Anaheim, CA: Room Escape Recommendations

Some of our favorite escape rooms in the United States are in Anaheim, California.

It’s worth the trip from Los Angeles, even if you get stuck in traffic and don’t have time to eat before the next game. (This might have happened to us.)

We’ve broken them out by category below.

Image from Disneyland in Anaheim. Statue of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse's hand in front of Cinderella's Castle.

Market standouts

  1. The Hex Room, Cross Roads Escape Games
  2. Zoe, Escapade Games
  3. Fun House, Cross Roads Escape Games
  4. Escape The Hydeout, Mission Escape Games (reviewed in 2015 in New York, visited in 2017 in California)
  5. Midnight on the Bayou, Red Lantern Escape Rooms

The set & scenery-driven adventures

The puzzle-centric

The story-driven

The newbie-friendly

The scary & intense

Mild frights:

The Hex Room, Cross Roads Escape Games

Major frights:

Zoe, Escapade Games

Games with actors

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro – Movie Theatre [Review]

Now playing.

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Date Played: February 10, 2018

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

Movie Theatre was a ton of fun to play through. It was unusual in aesthetics, set up, solutions, and reveals. The puzzles were more thematically relevant than integrated into a story, however, Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro kept us engaged with enjoyable nostalgic moments.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Popcorn aficionados
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fun reveals
  • Playful vibe
  • Quirkiness


A rival movie theatre was always outselling ours because of their superior popcorn. We’d bribed a disgruntled custodian to leave the back door unlocked so that we could sneak in and steal their popcorn’s secret ingredient.

In-game: A set of 4 movie theater seats in a small theater.


Movie Theatre was a very small movie theater. It had a big screen, a projector, two rows of stadium seats, and even disposable cups in the cupholders. Despite its size, the set nailed the aesthetic. It was an interesting place to puzzle.

In-game: The screen of a movie theater in the background, a cup and straw in the foreground.


Movie Theatre was a standard search-and-puzzle escape room that struck a nice balance between the two.

Part of the fun of this room escape was enjoying the props and set pieces.


Movie Theatre was an adorable miniaturization of a movie theater.

Movie Theater seemed basic at the onset, but as the game progressed it revealed hidden complexity.

The hint system put a thematic twist on standard escape room hinting.

Movie Theater didn’t take itself too seriously. Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro designed a gag into this escape room.

Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro added a prop that transformed what would have been an annoying paper-puzzle into an approachable, interesting, and thematically relevant challenge.


Movie Theater felt a little repetitive. We would have liked to see more variety from the puzzles.

While Movie Theater was cute, it didn’t narratively carry the comical popcorn recipe premise. Instead it was a themed escape room with a joke at the end. We would have liked to see Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro lean into the ridiculousness of the mission with more over-the-top interactions backed by story.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is parking out front.
  • We enjoyed the muffins (and other delicacies) at Mimi’s Cafe.

Book your hour with Locked: Escape Game Murfreesboro’s Movie Theatre, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Nashville, TN from July 27-29, 2018. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Franklin to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.


Mobile Escape Room Trailers: 16 Questions with Jason Garvett

At the start of 2018, there are over a dozen mobile escape rooms in the United States.

One of the earliest entrants was Jason Garvett of Mobile Room Escape, based in Chicago, IL. We met Jason at the 2017 Niagara Falls Escape Room Show where Mobile Room Escape was a vendor.

Mobile Room Escape Chicago trailer exterior, a yellow bricked wall with a steel door and their compass rose logo.

There are a lot of different types of “mobile” escape rooms and it wasn’t until February of 2018 that we had the opportunity to play a full length trailer-based escape room at Escape Plan Nashville. It was surprisingly… not trailer-ish! In fact, it was one of the most comfortable escape room experiences we’ve ever had.

We recently connected with Jason Garvett, owner of Mobile Room Escape, about the challenges of mobile-specific escape room operations.

Jason helped Escape Plan Nashville, as well as many other mobile companies, get up and running. He’s been around the block a few times.

