The Harbinger Online

Breaking Out Of Breakout KC


I never thought I’d be paying $28 to be locked in a room for an hour. But there I stood in the waiting room of Breakout KC, excited – and a little bit nervous – for my turn to breakout.

Breakout KC lies inside the walls of an old brick building in the River Market, and is open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Soaring with success, they have received only positive reviews. Reservations fill up a week in advance and it offers a team building experience unlike any other in the city. Breakout KC has also been voted as KC’s number one tourist destination by Trip Advisor, Yelp and Facebook.

It was 5:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday, one of the few available slots I could make a reservation for. A friend and I had been paired with a family of five to attempt our breakout in the River Quay Casio Room, one of four available room choices. With its 30 percent success rate, our chances of success were not looking good. We would have 60 minutes to solve clues in an attempt to break out of our locked room.  

The seven of us stood in the small red room loaded with poker chips and casino slots. The large TV hanging on the wall played a video explaining that a gambler had just stolen poker chips, and we needed to begin collecting green chips in order to breakout and solve the crime.

Collect green chips? I looked around the room and saw green chips with different numbers written on them scattered everywhere, but I had no idea what those numbers could mean. Nevertheless, we began grabbing chips, pulling on locks and rummaging through drawers to find any clue as to what we were supposed to do next.

A supervisor was constantly watching us through the four video cameras located at every corner of the room, sending us hints via the TV at any time.  We had three free hints, and every hint after would cost us three of our sixty minutes. It was only 10 minutes in when we asked for our first hint.

After receiving our first hint, we finally got rolling. Although I cannot reveal details of the room, we were unlocking one combination after the next, sorting through poker chips and solving riddles to unlock the next clue. But then disaster struck.

With just ten minutes left on the clock, a ten-year-old girl from our group entered an incorrect combination into the safe we were trying to unlock, and the safe locked us out for five minutes. We were stuck twiddling our thumbs wondering what to do next as we sat there waiting.

Once the seemingly endless five minutes were up and we had unlocked the safe, it was a mad dash to crack the code and breakout. The TV was counting down the seconds we had left and the keypad next to the door was begging to be opened.  We were so close, but fell short. We did not breakout.

Despite our failure to breakout, my friend and I still left Breakout KC laughing and reminiscing over the fun hour we had just had. It was nice to put our phones away and spend 60 minutes plotting and scheming – even if it wasn’t successful.

Most teams who succeed in breaking out do so with only minutes to spare. The record time in all of the rooms, so far, is 47 minutes.

The concept of “breaking out” of a room originated in Southeast Asia five years ago, after much popularity in live action escape online games and apps.

Co-owners of Breakout KC and KU alums, Lucas Thompson, Matt Baysinger and Ryan Henrich knew they wanted to invest in Kansas City and make it a place where, “people have a better story to tell” according to Henrich. So they brought the concept to KC. Since it opened in May, it has been skyrocketing with popularity.

I would strongly encourage anyone to go try and breakout – and see if you can do it in less than 47 minutes (or even 60). It is definitely a must-visit destination, whether it’s a family outing, a team bonding experience or a couple of friends looking for a good time. I promise you’ll leave with your adrenaline running and your mind racing, still thinking about that last clue. 

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