Escape Room Employees Share The Weirdest Things They’ve Witnessed People Do While Trying To Escape
Escape Rooms are relatively simple in concept: You go into a room, solve some puzzles, use the provided clues…and escape. But they’re actually much more than that. They’re totally immersive experiences—from a Victorian, Sherlock Holmes Escape Room in Paris to Mission: Mars in Orlando, each new company tries to out-theme and out-smart the last. With so much competition around the world, Escape Rooms have begun creating more and more complex puzzles to solve.
In fact, depending upon the difficulty of the Room, fewer than 20% of people actually manage to escape by solving these puzzles. It’s no wonder that customers sometimes resort to strange, often ridiculous means to get out. There is nothing like the sweet taste of victory. Here are a few of the top Reddit stories of Escape Room shenanigans, told by those who participated or the employees who watched them do it.
#1 Family Problems
The most awkward is when you see legitimate borderline verbal abuse in families, usually from the dad to the children. Some people forget that this is just a game. This stuff hurts my soul.
#2 Straight To The Source
Not an employee, but one time my group of friends walked into Breakout KC, and my friend proceeded to turn off the main circuit breaker. All the doors and some of the traps were locked electronically. So basically we beat the escape room in a record 9 seconds.
#3 Have Hammer, Will Escape
Escape Room employee here; 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.
#4 You, Me, And God…And The Employee Watching Us Through CCTV
When I started the job, my manager was like, “You’ve got to be extra careful with the Jews.” At first, I thought he was being a real bigot. But it turns out that 90% of our customer base are full on Hasidic or otherwise orthodox Jewish families. We don’t know why—perhaps, as a tight-knit community, we’re just deep into a chain of personal recommendations. Regardless, they are lovely people, but they’ve many proclivities. A Jewish couple will come in and explain that they can’t be locked in a room together for religious purposes (a man and a woman that aren’t married can’t be alone in a room together) so we need to come in and ‘check’ on them every few minutes.
#5 Always Be Prepared
I had a group pull out a toolkit. They unscrewed all the furniture to find some combinations. They didn’t escape and I made them fix everything—took them about an hour.
#6 Brawn Over Brains
Not an employee, but participated in an escape room in which a key was stuck to a filing cabinet by one of those weird little metal puzzles. The key was to open a drawer in a desk on the opposite side of the room.
No one could get the metal puzzle undone, so the guys just picked up the filing cabinet and carried it over to the desk. It was a mob-themed room so we received a phone call warning about rearranging the furniture that was hilariously in character.
We escaped the room.
#7 In Google We Trust
Someone took out their phone and Googled “how to get out of an escape room?” It was so funny that we all started laughing on the floor, and accidentally hit a switch that opened the next clue. So, I guess that’s how you get out of an escape room.
#8 Never Always Leave A Man Behind…
Not an employee, but I’m sure my friend group looked pretty weird to them. We did the one where you get stuck in handcuffs and have to unlock them, but we couldn’t get the key to work on one of my friends. We assumed that there was another key to get the last person, for some reason, and left her attached to the wall for like twenty minutes.
It turns out her cuffs were broken and we had to pause the game so the employees could come and get her out with bolt cutters.
They were shocked that we’d just left her there but we thought it was part of it!
#9 The Child Groom
So we do proposals. A ring in the final puzzle box, proposal signs, whole package deal, people love it. A 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. The 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, the dude refuses to buy out all of the tickets. He 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 “NAME REDACTED, will you go with me to PROM?”
And the entire staff loses their collective minds. 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.
#10 Fight Or Flight Or…
One 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’m no poop toucher.
#11 No, Bro
Two guys were doing a room and thought the next step they needed to ‘appear to be 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. I think it was funnier because of the fact that they wouldn’t do it because of their pride, rather than it actually looked not straight.
#12 Dumbest Genius
A customer opened a cryptex at the beginning of the game, figured out how the mechanism was set, then reset it to a secret word and closed it. I guessed P E N I S… I was right.
#13 You Know What Happens When You Assume
One time a family came in. I’m not sure which country of origin they had, but they seemed Asian-American to me. But I am an uneducated buffoon, so I couldn’t tell you what language the parents spoke. They spoke very sparingly in their original language, and the children spoke in accented English. They went through the room, the children solving most of the puzzles, and the father following them around silently with a notepad and pen, nodding and writing things as they found clues.
They got out, I took their picture, and they left, and everyone seemed to have had a good time.
I reset the room, then get to the notepad only to find on the first page in perfect English: “What if we can’t get out? Do we die in here?”
I burst out laughing, realizing this man was hilarious and I wanted to chase him down and take his family to lunch. Then I flipped to the next page: “Day 56, our rations are running low. We fear for our lives. We are thinking of cannibalism.”
It was my best experience working there and I’ll never forget it as long as I live. My racist rear-end got owned in the funniest, most heartwarming way possible.
#14 To Quench A Thirst
We have cameras and microphones inside the rooms—that way we know what hints to give out. Another important thing is that the room they were in had a small fountain, and since the particular aesthetic of this room was dusty, that water was filthy. I’m talking about murky, brown-yellow, mud-water.
At one point one of the guys says he is thirsty and proceeds to stick his mouth onto the fountain’s stream and take a hefty gulp of the mud-water. We spend a second in shock/guffaw and tell them that drinking the water isn’t part of the puzzle. The guy reads the hint and just says “that’s alright”. He proceeded to do the same thing four times and drank the whole fountain (small fountain, but still like a gallon of mud-water).
We’ve had more inconvenient things happen, but that still remains as the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
#15 Must Have Been One Good Actor
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 obvious prop gun (orange tip and whatnot), and the group has to defuse a fake bomb. One of the groups that did this room was a police squad, as a bonding activity. 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.
#16 Red Scare
Actual escape room employee here! 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
#17 You Rotten Child!
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.”
#18 When In Doubt, Drink!
Employee here. One group gave up after 5 minutes and decided to drink alcohol rest of the game. They paid 120€ for the game.
#19 Please Keep Your Clothes On
The guy gave some rules to us when we were doing the room. The first rule he gave us was, “Please keep your clothes on.”
Take off clothes, get kicked out, room escaped. Winner!
#20 Groupthink Is A Thing
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 ten groups in a row who take it off the wall and dismantle it because they’ve become convinced it means something. They’ll draw 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.