Subscribe




The Great Escape

The escape room craze hits Baltimore.

By Lydia Woolever - November 2016

The Great Escape

The escape room craze hits Baltimore.

By Lydia Woolever - November 2016

From left: Ashraf Afzal, Fahed and Asad Masood, and Dylan Kapoor founded Escape 45. -Photography by Christopher Myers

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

All work and no play can make being an adult kind of dull, and that’s the idea behind escape rooms, the latest rage for grownup fun. The team-building activity is bigger than trust falls and icebreakers; instead, you get locked into a room with friends, family, co-workers, or complete strangers and work together to escape in an allotted amount of time.

Open since February in the heart of Mt. Vernon, Escape 45 is Baltimore City’s first escape room, the brainchild of Johns Hopkins University graduate Ashraf Afzal and University of Maryland, College Park, students Dylan Kapoor and Asad and Fahed Masood, who are also brothers. Here’s how it works: In one of three rooms—the Lighthouse, the Jewel Heist, or Sully’s Haunted Cabin—groups of two to eight participants must find clues, solve puzzles, and crack riddles to break free in 45 minutes or less.

But why would anyone volunteer to be locked in a room with someone, let alone their family or co-workers? “It’s a new activity and different way of interacting with each other,” Afzal says. Posits Asad, “What else do adults get to do, besides go out to restaurants and bars?” “And of course there’s the adrenaline rush when you actually get out,” adds Fahed, with a smile.

For these reasons, Escape 45 has grown quickly in popularity over the last nine months, garnering as many as 40 groups a day, including big corporations like Under Armour and M&T Bank. And it’s not alone: Since its launch, several other escape rooms have opened nearby, from Power Plant and Federal Hill to Towson and Timonium. The region’s first opened in Catonsville last fall.

Though the rooms range in difficulty, Escape 45’s founders agree that the key to escape is communication. “I’ve seen people who look like geniuses who can’t get out and it all boils down to one thing—how effectively they communicate,” says Asad. “It’s that whole ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ kind of thing.”

In the end, if a group runs out of time, Escape 45 enters the room and shows them what was missed. “They have all sorts of reactions,” says Afzal. “Some are happy, angry, shocked.” But if they succeed, there is a prize on the other side. “Pride,” quips Fahed. Adds Asad: “And we have a Hall of Fame on Facebook.”





You May Also Like


MaxSpace

Review: The Post

Streep and Hanks, together at last!

MaxSpace

Review: Hostiles

Revisionist western features strong performances but drives home its theme of tolerance a bit artlessly.

On The Town

Best Valentine’s Day Parties for Every Relationship Status

Whether you’re celebrating with friends, family, or a significant other, here are our picks.


Arts & Culture

Deborah Hazlett Celebrates 20th Season at Everyman Theatre

The resident actress discusses her latest play "Long Day’s Journey into Night."

Arts District

Culture Club: The Cone Sisters, The Community Project, and the African-American Arts Festival

Our monthly roundup of openings, events, and news from the art world.

Arts District

BMA’s New African Art Exhibit Explores Humans’ Relationship With Birds

The earthy, exotic exhibit Beyond Flight is on display through June 17.

From left: Ashraf Afzal, Fahed and Asad Masood, and Dylan Kapoor founded Escape 45. -Photography by Christopher Myers

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Speedskater Thomas Hong Will Represent Maryland in Winter Olympics: In his first-ever Olympics, Hong returns to his home country of South Korea.

Amy Sherald Unveils Portrait of Michelle Obama: The Baltimore artist was celebrated this morning at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Open & Shut: Lost City Diner; Donut Alliance; Bravo Restaurant: The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Park and Perk Hits the Streets Offering Zeke’s Coffee: Matthew Fouse puts local spin on a vintage Italian coffee cart.

Local Teen Owen Pereira Wins $50,000 Grand Prize on Top Chef Junior: We follow-up with the eighth-grader as he looks toward the future.