Here are 16 questions we never thought we’d ask an escape room:

1: Room Escape Artist: We recently played Mayday Adventure at Escape Plan Nashville. The space felt so big! How do you make trailers feel spacious?

Jason: We definitely have to give the credit to Escape Plan Nashville and their design team for this one. At the end of the day a street-legal vehicle in the US can not be wider than 102 inches (8.5 feet). The floor plan will dictate the customers’ comfort level, how big or small the trailer looks, and the overall feng shui of the room.

I personally try to leave the center of the trailer as open as possible for people to move freely. I generally put major set pieces near the walls so that I can anchor these pieces to both the floor and ceiling.

In-game: The cabin of a private jet with overhead compartments, open windows, and large comfortable leather seats.
Escape Plan Nashville’s Mayday Adventure


2: The airplane theme worked great for the long and narrow trailer. How does trailer shape impact theme choice and game design?

The shape of the trailer can definitely help specific game designs such as Escape Plan Nashville’s Mayday Adventure or even our own Submarine game Down Periscope, but I would never let the shape of the trailer limit any theme choice. The job of the set designer and game designer should be to work together to justify and address why the room is the shape it is rather than rule out any one theme.

Mobile Room Escape Chicago interior - a submarine lined with puzzle stations.
Mobile Room Escape Chicago’s Down Periscope

3: Does the control room always take up a section of the trailer? How do you design for control room space?

We have units with and without control rooms. In Chicago we work with a lot of youth groups and have our gamemaster active in many of our games. However, we have a few games with control rooms. Some are in the front of the trailer; some are in the back of the trailer. Some are from an auxiliary location. One of our customers has their unit about 300 feet from their control room, but they can still operate, speak to, and watch their customers play the game.

4: How does climate impact your game design? Do you have to avoid any specific types of puzzles, components, or materials that might be temperature sensitive?

As you know, Chicago has the joys of both Mother Summer and nasty, old, grumpy, crotchety, angry-at-the-world, could-never-beat-an-escape-room-ever-in-her-life Grandma Winter. If you were to go out and buy a trailer and put an escape room in it you would severely suffer from extreme heat, dangerous freezing temperatures, condensation, and other elements that would severely impact your game.

It is not just a matter of sticking a few AC units in the roof or a heater in the corner of the room; proper insulation is essential. Trailers are made of metal beams to support their structure. Not only must the space between the beams be insulated but also the beams themselves. We take extra measures to make sure that our trailers are insulated well. We have built for climates in Florida, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, Illinois, and Washington, to name a few. Each is built specifically for its climate. As a rule of thumb, I leave any water puzzles out of the room.

5: The win condition for Mayday Adventure wasn’t “escape.” It seems like the classic “escape” win condition might be challenging to facilitate for mobile games where people would rush out the trailer and down a few steps and possibly into traffic. What are the win conditions for your games?

Our first game was an “escape” win condition. All of our following games have been different outcome scenarios. This has not been because of trailer height from the ground, but mostly because we try to come up with objectives that are more interesting than simply “escaping.”

We highly recommend to any Mobile Escape Room owner that you never let your customers run out of the room. When you park a Mobile Escape Room at a location you may have no traffic or other vehicles around you. An hour later rush hour might be in full swing and daylight might have turned to darkness. Keep your customers in your vehicle until your gamemaster is physically available to check the surrounding area.

6: Are there any particular safety considerations that you need to take into account when designing and building mobile games?

Your generator (if located on your vehicle) should be installed by a professional to avoid noxious fumes leaking into the trailer. Be aware of where your wires are during the construction process. Also keep in mind that your mobile unit is your business. Spending the time to train your gamemaster in driving the trailer, laws, regulations, and maintenance is extremely important.

7: When you park it at a location for business, how do you generate power? What do you do if power fails?

We power our units with ultra-quiet and fuel-efficient Honda or Cummins Onan Generators. Just like any good escape room that doubles up on props and locks we also carry a backup generator in case of failure. This is located in our pickup truck. We also carry shore power cables where we could hook up to a 15 amp wall outlet in a real emergency.

8: Do you need a special license to drive a large trailer?

