Aren’t Escape Rooms just year-round Haunts?
Written by: The Bat
So, my readers, have you ever wondered why I choose to run a blog about both haunted attractions and escape rooms?
There are a couple of reasons. The first one is that they are both huge parts of my life and my story. I have worked in a haunted attraction for over 15 years and have visited so many in my life I have lost count. Back in high school, my friends always trusted my choice of the scary and macabre over anyone else in our group or anyone in my smallish town. I knew that, by the start of October, everyone would be asking me where to go that year for the best scare. And, like the know-it-all I was, I had my research done.
Of course, while it would have been my dream to work in a haunted attraction year-round, that is not an option around here. So in 2017, I picked the next best thing. I started working for an escape room. I got to help with set building, introduce guests to the experience, set the scene, and keep them immersed. It was like a dream come true, and I became obsessed with escape rooms too.
I went into them knowing they had things in common. The research billed escape rooms as a “sister” to haunted attractions, and a lot of escape rooms were supposed to scare you as well. But they have a lot more in common than most people think.
They’re Twinsies! Ugh, They Have Similarities
The main similarity is that both escape rooms and haunted houses are immersive experiences. To break that down, it means you are supposed to lose yourself, enter an imaginary world for a while. Leave the real world behind. A well-built set and you being willing to suspend disbelief can give you the ability to not think about the world outside, full of bills and homework, for the time you are there and hopefully for a bit after.
The feelings that an escape room and a haunted attraction bring also have similarities. People go in feeling excited or nervous. They are entering a world they haven’t seen, being “locked away” and faced with various challenges. Whether the challenge is defeating a puzzle or not screaming like a child in front of your friends and running away, they bring the same adrenaline rush beforehand for many people.
But, you ask, why would someone pay to be scared or locked up?
Dragon: Because it’s fun!
This lies in the basics of the catharsis effect. You enter knowing that you are safe, that no one can really hurt you.
Dragon: So the 5+ “Escape Room” titled movies lied?
Then when you leave, the mind chemicals, neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are activated. So you get a sense of natural high. Then you leave feeling one of two things: relieved or triumphant.
Either way, these are feelings that will keep you buzzing for hours. And that is why people keep coming back to escape rooms or haunts (and also scary movies, which is why I review those too.)
Similar Yet Different
Of course, escape rooms are not haunted attractions, and haunted attractions are not escape rooms. There are a couple of key differences.
The types of scares used are one of them. An escape room is way too long to sustain the level of the scare of a haunted attraction. You cannot pop scare a guest continuously for an hour and expect it to continue to work, and for them to continue to be amused. You can, however, create a creepy or unsettling, or menacing vibe and throw in a pop scare or two.
A haunted attraction, on the other hand, is more like a roller coaster. Throw the emotions up and down with creepy and loud for a short period of time and leave the adrenaline pumping!
There is also the level of immersion available. Of course, in a haunted attraction, you do not leave the guests alone in the room or invite them to pick up and inspect the props. Although, there was an exception of sorts when it came to 17th Door as that was quite interactive. You definitely do not allow them to take things apart! So while it would be nice to say that both need an equal level of detail in their sets, technically an escape room should have a lot more, and be a lot more durable too!
All that being said, I know some of you, my readers, will choose to go to a haunted house over an escape room, and some will choose the other way round. And that is just fine, of course. But I hope you all will open your minds and give both a try because if you like escape rooms, you might just love haunts too. And if you love to be scared, you might just love the sustained tension of an escape room.
And, of course, I hope you won’t miss a good chance to escape reality!
Share your thoughts!