Update: This piece is outdated. We published US Escape Room Industry Report – July 2022 on July 30, 2022.
We are looking at a maturing escape room industry.
There are more than 2,300 escape room facilities in the the United States.
We’ve been tracking the growth of the escape room industry since 2014.
After four years, growth continues, but not quite as rapidly. As the market matures, a few trends have started to emerge.
Growth Over Time
At the end of 2014, there were approximately 2 dozen escape room facilities in the United States.
The growth rate peaked in Q3 of 2016. Since then the facility growth has been steady but less vigorous.
Counting Escape Rooms
The numbers above count individual escape room facilities. If a company operates half a dozen locations, we are counting it as 6 escape room facilities. If a company operates two locations down the street from each other, we count each separately as a different facility.
These numbers includes some companies that aren’t officially open for business, but appear to be opening in the near future.
In order to list a facility, we must see its physical address publicized on its own website.
These numbers do not include companies that might open some day. A social media page does not count as “open soon.” A city name with no address does not count as “open soon.”
These numbers include permanent entertainment establishments. We do not include limited-time escape room events, even if they are open for a month or two. To the best of our ability, our directory (and this study) includes permanent, established businesses.
Most escape room facilities on our map are dedicated to escape rooms only. Others are part of larger entertainment facilities or housed in restaurants or other business establishments.
Mobile Escape Rooms
These numbers include mobile escape room facilities.
Mobile escape rooms take many forms. Some are built into trailers or buses. Others are delivered in boxes and crates and set up in the player’s home, office, or another room of their choosing. These companies generally serve a specific geographic area.
The mobile escape room market is growing. Our directory includes 24 mobile operations located across 13 states.
Chains and Franchises
A few companies are proliferating, opening multiple facilities around the country. There are now five companies with more the 20 facilities.
Last year only Key Quest and Breakout Games offered more than 20 facilities. Breakout Games has continued to grow, from 37 locations last year to 45 locations this year.
In mid 2018, All In Adventures, Escapology, and Escape the Room also operate more than 20 facilities.
Additionally, more companies have expanded beyond 5 locations. Last year there were 14 companies operating more than five locations. This year there are 21 companies, tallied below:
|All In Adventures||37|
|Escape the Room||21|
|The Great Escape Room||13|
|Epic Escape Game||11|
|Great Room Escape||10|
|The Escape Game||9|
|Amazing Escape Room||8|
|60 Out Escape Rooms||8|
|Texas Panic Room||7|
|The Puzzle Effect||7|
|Mastermind Escape Games||6|
|Exodus Escape Room||6|
|Escape This Live||6|
|Escape Zone 60||6|
Count of locations is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Some of our favorite games are run by companies on this list. Most are not.
The vast majority of US escape rooms – more than 1,700 – are single-location operations.
After 4 years, we’ve tracked over 220 escape room facility closures. One year ago, we’d tracked only 45 closures. This is a substantial increase in facility closures.
The closures include both single-facility operators and facilities affiliated with larger companies that still operate other locations.
Closures are not endemic to one market. We’ve tracked closures in 41 states and DC. The most closures are in the states with the most escape rooms and the largest populations.
The five states with the largest populations have the most escape rooms: California, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York.
The five states with the fewest escape rooms also have the smallest populations (although this doesn’t map quite 1-to-1): Vermont, South Dakota, Delaware, Wyoming, and Alaska.
The states with the most escape rooms per capita are Colorado, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, and Utah. Colorado has significantly more escape rooms per capita than any other state.
The states with the least escape rooms per capita are Vermont, Louisiana, Iowa, Maryland, and Alabama. Vermont has significantly fewer escape rooms per capita than any other state.
Analysis & Conclusions
As the industry continues to grow, we must work together to grow it in a healthy, sustainable way.
Each company can contribute by attracting new players and delivering such phenomenal experiences that these players want to play another escape room. And another. We need to grow the market together.