A commercial drivers license or CDL is necessary when your tractor (truck) and tow (trailer unit) is 26,001 lbs. or greater. Under that weight your regular driver’s license will suffice (always check your local rules of the road as your combined vehicle weight may require you to have a license endorsement). Be careful though, because there are certain fees, documents, and regulations that will accompany you on different weight levels. These regulations vary on a state and municipal level. When we consult with our clients we always advise on the best practices for their location.

9: What type of insurance do you need for the trailer?

You need a good commercial auto insurance along with your normal liability insurance. Most insurance companies will lump you in as a commercial truck driver, which is anywhere in excess of $10,000 per year just on auto policies. With 9 years in the mobile entertainment industry, we have been able to work with some excellent insurance brokers that have gotten us extremely good rates. We help all of our customers to achieve excellent coverage at a fraction of the rack rate price. If you decide to do everything on your own I recommend staying away from your local Geico and Allstate agent and finding a good insurance broker who truly understands your business and knows how to explain it to insurance companies.

10: I’m guessing that the answer is no… but I want to ask the question anyway. Has your escape room ever been in a traffic accident?

Traffic accident (knock on wood), no. Ticket, yes. A driver of mine was driving our 32-foot escape room in the left lane of a highway for about 5 miles. A big no-no. (Larger vehicles stay in the right lane unless passing.) This was on our way to an all-day event 75 miles from us. Luckily all of our necessary DOT paperwork was in order and our inspections up to date. We walked away with a slap on the wrist.

It is extremely important to hire a driver with the maturity to handle situations like this. That does mean more than minimum wage. All of our gamemasters/ drivers go through a minimum of 30 days training on driving, regulations, game play, and customer service.

11: Regulations for brick and mortar escape rooms vary by municipality. For example, some towns/ cities/ countries won’t let escape rooms lock players in. What different regulations impact mobile escape rooms? Are you subject to similar regulations as truckers? Are you subject to different regulations if you park the trailer in certain places?

There are so many avenues to stroll down with this question, which is why when we advise all our clients we take a significant amount of time to learn their location, ways they want to operate, and company goals. There are Federal DOT rules, State DOT rules, Regional DOT rules, Building Codes, ADA Codes, fire codes, etc . Absolutely there are different codes a mobile operation abides by, but the list is too long to put them all here. If you decide to take the plunge solo, do your research. Do not build a room in a trailer, bus, or box truck before you talk to officials. Keep in mind too that you are a mobile business. We have operated in 14 states, each one with different regulations. This is not meant to scare a mobile owner. Just be knowledgeable and prepared to educate an inspector about the business.

12: Tradeshows probably aren’t your bread and butter. Who are your typical clients?

This interview gave me an excuse to check our statistics for our Chicago clientele for everyday private escape room rentals: 40% youth birthday parties, 40% corporate events, 10% religious, camp and school, 5% university/college, and 5% social. (These numbers are rounded.)

In terms of our mobile escape room sales and inquiries, about 75% are existing escape room owners realizing the value of bringing a team-building activity to their clients, 15% are other attractions and family entertainment centers, and 10% are event planners.

13: How far will you drive it for an event? And how does pricing work for long distance delivery?

We have been fortunate enough to operate in 14 different states. We have been as far east as South Carolina and as far west as western Iowa. We have had offers to travel to Washington, California, Texas, Abu Dhabi and Australia. Sometimes it makes more sense to turn over business to partners in closer areas (both for us and our clients). When we do extended travel we must calculate miles, employee hours, hotels, parking, meals, tolls, and miscellaneous items to make sure we are not shortchanging ourselves. We had a travel program especially created for us that takes into account all of these factors.

Mobile Room Escape Chicago interior - a submarine lined with puzzle stations. WWII propaganda posters hang on the wall.
Mobile Room Escape Chicago’s Down Periscope

14: Can the general public book with you? If there are escape room enthusiasts living in Chicago, how do they find you?

