Rise of the Escape Rooms

According to the website Room Escape Artist, there were 22 escape rooms in the United States at the end of 2014. By mid 2015, the number quadrupled to over 100. By the end of 2015, it quadrupled again to over 450. As of mid 2016, it had doubled to over 900! Who knows just how many there are as we approach the midpoint of 2017, but there is no denying the increasing popularity of this phenomena.

Case in point: when we first decided in February of 2016 to open Quandary – An Escape Room Experience in Wallingford, a Google search of escape rooms in Connecticut only revealed two: New Haven and Middletown. Since then – as of this writing – there are at least 16, ranging from large cities such as Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford to small towns such as Farmington, Torrington and Windham.

Historically, it would appear unclear who is first to be credited with the “discovery” of the escape room concept. Some attribute the inspiration to video games, with a Japanese company called SCARP transforming the concept to a personal, hands-on experience in 2007. It soon gained in popularity and eventually made its way to Europe. Others credit a Swiss science teacher, Gabriel Palacios, who formally created the idea in 2012. What is not in doubt is the fact that these activities are now found worldwide, and continue to spring up in the most unlikely of locations.

This has created a cottage industry of opportunity, with forward-thinking companies now offering to sell to escape room owners puzzles and props, software programs for running and managing escape rooms, advertising opportunities, customer merchandise, board game versions, and even the hosting of escape room owner conventions. It will be interesting to see how far along the concept goes, and what lies ahead as the escape room trend continues to develop, improve and evolve!

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