Are you the parent of a surly, opinionated tween or teen who just is not that into pinatas anymore? Escape rooms could be the answer. They offer an adult-style challenge and a way to occupy young minds without any Youtube viewing at all.
Bonus: You the parent, won’t have to hear any complaining, or requests for a Hulu subscription or Takis, and you won’t have to make yourself heard over earbuds for at least an hour.
The idea is that your child and friends and a few adult chaperones are “locked” in a room with a cool theme (e.g. ancient Egypt? Space? Pirates?) and can only exit once they work together to follow the storyline, take on new roles, and crack open the mysteries presented to them. You get an hour at most escape rooms, and if you don’t solve it, you lose. (Most escape room venues don’t provide a party room, so you’ll have to plan the cake and pizza part separately.)
Intrigued? Itching to break free from a room? Here are some solid options in and around Seattle:
Ages: All ages, but it’s recommended that kids be about the same age so they can solve it together. (Contact the business directly for kids’ birthday party packages.)
Address: 3800 Aurora Ave. North, Suite 270, Seattle
Themes: Theater professionals and effects wizards created this site where you can explore various ancient, space and zombie themes.
In Enter the Machine, according to the company website,“You can battle the ancient Kraken cult as they try to summon aliens to eat us all.” In Captain Deadbeard’s Revenge, space and pirate themes are combined. There are also two humorous zombie games, Still Hungry and Trapped in a Room with a Zombie. You can play a version of these called Team vs. Zombie in which you are trapped in a room with a zombie chained to a wall. (Don’t worry — it’s reportedly an amusing zombie, though the object of the game is, well, to avoid it ending with the team being eaten.)
Number of players: A maximum of 8 to 12 spots are available for games, or as few as 4.
Price range: $30 a ticket and up
Will you have to play with strangers? Not if you book an entire session.
Time: One hour.
Ages: 12 and up (some exceptions made on request).
Address: 3131 Western Ave., Suite 422B, Seattle, WA 98121
Themes: There’s Rise of the Mad Pharaoh, in which you help free famed archaeologist Dr. Carter from a grave, and Tales of the Ghostly Galleon, where you have an hour to escape a ghost pirate ship’s curse. For ages 13 and up, there’s a more mature “Evil Dead 2” room, modeled on the bloody Sam Raimi schlock-horror-comedy classic. Acting and costumes encouraged.
Number of players: Pharaoh: 10 to 14 players (fewer can be arranged on request), 1 adult required for every 4 kids under 16. Galleon: 3 to 8 players
Price range: Starts at about $33 a person, $40 a player for “Evil Dead 2”
Will you have to play with strangers? No, the rooms are all private.
Time: 60 minutes (70 minutes for “Evil Dead 2”)
Ages: 11 and up, but if you’re 17 and under, you need a waiver signed by a parent or guardian. For kids under 12, a guardian must accompany the child. Kids under 11 may be allowed if the entire room is purchased.
Address: 4517 California Ave. SW, Suite B, West Seattle
Themes: This is a motion escape room place that covers most of the popular escape themes with the creepy 13th Floor, as well as a spacewalk on Trapped in Space, Spell Struck (in which you escape a coven of witches) and the underwater-search story Dive to Atlantis.
Number of players: 2 to 7
Price range: $32 for adults, $28 for kids ($35 and $32 for Dive to Atlantis)
Will you have to play with strangers? Yes, maybe, unless you purchase all the tickets in a room.
Time: 60 minutes, except for Dive to Atlantis, which is 70 minutes
Ages: All ages allowed. One adult required for every three kids under age 12.
Under 16 requires a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
Address: 2222 152nd Ave. NE, Redmond
Themes: Find a lost archaeologist in Ancient Egypt; invade dreams using military technology in Dream Traveler; escape from jail as you await a death sentence in Prison Escape, uncover a lost kingdom (and treasure) in Magic Wonderland, and see how you do orchestrating a major art theft in Museum Heist.
Number of players: 4 to 8 players. (In Magic Wonderland, it’s 4 to 6.)
Price range: $27 a player
Will you have to play with strangers? No. All bookings are private.
Time: 60 minutes
Ages: All kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Kids 10 to 14 must have an adult present in the game room. Minimum ages vary. Jurassic Island, Space War and The Wizarding School allow 8-year-olds and up, with an adult.
Redmond, 14700 NE 95th St., Redmond
Shoreline, 1207 N. 152nd St., Shoreline
South Lake Union, 511 Boren Ave. North, Seattle
University District, 4140 University Way NE, Seattle
Themes: The storylines vary by location, and include everything from retrieving a T. Rex egg to defeating vampires by learning their history to helping Thor fight giants, as well as doing research to unravel the Da Vinci Code.
SLU: Game of Kings, Jurassic Island, The Wizarding School, Space War
U District: Da Vinci, The Castle
Redmond: Dracula, Thor, Bank Heist, Pirates in the Caribbean
Shoreline: VR Escape, National Treasure, Mad Scientist
Number of players: Groups between 4 and 6 people. There are also options for larger groups and greater amounts of time.
Price range: From $30 a person
Will you have to play with strangers? No. All rooms are private.
Time: One hour.
More birthday party ideas: 150+ birthday party picks for families around Seattle