For participants, the magic of the escape room depends on maintaining the illusion that you are, indeed, trapped inside a strange environment.
Even as adults, we love to play pretend. We suspend our disbelief for just long enough to imagine we are trapped explorers or people from other times.
And then we work together to free ourselves.
But what happens when a group of escape room goers gets a little too into playing pretend? It seems there is no limit to the lengths they'll go to get the heck out of there.
Redditor Curse_the_food asked:
"Escape room operators, what was the weirdest thing you've seen a group do?"
Many Redditors talked about the very gross things that happened. What is it that makes full-grown adults feel the need to spill their bodily fluids within the span of an hour?
"My daughter managed an escape room that had a toilet prop that moved away from the wall to reveal a hidden passage to crawl through after using clues to open it."
"Guests were informed that the toilet was inoperable. There was a note on the toilet stating not to use it. There was even a key hidden in the toilet."
"Someone peed in the toilet daily. They then had to fish the key out of their and crawl through a puddle of it to complete the game. Daily."
No Escaping a Hangover
"First clients of a morning, a player arrived wearing sunglasses inside, and ended up throwing up in the room. I made her boyfriend clean it up."
"A woman talking into an old (very obviously prop) shoe like it's a phone, hoping she'll hear clues."
"A group starting a game of ouija and waiting to hear voices instead of looking at the clues on the board. I went and shouted nonsense through their door."
Pee In All the Wrong Places
"A guy once proposed in the escape room I worked at, it was very cute, he had us put the ring in a treasure chest, and proposed on one knee when she opened the box."
"On a less nice note, I've had men pee in the corner of the room before/pee in the toilet with the door open, which was super awkward as the office is next to the toilet, at the end of a long corridor, which means I had to watch them do this whilst walking to the control room"
Didn't Factor That In
"A couple booked a private room in my facility and they showed up with a baby. They told me they couldn't get a babysitter so they wanted to play as the baby was in their baby carrier."
"I ended up accepting ; after all, nothing bad could happen, right ? The baby wouldn't be able to break anything in the room."
"What I did not expect is that the mother casually changed the baby diaper on the room's table, on the props."
"I threw everything away after that."
Others talked about the times that romance and relationship drama made its way into the escape room. Sometimes, pretend stress turns into real stress in a matter of seconds.
Doesn't Seem Very Comfortable
"Not exactly 'weird' but we've had several groups (couples) decide to hook up in our rooms, seemingly forgetting that every corner of the place is covered by cctv..."
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The Last Straw
"Breakups. You wouldn't believe the amount of long term relationships I've seen go to a head and become destroyed but just being in a locked room with puzzles."
"When I joined this company, they were the first in the city, and we were in an odd location that could be hard to find, so company policy was to call patrons who were 10min. late. We called this person, and it was a very agitated woman who didn't know who or what we are, and after confirming the booking name/number she snarkily told us that was her husband and we weren't something he'd be doing."
"We were polite and started to do some cleaning since we thought the booking was cancelled when the group showed up, acting jovially with the guy who booked it being very handsy with one woman. We confirmed the name on the reservation and mentioned that we just called and thought there might've been a cancellation. After confirming the number, the guy's face went white."
"We get the event started, with further PDA showing they were a couple. They win, we offer team photo. The guy did not want to participate in the photo, and had to be convinced by his entire team to jump in. Right before the flash went off, he dropped his head to hide his face. We figured out he was with his side-chick."
Finally, some shared the truly bizarre, unique, and hilarious memories they have from the job.
"We had this group of 3, the theme was an abandoned subway station. We had some flashing lights so they would see something but I forgot to switch the flip on when bringing them to the room..."
"They never ever, turned on the lights (the button was next to the door) and spent the whole hour in almost complete darkness, only using the metro carriage headlight to check every clue they had (they were doing very well so I didn't told them to turn the lights on)."
