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How Escape Rooms Work

Escape Rooms: Before You Go
Clue-solvers try to think their way out of a Washington, D.C., escape room game.
Clue-solvers try to think their way out of a Washington, D.C., escape room game.
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

And while escape rooms have spread from Asia to Europe, North America and beyond, the basic concept has remained the same: Teams of players are placed in a room where they have to unravel a series of puzzles in order to solve a problem. Outside of that, though, anything goes. Specifics like cost, the number of players allowed, theme and puzzles vary widely from place to place. Luckily, most escape room venues have websites that can help you plan your visit ahead of time, but just in case, here are a few things to know before you go.

The cost to play an escape room varies based on the venue and how that venue charges its customers. For those where each person pays admission, the average cost worldwide equates to $23.68 [source: Nicholson]. In the United States you can see the range of prices at a place like Escape the Room in New York City, which charges $28 per person, compared to The Room in Hutchinson, Kansas, which only charges $15. Other venues charge per team, and in that case, the average cost goes up to $74.42 [source: Nicholson]. Expect to pay much more at places like EscapeSF in San Francisco, which charges $139 to $149 for a team of two to five players.

Like the cost, the number of players allowed in a room is different depending on where you go. The worldwide average is 4.58, but escape rooms in North and South America tend to allow more players, with an average capacity of 6.07 [source: Nicholson]. Of the examples listed above, EscapeSF boasts the smallest limit, five, followed closely by The Room at six [source: EscapeSF, The Room]. If you go to Escape the Room, though, they'll allow as many as 10 players per room [source: Escape the Room]. Oh, and one other thing: Some venues will give your group an entire room to itself, while others will put groups together until the room is full. If that's the case, be ready to make some new friends — fast.

So if you've got money and friends, the only thing left is to buy the tickets. While some venues allow you to buy tickets at the door, you're probably better off reserving them ahead of time. Most escape room businesses have websites with an online purchasing system, and that's a better way to go than driving all the way to the venue only to find out they're booked!