How to make escape rooms fun for the whole family

Turn up the fun for the entire family with these helpful escape room tips.

Ready for an adventurous outing with the entire family? Check out an escape room—and get the whole gang involved in this brain-teasing, adrenaline-packed experience.

Escape rooms are themed rooms, complete with timed puzzles and challenges you have to solve in order to win. They’re fun and challenging, and can help your crew learn to work better together.

If you want to know more before you go, take some of these tips from parents and escape room enthusiasts.

Plan ahead for a better experience

Mom and escape room enthusiast Lisa Sansom suggests you explain what an escape room is to your kids before you go.

“Show them videos, and explain that there are puzzles to solve and that you might not get it all right,” Sansom says. “Maybe do some practice puzzles at home—matching, counting, whatever is age appropriate for your kids. Help them to build their skills to solve puzzles and think creatively.”

Plan to arrive early, too, Samson advises. This way, you’ll have ample time to ask questions after the staff explains how the experience works. You might even find some practice puzzles in the lobby to get your gears moving in the right direction before you go in.

Kelly Rupiper has a 6-year old and a 9-year-old. She agrees that planning ahead is key. “Because escape rooms can be quite challenging, even for adults, and can include elements that are scary or dark, call the business before booking and ask them to recommend their most kid-friendly rooms,” she suggests.

Another thing to remember: The number of people allowed in each escape room can vary, and businesses may combine parties to fill a room. If you want to avoid this, book a room your party will fill to capacity.

Stop for a second and look around

Entering an escape room might be a little nerve-racking for some kids, since challenges are usually timed. You may have only an hour to navigate through various challenges that ensure your escape.

Some family members might be ready to jump right in and start tearing the room up for clues. But once you’re on the clock, stop for a minute, take a step back and check out your surroundings. Before you start moving things around, take mental notes of everything you see.

“Set an easy goal,” Sansom suggests. “Like, let’s just find one clue and see if we can make it work. Look, here’s one lock. Let’s see if we can open it.”

After some practice, Sansom and her family have found a strategy that works best for them. “We do a lot of divide and conquer,” she explains, “with everyone checking out different things, coming together to compare notes, then dividing up again.”

Collaborate with your entire crew

Solving an escape room challenge is all about working together. It’s designed to promote teamwork.

Want to make sure the whole family feels included and has fun? Help everyone get in on the action.

Stacy Caprio loves taking her kids to escape rooms. She suggests going out of your way to get people involved. “The younger participants will feel jaded and left out if they never get the chance to find or figure out any of the clues,” she says. “It’s important to go out of your way to involve everyone, even if that means sacrificing some of the glory you would have received.”

The owner of Escape Room Family, J.W. Wolterman, agrees. “If you are taking your family to an escape room, I would recommend that everyone understands it’s a team effort,” he says. “The only way you will succeed is through communication and teamwork.”

Listen and pay attention to the details

With tensions high and time running out, you might find some in your family inclined to tune out when focused on a single puzzle (you’ll need to solve several to beat most escape rooms).

Listen to each other, and try to stay calm.

If you decide to split up to solve several puzzles at once, let the others know once you’ve solved something—and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you can’t crack the code.

“Escape rooms are often great for kids, because they  naturally think outside the box and will try to make disparate objects work together in some way,” Sansom says.

If something starts taking too long, move on to another puzzle or switch with another family member. They might be able to catch a clue you kept overlooking.

Have fun and celebrate

Whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun! “Escape rooms are designed to be high-pressure experiences,” Wolterman says. Speed and efficiency are important, but enjoying your time together is the reason you’re there, right?

“Having fun is important to family relationships, and if your kids start kidding around, then maybe just go with it,” Sansom suggests.

And whether you escape with great success or fall short on time, Sansom suggests you go out for ice cream after. “Talk about the escape room, what you did well and the clues that you missed,” she says. You might find better ways to delegate challenges and—hopefully—beat your time!

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