In Chicago we only do private events. It is a flat rate for us to come out to your location. However, we get daily requests for 2, 3, or 4 person bookings. We care about these customers as much as we do our 60-person corporate events. We gather information from these clients and work to set up times where multiple groups can be paired.

15: You’ve been in the mobile escape room business longer than most. In fact, you were the first mobile escape room we added to our Escape Room Directory. Recently, we’ve been investigating a claim to a patent on the concept of “mobile escape room.” Your business is proof of “prior art.” Considering your longevity as a mobile escape room and vendor of mobile escape rooms, what are your thoughts on patents and trademarks in mobile escape rooms?

I focus my time and effort not on patenting my product, but on unique customer service, customer experience, and my employees’ experience. To me, that is what equals a successful product that few can copy.

I do think a trademark is important to have for your business for both the business owner and safety of the customer. A person eats at Burger King because they know the product and customer experience they can expect. They would probably be upset if they went to a “Burger King” and found it was not the burger chain, but a new mom-and-pop restaurant. From Burger King’s standpoint, it stops other companies from trying to pose as them, build off of their success, and possibly tarnish their name with an inferior product. If you want to start a burger company call it something other than “Burger King” and give a better overall experience.

My own personal take on patents is they are a big waste of time when it comes to any creative venture. Whether I go to a play, an escape room, a musical concert, or stroll through an art gallery, or just walk through a state park, I am constantly inspired by what is around me. It jogs my creative juices and gives me a courage to be bold and test my limits. As an actor, I never wanted to copy the way Kenneth Branagh played Henry V, but I would watch and learn from great actors, and then find a way to make this my own. I am sure, David and Lisa, you have seen hundreds of bombs in a briefcase, circuit breaker boxes, and patch cord puzzles in your escape room journeys. What makes any one of these truly unique is how the escape room utilizes that puzzle in their game. That is not copyable.

16: Do you have any additional advice for someone who might be considering whether or not to build a mobile escape room?

I get about 3 to 5 emails/ calls weekly from potential mobile escape room owners. My biggest piece of advice is this: “do it right the first time.”

If you wanted to, you could go out and buy a 5 year old 26-foot used steel trailer and put a game in it for $20,000 dollars. I can guarantee you within your first year in business you will put $10,000 into proper insulation, heating, and cooling, and $5,000 into structural repair. Add another $5,000 for the electric, lights, and structural elements to make it an entertainment trailer. Then there will be about $10,000 to $20,000 in lost revenue from the time you will have to take it off the road for upgrades. For that same price you could have bought a brand new aluminum (will never rust) trailer with all the proper equipment to run a successful Mobile Escape Room business for many years. You would not put a brick and mortar escape room in a building with termites, shoddy electrical, and bad heating and cooling… don’t do that for a mobile unit either.

I’ve talked a lot about trailers, but it is important to note that this mobile community exists for trailers, busses, box trucks, tents and pop-up games. There are many good reasons why we recommend trailers over other vehicular forms of entertainment. However, we do not discriminate against other forms. We have many successful friends running bus operations. For any of these forms, we advise doing the research and seeing what the long term costs are for operation.

And our final piece of advise… stay out of the left lane when on the freeway.

Thank you, Lisa and David, for all you do for the escape room industry.

Escape Plan Nashville – Mayday Adventure [Review]

“This is your captain speaking. Kindly solve some puzzles or we’re going to crash.”

Location: Mobile in/around Nashville, TN

Date Played: February 11, 2018

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $350 minimum. Includes travel to and from up to 25 miles, set up, and up to two games which will run up to 12 people (that’s $29/person). See website for additional pricing information.

REA Reaction

Mayday Adventure can be your own private jet of puzzles delivered to you… and even when these seemed straight forward, they frequently had a fun twist. Escape Plan Nashville smartly designed for their mobile trailer gamespace. With the exception of one section of the set, they created a cozy and elegant adventure.

Who is this for?

  • Corporate Groups
  • People with large families and large driveways
  • Puzzle lovers
  • People who like to be comfortable while playing an escape room
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It comes to you
  • Fun puzzles
  • Comfortable environment
  • Creative set up


Our crew found the Fenn treasure hidden by author and art dealer Forrest Fenn in the Rocky Mountains.

