Sometimes 15 minutes alone in the car with kids can seem like an hour, especially when they’re in the back seat fighting or asking “are we there yet?” So why would a parent choose to lock themselves in a tiny room with their children? Well, to figure out how to escape, of course.
Escape rooms are the latest entertainment craze for those brave enough, clever enough, and not too claustrophobic to take on the challenge. Up to 10 participants get “locked” in a thematic room with a compelling story line such as finding your way off an island, out of a mysterious location, or escaping before falling victim to a terrible curse. The group has up to an hour to find and solve clues hidden literally anywhere in the room and free themselves. Clues can be as simple as a color or a number; they can be in code; they can be subtly hidden in a picture or painting, on a piece of paper, in a decorative item in the room. A Game Master monitors all the action on video screen and is available to offer help upon request.
Read on for our our list of family-friendly escape rooms in NJ!
Of course, the challenge is what makes Escape Rooms compelling to older audiences. With many rooms, kids won’t understand references to cultural icons, historical events or other things that adults are more likely to key into, according to Marc Aronoff, an owner of Last Minute Escape. With his brother Greg, the Aronoffs operate escape rooms in Morristown, Wayne and Montclair. That said, kids are often good at the physical skill of finding clues. “Kids are really good at finding stuff. They look under things and in things. They look at everything in a more straight forward way and don’t read too much into things,” according to Shamiq Syed, owner of Puzzle Out in Hoboken. Game Master Justin Pellunat-Rodriguez at My Adventure Rooms agrees. "Kids are very tactile. They're good at finding physical clues and clues hidden in the environment."
Unlike many “in” activities, this one appeals to adults, singles, teens and even older kids as long as they’re with adult company. While many escape rooms are quite challenging and even scary with doomsday, zombie or apocalyptic themes, we’ve sought out some that can be fun for kids as young as 10 years old.
Last Minute Escape has one room at its Morristown location, three rooms at its Wayne location, and one room at its Montclair location. The most kid-friendly, according to Aschoff, is The Mayan Tomb in Morristown, which is best enjoyed by ages 12 and older. A fourth location, in Tom's River, is expected to open in July with a kid-friendly Atlantis-themed room.
My Adventure Rooms has three rooms at its Montclair location. According to Pellunat-Rodriguez, all three are similar in difficulty, but he suggests The Swiss Original for families with kids ages 14 and older.
Amazing Escape Room has six rooms at its Princeton location, five rooms in Freehold, and four rooms in Montclair. For families with kids age 10 and older, manager Heidi Neufeld suggests Case Closed and Hemingway in Freehold, Dorm Room and Time Travel in Princeton, and Crusaders Alley and Case Closed in Montclair. Additional locations in Cherry Hill, Paramus, Bridgewater, and Red Bank will be opening later this year. This summer, Amazing Escape Rooms will modify rooms at all of its New Jersey locations so that they're suitable for ages 10 and older, making them inviting for camp groups, according to manager Neufeld.
Puzzle Out currently operates one room in Hoboken which can be enjoyed by families with kids ages 10 and older. Shamiq and his brother Shahed plan to open a second location, with two rooms, in Jersey City, this summer.
Top image via Shutterstock.