"Then, the same group spent at least 10 minutes reassembling a skeleton, arguing which bone would go where because they thought they saw some marks on the fake bones (still in almost complete darkness), after the skeleton was back in one piece they figured out it was useless and managed to find the final code and went out in time."
"Their main feedback was 'we really liked the darkness it made it a bit difficult to navigate and read the clues but the immersion was great.' We tried the room without lights a few more times afterwards on groups we thought would not be complete idiots and made some minor changes to accommodate (like making it easier to navigate without bumping your feet everywhere)."
"The lights off became the default setting in the end."
Needed a Little Nudge
"Group shows up in the dead of night, high as a kite. There was an elevator door in the room, opened by a code. They stand in a semicircle in front of the elevator for a solid 20 minutes before asking for a hint."
"I chime in through the microphone 'Have you opened the elevator yet?' Dead silence for half a minute before one of them asks 'Dude, you got an elevator in here?' "
The Man for the Job
"Not an operator but a friend of mine was telling me recently about one where the final clue to open the door was in a file on the desktop of a windows computer."
"He's a devops and security professional, so naturally he turns off this computer, boots it into safe mode, gains access to the command line, uses that to access the files on the desktop, and solves the whole room in <5 minutes. I think the group then did the whole room properly but were pretty smug about their record."
Trying to Turn the Tables
"Last group of the night, they were drunk and got frustrated so they stole a bunch of sh** our of the room, we didn't notice until they left. They emailed us with a treasure map to find where they had hidden all the pieces through downtown."
"I waited until 8am the next morning, called the cops and the cops showed up with the guy, very hungover and made him go get all the pieces. While he did that, I Google him found out what company he worked for contacted their HR and offered them a company discount. His company booked and I informed their HR department that their employee was banned from the facility."
"There was one escape room that gave us a huge keyring with a million keys early on. We'd already solved the lock it went to, but were struggling to finish the other puzzles. The key item we needed to end the game was behind a lock. So when we realized we were low on time, we had one person try every key on that ring just in case."
"Turns out one of the keys worked, but none of them were supposed to. The operator was super confused and asked us which key so he could take it off the keyring for the future. I'm pretty surprised nobody else had ever tried that."
Making Themselves Right At Home
"So, I managed this room that had a decorative dungeon-like area that was behind a closed gate that was screwed shut and wasn't meant to he opened."
"So one day, a group of slightly tipsy yet overall nice and polite middle-aged men come in to play. As always I instruct them about the rules and tell them the usual "Everything that must be opened can be done so without excessive force and use of outside-tools blah, blah, blah...". The game starts and at one point they seem to be stuck and unable to find the next clue. So they start flipping everything over and generally making a huge mess (nothing unusual)."
"I turned away from the monitor for literally a couple of minutes to go to the bathroom and when I came back I see that one of them has a mini pocket-sized tool kit with him, that he's used to screw open the dungeon gate and is now trying to take apart a piece of furniture, while another one has fully undressed the mannequin that was inside of the dungeon and put on it's "bloody" robe on himself."
"Needless to say, they did not find the exit key in time and the room had to be closed for the rest of the day, due to the damage they did. They were nice enough to apologize and offer to help with cleaning the place up, however, some of the stuff they broke, couldn't be repaired as easily."
Sounds Like a Good Time
"An operator told me once about this group that was very high. They game was supposed to start with them chained to the floor and trying to find a key in their reach."
"Apparently they stayed the whole hour sitting on the floor, looking at the ceiling and laughing for no reason. When the game was over they had to be unchained by the operator. They claimed they had the best time ever XD"
"I was in an escape room, we had gotten to the end and needed the password to a computer so we could open files on a flash drive (I don't remember why, it was something about bomb codes)."
"The laptop was a Chromebook, and since we were running out of time I rebooted it and logged in using my own Google account and got the files open. The operator told me no one had done that before so I was pretty chuffed."
So before you destroy a lock or pee in the corner of an escape room, remember that there is an employee watching you the entire time--and they're just trying to get through a shift.