On our private flight home we were drugged and restrained in our seats. No one in the cockpit seemed able to respond to us. We already had the treasure. The only remaining question was: could we preserve it and our lives?

In-game: A passport with a seat ticket held up against an airplane window.


Mayday Adventure was a mobile, trailer-based escape room and the first full-length one that we ever played. As we stepped into the black trailer, we were struck by two things:

First, the trailer looked a lot bigger on the inside. This was likely because Escape Plan Nashville chose to create an airplane set and airplanes are a lot longer than they are wide, thus playing to the dimensions of the trailer.

Second, the private plane set looked good and felt comfortable. (Those seats were a beautiful thing in our 14th and final game of the weekend). Mayday Adventure came complete with overhead bins and a flight attendant cart.

In-game: The cabin of a private jet with overhead compartments, open windows, and large comfortable leather seats.


We began Mayday Adventure restrained in phenomenally comfortable seats with locked seatbelts. (There was an easy emergency release).

From there it was a normal escape room in a smaller space (but honestly it was larger than some of the games we’ve played in Manhattan). If we had been blindfolded and brought into the gamespace without any context, I don’t think we would have had any idea that we were in a mobile escape room trailer.

In-game: An airplane service cart with beverages and cups on top.


We loved the initial set up: We already had the treasure and we were flying home with it. This was a smart twist on the heist/ treasure hunt escape room theme.

The puzzle variety in Mayday Adventure enabled group solves. Escape Plan Nashville added complexity to standard sequences in such a way that more people could enjoy the challenge and have ah-ha moments. The puzzling was inclusive, without being rudimentary.

A mid-game sequence shocked and surprised even when we knew it was coming.

The trailer-as-airplane made sense. The gamespace was naturally long and narrow. With bare white walls, it felt surprisingly spacious. Furthermore, Escape Plan Nashville eliminated any remnants of “trailer” by constructing curved walls and airplane windows. Our private jet felt pretty luxurious.


After the thoughtful cabin design, the cockpit felt bare and lackluster. We’d been anticipating the new gamespace and the emptiness didn’t pay off the anticipation or escalate the intensity of the experience.

We encountered a number of red herrings in Mayday Adventure. In one instance we received a collection of props, but ultimately only one of them mattered, without any clear indication of why the others weren’t relevant. The rest of the collection turned into a massive red herring. Escape Plan Nashville could strip out or simplify some of the extraneous materials and add complexity elsewhere.

Tips for Visiting

  • You need space for the trailer to park.
  • See their website for minimum purchase information and travel distance parameters.

Book your hour with Escape Plan Nashville’s Mayday Adventure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Nashville, TN from July 27-29, 2018. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Franklin to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.)

Locks and Puzzles – Western Bank Heist [Review]

Tick, tick, boom.

Location: Lakewood, NJ

Date Played: January 27, 2018

Team size: up to 5; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $22 per ticket

REA Reaction

Western Bank Heist was a ton of fun. It was inclusive, but not overly simple. It was unrealistic, but it didn’t try to be more than a game. We road off into the sunset smiling… having played our 500th escape room.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Western fans
  • Any experience level
  • Families
  • Players who can cooperate

Why play?

  • The adorable props
  • Solid puzzles
  • Team experience


Our band of bandits arrived in a small frontier town in search of food, water and supplies. We also found the town quiet and the bank full. It was heist time.

In-game: sign for an old western back beside the skull of a steer.


We entered a collage of an old western town. The walls were painted with murals, each one representing something different. Tangible props lined those walls.

There were more tangible interactions in Western Bank Heist than in Malus the Elf, but at the same time, the focus on the murals made the set more abstract.

In-game: ACME Dynamite


Western Bank Heist had a unique style of play where most of the puzzles came together at once, even when we were doing lots of different things.

Western Bank Heist most readily rewarded observation.


Western Bank Heist was adorably thematic. It didn’t try to be realistic. The set and props were playful and fun.

Western Bank Heist could engage less puzzle-minded players. It was easy to get involved.

