“So how many rooms do you have for kids?” is a question we’re asked fairly frequently here at Entrap. Occasionally we also get phone calls about room content and difficulty in regards to bringing an X-year-old child or sometimes we’re just surprised by a children’s birthday party group. Any way you slice it, bringing kids to escape rooms is a popular idea, but depending on the children’s ages and personalities, it’s not always a great one.
To start, all of our rooms are designed to be for adults. While there are plenty of rooms that have themes that aren’t necessarily inappropriate for children, the difficulty level always had adults in mind. On the other hand, we have had plenty groups of minors go through and have a fantastic time in our rooms. So where does a parent or guardian draw the line?
As is states on our website, the cost of admission is for anyone ages 10 and older. The reason for that isn’t to give parents with children under 10 a nice break in cost; it’s because children under 10 really act as more of a hindrance than a help when going through an escape room. Children up to 12-years old, in fact, generally struggle to keep on task with our puzzles for a whole hour. Because of the adult-level puzzles, if youngsters don’t have an early success with something, they often lose interest which can set them back on time or even completely derail their ability to move forward in a room. That’s not to say a family with children can’t have fun as a group in any of our escape rooms. When there are fewer children than adults (or when the ratio is about even), groups can still have a great time puzzling things out together.
On the other hand, when you get into more middle school or high school-age, kids can even do better in certain rooms than adults. (As adults, we tend to over-complicate things, after all.) An escape room party can be a great activity for a group of high-schoolers or older middle-schoolers, as long as they want to be there and are motivated to do puzzles.
Another rule regarding minors on our website states that all minors (under 18) need to be accompanied by an adult in the room. There are a couple reasons behind this rule. The first is that with younger kids (say, a 10-year-old’s birthday party), we typically need an adult to watch the kids in the room and help keep them on task. Running a kids’ birthday party from our remote control room is what we as Game Masters like to call “herding cats.” The second reason is a liability one. If someone books a room for their teenager and a couple of their friends, we can’t allow them to go through the room alone if a second group of adults books as a second party in the room. There are a couple ways for parents to handle this. For younger kids, they can just be an in-room chaperone to help keep the kids focused on the task of escaping. For older kids, there is the option of booking a “private room,” which books out every empty seat for a lower price and guarantees that no other groups can book in.
All in all, the best way to judge whether kids will have fun in an escape room is to take it on a case-by-case basis. Think about each underage participant and figure out whether they will enjoy using their brain to figure out challenging puzzles and whether an activity like that will be able to hold their attention for up to an hour. Just like with many adult guests, escape rooms can be a lot of fun, but they’re not always for everyone.