As the growth tapers off, it will do so unevenly. Areas with strong player bases will support more escape room companies. The United States isn’t one market. Different regional trends have emerged in game design, business practices, and player expectations. We will continue to see market diversification.
The closures don’t mean the industry is imploding. It means that some companies are not running successful businesses. These companies typically lack quality products or business operational skills. It’s not a bad thing for these companies to close. They were frequently turning first-time players away from future escape rooms.
Many companies are flourishing. We look forward to the incredible experiences they will create for us and for every other player who walks through their doors.
Methodology & Data Caveats
Directory vs Study
This study only encompasses escape rooms in the United States.
The REA directory primarily covers the United States. It also includes escape rooms in Central America, the Caribbean, and some Canadian escape rooms that are just across the US border. Data for those locations, however, is not included in the study.
Following the publication of our first piece on the US industry growth in 2016 we published more detailed information on our methodology for tracking the growth of the industry. That piece includes a bit of history about our directory and additional perspectives on the data.
Previous studies will remain available:
2016 Escape Room Industry Growth Study
2017 Escape Room Industry Growth Study
Add Date vs Open Date
As noted in the methodology piece, we track the date that we added a company to the map. We try to update the directory at least once a week, but the data is skewed slightly because our travel schedule dictates when we have more or less time to focus on directory updates.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed knowledge this year!
Please continue to let us know when you open, close, or move a facility. Please continue to let us know when there are changes to the escape room facilities in your area. You are our eyes and ears for the areas we haven’t yet visited.
We owe an enormous “thank you!” to Melissa from Connecticut who works tirelessly to help us keep this escape room data up to date. Her meticulous tracking enables us to continually provide this level of detail and accuracy. She is an invaluable member of the directory upkeep team. Escape room owners in New England will know her as half of the “Marvelous Miller” duo.
When we started this directory in 2014, it seemed reasonable to compile this information in a Google Sheet and Google Map. The data outgrew that format long ago. We know the functionality isn’t ideal for the current user base. We are working on a new engine and interface that we hope to release later this year.
Thank you to Melissa from Connecticut for her unwavering dedication to the REA directory.
Thank you to our good friend Jason for building us tools to better track the escape room industry.
Thank you to our good friend Chris, once again, for his enormous help bending Microsoft Excel to our will.
The study of the growth of this industry here is quite impressive, and it tells me a lot of intriguing things. I think that this year will be the peak of this industry, and after that, there won’t be any growth, and it will just fall.
Two thoughts here:
1. I think that depends upon how you define growth. We are tracking the number of facilities, and that number isn’t swelling like is has because the expense, skill, and effort needed to produce a competitive escape room company in 2019 dwarfs that of 2016.
But long term, the real key is growth in player numbers and that’s the true growth. It’s also very difficult to track at the moment.
2. This is one business cycle that we’re in. We don’t know what the future holds, so I won’t predict more than a couple years into the future.
Wow! That’s a very informative article. I had no idea before that this industry was developing so actively. That’s great news because I know some friends who own an escape room in Canada. I’ll share your wonderful article with them – it will be useful to read it).
I’m glad you found this article useful. There is a more updated one available now here: https://roomescapeartist.com/2019/08/08/5-year-us-escape-room-industry-report-august-2019/
And if you find this type of thing interesting, you’ll find a lot to love at RECON, our escape room industry conference taking place in Boston in August. Please tell your escape room owner friends to check in out: https://www.realityescapecon.com/
This year, probably, the industry will sag strongly( And all because of the coronavirus…
In terms of number of facilities, the industry has past the current growth peak, and the growth trend has flattened. We talked about the trends at length in our 2019 analysis (see link above). But yes, we do expect coronavirus economic effects will be significant, especially for the companies that were already suffering from instability.
I’m commenting in August 2021 and this information is SO valuable! Thank you, Lisa, for all the intense work out into this report.
This is great to hear. You’re very welcome!