One larger, layered puzzle required different types of observation. This too helped engage different types of players in a collective solve.

Locks and Puzzles incorporated technological puzzle elements well. These were interactive and gave feedback.


It was frustrating to get started. Locks and Puzzles abundantly clued the opening interaction, but the layout of the set – more thematic than realistic – buried the opening thread of the gameplay.

The scale and details of a crucial prop were a bit off. We struggled with a puzzle simply because we didn’t realize what the prop was supposed to be.

Western Bank Heist teeters on the edge of outside knowledge. While it would be possible to solve this escape room without these specific skills, it would certainly be much more challenging.

Tips for Visiting

  • Locks and Puzzles has ample parking available out front.
  • There are plenty of food options nearby.

Book your hour with Locks and Puzzles’ Western Bank Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Locks and Puzzles provided media discounted tickets for this game.

The Escape Game – Nashville [Review]

After years of players asking… we finally played Nashville.

Location: Nashville, TN

Date Played: February 11, 2018

Team size: up to 7; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $31.99 per ticket

REA Reaction

Since it opened in 2014, Nashville has introduced many players to escape rooms… and gotten them hooked. We are thrilled to have played this escape room that folks have been asking us to visit almost since we started writing this blog.

Nashville was fun. The puzzles, set, and reveals all contributed to our enjoyment. While some puzzles felt dated, The Escape Game Nashville made upgrades to keep Nashville relevant.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Music fans
  • Tourists
  • Players who don’t mind math
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Nashville introduced so many escape room enthusiasts to escape rooms.
  • Local theme
  • Great old-school escape room puzzles


Our up-and-coming band wanted legendary and retired producer Rick Teggen to produce our next record. Rumor had it that Teggen had hidden a contract in his old recording studio and had vowed to work with the band who could follow his clues to find it.

In-game: A massive stack of blonde Marshall amps.


Nashville was one of the earliest escape rooms around and one that got a lot of players hooked on escape rooms in general. If you played this room escape in the early days, you would hardly recognize it today, as The Escape Game upgraded it dramatically from their more humble beginnings. (We know this because we had passive teammates in the room who had played it years ago and were shocked by the enhancements.)

Nashville was a recording studio complete with mixing boards, amps, guitars, a recording booth, and memorabilia from famous people who had recorded in the legendary space. It looked sharp.

In-game: A music studio's mixing station.


Nashville was an old-school escape room that had been upgraded significantly. It was search heavy. The puzzling was focused on building connections and working through process puzzles.

There was also a bit of math, which was one of those love-it-or-hate-it interactions that used to be common, has fallen out of favor in American escape games, and doesn’t make an appearance in The Escape Game’s newer adventures.

In-game: closeup of a large mixing board.


The Escape Game opened in 2014 with this locally-themed escape room. This, their original creation, embodied Nashville. The premise wasn’t entirely predictable either. It came together well.

The reveal. When Nashville opened, I imagine it would have been magical. Since then The Escape Game added just enough noise to maybe throw you off, even if you’ve played their other escape rooms and you’re expecting it.

Nashville clued a search puzzle with unexpected technology. It was a neat concept and far ahead of its time.


This cluing didn’t quite work as seamlessly as we would have liked; the searching was still frustrating.

One puzzle needed to be solved on a flat surface, but we didn’t have an appropriate surface. Our choice of surface disrupted our gameplay.

Nashville leaned too heavily on one “paper puzzle” that could be solved without manipulating the set and props. Given the staging for the clues, a louder and more dynamic puzzle would have better fit the beat of the interaction.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: If you aren’t parking at Music City Center for a conference, we recommend the lot under the Metro Courthouse (accessible from Gay Street and from James Robertson Parkway).
  • Food: Demo’s Restaurant and Puckett’s

Book your hour with The Escape Game’s Nashville, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Nashville, TN from July 27-29, 2018. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Franklin to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

David Guest Hosts the Room Escape Divas Podcast

This week I had the pleasure of guest hosting the Room Escape Divas podcast. I interviewed six guests about the ups and downs and all sorts of whacky and bizarre things that happened during the Prexcyt Quest puzzle hunt.

