the corner is an old style safe.
I went with a group and we were cranking out lockboxes left and right. One of my friends, an Eagle Scout, decided to just try the old school style of listening on the old safe to get it to work. We spent 15 minutes breaking into the vault, 40 minutes of doing lockboxes, and five minutes planting the dynamite and escaping. His entire time was breaking into that one safe (madness). He ended up doing it and we beat the record by over $1,000,000 because no one had ever done the safe.
Did they give him credit for that. That remains to be seen... but I thought we were going to get disqualified!"
"I did an escape room with four friends from work. One of them is super competitive, I might add. His weird tactic was trying to buy all the solutions to the problems in the escape room from the employees, just so that our group would be the fastest group to have completed that escape room. Well, he didn't offer enough money for them to do that, so we had to do it normally like everyone else.
I should add he was not much help in the actual escape room. He just went haywire and did nothing while trying to do everything. As an example, he spent, like, five minutes trying to figure out if the number of legs on the table (three) was a hidden clue, to a Morse code problem.
The Morse code problem was actually really interesting. It was a faucet where the water came in shorter and longer bursts and started in the middle of the answer which was a short sentence."
"I went to one where you start in an agency lobby and there's a small window into the next room. You were supposed to disassemble a vacuum cleaner to make a rod to lift keys from a panel that can only be reached if you use a hook on a bent rod, so the vacuum cleaner was supposed to be mandatory. My group just assumed that the employees were lazy and had forgotten their own vacuum cleaner in the room.
After a minute of confusion, I just climbed through the window and unlocked the door from inside. This was only possible because I'm pretty small, so we were quite confused about why they had assumed that each group coming through would have a short member or child to do that part."
"I've done a bunch of escape rooms with my friends. One of the early ones we tried, we only had five or six of us and there was a guy who walked in off the street that wanted to join. No problem, I thought.
Well, this guy had a multi-tool and spent the entire hour disassembling furniture. Like, unscrewing legs from chairs and tables and unscrewing light switch plates. We all told him that was not part of the room. The TV in the room with messages from the guy watching us told him repeatedly to stop. He ignored it and kept saying, 'That's what they want you to think!'
The employee finally came in the door, warned the guy, and he got pretty annoyed and standoffish. He refused to stop destroying and disassembling things, so he was asked to leave. The rest of us could stay and they gave us an extra 20 minutes for the distraction."
"It was a brand new escape room business, so the cameras had not been installed in the rooms yet. The game master told us to knock on the wall if we needed anything because they couldn't see or hear what was going on while we were playing. My wife and I were the only two people doing the escape room.
The theme was ancient Egypt and we got to a room that had a large sarcophagus that could open and had what looked like pistons attached to the bed of the sarcophagus. In the corner was a large mummy and I became convinced that the sarcophagus was a pressure plate that needed the mummy. My wife and I put the mummy into the sarcophagus and nothing happened. We were confused, but continued on.
Flash forward to us winning the game and talking with the game master -
ME: 'By the way, why did we have to put the mummy in the sarcophagus? It didn't do anything.'
GAME MASTER: 'Huh?'
ME: 'We put the mummy in the corner in the large sarcophagus but it didn't do anything in the room.'
Our game master busted out laughing and said she had never seen someone try doing that. We all had a good laugh. To this day, if we are stumped in an escape room, my wife suggests I put the mummy in the sarcophagus."
"I have done a lot of escape games. One time, there was a part where you had to solve a puzzle that then told you that you had to plug these electrical clamps onto these two metal pieces that then released a trap door that dropped another puzzle.
One of my friends grabbed both the metal clamps with her bare hands and the electrical current passed through her body, therefore dropping the next puzzle. So, we skipped the whole first puzzle and shaved maybe eight minutes off of our time, which would have been bad due to us only winning by, I think, around 45 seconds."
"We had a little puzzle where you had to find stickers with elements from the periodic table on them and the number they correspond with next to them. What you are supposed to do is find about 15 of them all around the room, and fill them in on a little screen. Keep in mind, the rest of the elements on the table weren't shown, only the ones you needed to fill in.
This one kid just knew the entire periodic table from the top of his head and skipped the entire part. The kid was like 14 he didn't get that far into chemistry yet. I was amazed.
It hadn't happened before since we chose the harder elements not everyone is familiarized with. Ununseptium doesn't immediately ring a bell for me."
"I am an assistant manager at an escape room. We have handcuffs in our escape room and people do the usual to get out of them: have a spare key they brought from home, use a bobby pin, also just slipping out of it.
One night, I had someone slip out of them. They said before the game that they were going to do this. But, they dislocated their thumb while doing so. They then proceeded to tell me that they had been practicing for this escape room just by doing that.
So, long story short, they ended up not being able to relocate their thumb, so they ended up doing the whole game for an hour and they didn’t break out."
"There was a drawer that would activate a black light when you pulled it open. The group was pretty dumb and clueless. I gave them a hint: 'You’ll find something useful if you open a certain drawer.'
Naturally, they found the drawer and someone decided that it would be 'useful' to grab the light bulb and rip it out of its socket. The entire room blacked out because they tripped the fuse. Needless to say, they did not escape."
"We were doing a prison escape room and had broken out of cells and into the guard's office. The phone in the office rang and I was another 'guard' asking when the shift ends or something. I stalled while the rest tried to work it out, but we were too slow. The guard on the phone sounded suspicious and hung up.
We scattered. Someone hid under the desk. One girl jumped back in the cell and pretended to be locked up. I was fully into a spare guard uniform by the time we realized no actor was coming to actually throw us back in jail because that would just end the game early.
Eventually the 'guard' called again and repeated the puzzle. He must have been watching us because there was a lot of laughter in his voice. "