Escapology brings 8 high-tech escape rooms to National Harbor

The escape room experience has evolved since they first started gaining popularity about a decade ago. (Courtesy Escapology)
Escape rooms are drawing crowds again after being sidelined by pandemic shutdowns, and a new escape venue recently opened at Maryland’s National Harbor.

Escapology is actually eight themed escape rooms designed for up to eight players each.

The escape room experience has evolved since they first started gaining popularity about a decade ago.

“At that time, it was a lot of enthusiasts building escape rooms for enthusiasts. There were a lot of simple puzzles and padlocks and things of that nature,” said Mark Shaffer, who owns the Escapology franchise at National Harbor, and another one in Fairfax, Virginia.

“Now, it is like you’re walking onto a movie set. It is a high-end experience with a lot of tech. Everything runs through a computer now.”

The National Harbor Escapology’s rooms include an Indiana Jones run, a “Mansion Murder” and a pirate ship, as well as Warner Bros.-themed rooms such as “Batman” and “Scooby-Doo.”

Players collectively work as a team to solve the clues needed to get out of the room within 60 minutes. But if they don’t find the clues, they won’t be forgotten about.

“Well you’re never stuck. You’re never locked in. There is a control room behind the scenes. There are cameras and microphones in the room so we can monitor their progress. And if they ever get stuck, they can press a button on the wall which requests a clue, and the clue is set to a screen in the room,” Shaffer said.

Advance bookings for the National Harbor location are about $50 per person.

The National Harbor Escapology, at 230 American Way in Oxon Hill, employs about 25 people.

Orlando-based Escapology was founded in 2014, and has grown to 70 locations worldwide, both company-owned and franchised. There is another Escapology location in Bethesda.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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