Room Escape Divas Logo, a cartoon representation of the four hosts.


Justin Nevins, creator of the Cryptex and sponsor of the hunt.

Darren Miller, puzzle designer.

Dan Egnor, puzzle designer.

David Lewis, developer, technical support, and accidental security officer.

Errol Elumir, puzzle designer, and actual Room Escape Divas podcaster.

Manda Whitney, mistress of hints, trolled by Errol, and actual Room Escape Divas podcaster.


If you participated in Prexcyt Quest, this will give you a behind the scenes listen into how this unusual hunt came about and all sorts of zany and unexpected things that happened throughout its run.

From discussions of unusual “features” like gold allergies and hyper-contagious Zombie Tourettes, to the technical meltdown and hacking that almost destroyed the game, I had a lot of fun hosting. I was pretty surprised to hear much of what went on myself.

I hope you enjoy: Room Escape Divas, Episode 61 – Cryptex Hunt Behind the Scenes

“The Wrong MacGyver Solution” [Room Design]

Allowing for player improvisation in an escape room (or MacGyver-ing) creates some of the most incredible moments that this form of entertainment has to offer.

The Benefits of MacGyver Puzzles

Speaking as a player, many of my most memorable escape room experiences stem from being presented with a challenge and the opportunity to craft our own solution using our wits and the items that we could scavenge from the gamespace.

While these types of interactions make me feel like I have freedom, there are usually a select few solution options available, sometimes even just one… and that’s fine. The fun comes in discovering and executing the “hack.”

A pencil, paperclip, & rubber band.

Unfortunately, there are a few ways that this can go wrong.

I’m going to use two approximations of real life examples without naming the games or companies or providing the specific solution. If you’re hyper-sensitive to anything resembling a spoiler, turn away now. 

Strange Rules

Before entering a room escape, we were explicitly told that we weren’t allowed to bend anything. It was a pretty strange and unusual rule… but sure… we wouldn’t bend anything.

Early in the escape room we found a bottle mounted to a fixed surface. It had a key in it. We began searching for a means to get it out.

We eventually found a box of paperclips, and one of our teammates began assembling a paperclip chain. When his chain was long enough, he was about to bend a final paperclip into a hook. I stopped him and reminded him of our unusual “no bending” rule.

A little annoyed, he stopped and we searched the room for something else we could use as a hook. We eventually found the item that had been hidden in the gamespace for us to attach to a paperclip chain and retrieve our prize.

Where This Went Wrong

  1. The rule was strange, easy to forget, and came into play late enough in the game that most of the team had forgotten it.
  2. We had to debate whether bending a paperclip really constituted a rule violation. Sure, it would be destroying an item in the room, but it was a damn paperclip. You can buy a thousand paperclips for less than $7.
  3. Had I not stopped my teammate, we certainly would have been chastised by the gamemaster, who was heavy-handed about rules and control.
  4. This killed the momentum of a puzzler on the path to a good solve. Ironically, the “real solution” was the same thing. We just needed to search like crazy to find something that was already in the shape of a hook.
  5. This eliminated the opportunity for creativity. What started off enjoyably was bogged down by a cruddy rule.

One True Solution

We were making quick work of an interesting game. Our team was solving along until we hit a snag: a gate blocking us from reaching a critical item.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that the gate was firmly fixed in place. I was confident that there weren’t trap doors and the gate had no locking mechanism (mechanical or magnetic). There were, however, small gaps in the gate.

I looked around the gamespace for something long and narrow that could reach through the gate and found a curtain rod. It was mounted low enough that I could reach it effortlessly and it was fixed to its bracket with a brass thumbscrew. I unmounted it, reached in through the gate, and easily pulled back my prize.

It was close enough that I could reach it with my fingers when the gamemaster chastised me for “using the wrong item.” My solution was dead on; my tool was incorrect.

Even though I had completed the challenge already, I went searching for the “right tool.” It took me less than a minute to find it. Ironically, I had to disassemble a different item in the room. I only knew that I had the “right tool” by observing the wear on it.

I feigned like I was using it to retrieve the item. (The gamemaster’s camera angle didn’t let him see that I had already finished the puzzle before he slapped my wrist.) Then I moved on.

Where This Went Wrong

  1. The company wanted this puzzle solved in a specific manner, but didn’t use clues to indicate what the right solution was. It was left to the players’ imaginations.
  2. My solution worked and was non-destructive.
  3. The gamemaster didn’t have enough camera coverage to realize that I was already done with the puzzle. (The only reasons that I persisted in finding the right solution were to make sure that I knew what it was in the event that we found other relevant cluing… and because I was curious as a reviewer.)
  4. Like in the last example, my momentum, feeling of success, imagination, and enthusiasm were needlessly shut down.

The Lesson

Rules are important to protect the players, game, and gamemaster.

Rules are a terrible way to “fix” a puzzle with multiple solutions.

If a player is respecting the gamespace and having fun, let them explore and solve how they see fit.

If they destroy a single paperclip that costs $0.00648, maybe that’s not a problem.

Fun is more important than technically correct or intended solutions.

Dispatch by Breakout – On the Run, Box 2

Ya gotta dumpster dive, and then you solve away.

Location: at home

Date Played: February 20, 2018

Team size: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯; we recommend  2-4

Duration: as long as it takes to solve the puzzles

Price: $24.99 per month for a monthly subscription

REA Reaction

On the Run, Box 2 provided more puzzles and less narrative than On the Run, Box 1. It was only recognizable as the sequel in so far as it was part of the same story. While we didn’t enjoy all the puzzles equally, we appreciated how they generally tied into the fiction.

If you are on the fence after the first box, this ones plays really differently. Try it.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Armchair detectives
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The puzzles are tied to the narrative.
  • You can play at home.


After the events in On the Run, Box 1, we were following a lead in South America and exploring additional evidence in the mysterious murder of our best friend’s wife.

An assortment of documents and items from Dispatch Box 2.


Where the bulk of the Prelude involved reading a journal, this time we focused on smaller, less exposition-y pieces of evidence. We had some garbage to explore as well as other mysterious items and documents.

Most of the items in Box 2 were paper based with varying paper stock and printing style. There was one beautiful metal item. As with Box 1, we needed a web browser to access key content and interactions.

Everything helped us learn more about the conspiracy underpinning the murder.


Box 2 used the story established in Box 1 as a backdrop for a more puzzle-focused installment. This was a considerably more tangible and puzzley box to play through.

The shift in gameplay was a significant improvement over the first box.

The chapter concluded with a video that both indicated the end of the box’s puzzles and recapped everything that we were supposed to have uncovered.


Box 2 was a lot more tangible and interactive than Box 1, which was almost entirely exposition.

The puzzles felt like puzzles.

Box 2 advanced the story, while adding to the mystery.

The items and interactions seemed like they belonged in the story.


While all the puzzles came together and made sense, and we enjoyed ourselves, it also felt tedious. Most of the key interactions were process puzzles. Once we had the aha moment, we had a lot of work to grind through in order to complete the objective.

Tips for Playing

  • Box 1 items were required for resolving Box 2.
  • You will need scotch tape.

Subscribe to Dispatch by Breakout’s On the Run, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Dispatch by Breakout provided a complementary subscription.

(If you purchase via our link, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale.)

Escape Immerse Explore: New Orleans – Expansion Update

The original 24 tickets to this escape room tour are officially sold out. We made jambalaya to celebrate!

Close up of a pot of chicken and sausage jambalaya.
And yes, it was delicious.

More tickets?

Due to some serious fixed costs – like an extra bus – we need to get enough people to make it work.

At the moment, we are about halfway to that second bus. All we need is a few more interested parties and that bus will become a reality.

If there is enough interest, we will run a second tour bus. Contact us if you want in.


Dates: June 22 – 24, 2018

Price: $599 per ticket

More information and FAQ.

Still on the fence?

Consider what’s included:

If you have questions, just give us a shout.