As you try more and more escape rooms, you'll inevitably find yourself in both private escape rooms and public escape rooms. A public escape room is an escape game where you buy a ticket per person and are paired with other individuals who bought tickets for that same time slot. A private escape room is an escape game where you purchase admission for a whole group either at a flat rate or a tiered rate and no strangers can join your time slot.
At Quicksand Escape Games, we offer private escape games with tiered pricing (the price per person decreases as you bring more people). We dipped our toes in public games early on but made the switch to private escape rooms and never looked back.
Public escape rooms can be great experiences but they can also be very not-great experiences. Our sentiments are likely similar to others who have played both private and public, while public games can be fine, we've never met a customer who preferred being paired with strangers to their own private game if/when given the choice.
Common public escape room problems:
- Matched with very experienced players as an inexperienced player
- Matched with very inexperienced players as an experienced player
- Matched with very large groups or families as a couple or small group
- Matched with young children
- Matched with...unpleasant people
- Matched with two, three or even four different groups in one room
- Matched with drunk people
- Expecting to be matched up with more people in a difficult room and finding you're the only one booked
And the list goes on. Perhaps you can luck out and get matched with your future best friends but you probably have a better chance at one of the scenarios above. With a private escape room, you choose your team and you know exactly what you're getting.
We'd never rule out a few public escape rooms on our schedule, but generally speaking, private is preferred. You'll feel more comfortable communicating with each other without having to worry about being polite. You know each other's strengths and weaknesses. You'll end up working faster and smarter, and ultimately have a better chance at escaping!
At Quicksand Escape Games, we use the term "pre-solve" to describe when a player comes up with a well thought out theory about an eventual next step. You may figure out exactly what you need to do, but don't yet have the tools or final piece of the puzzle to complete it. When you do find that final piece, you will be well on your way. When pre-solving, be sure not to lose sight that a theory is a theory and don't get too hung up on something too long.
Did you just find a 2"x2" red ball with two blue dots on it? Tell everyone. Maybe that's exactly what your teammates have been waiting to find. It may seem like overkill but communicating what you've done and what you've found can save the team precious time in an escape room. It also prevents some teammates from spending time with items or puzzles that have already been solved. The better you communicate, the more cohesive and cooperative your escape room team becomes.
Always have your teammates' backs. Everyone makes mistakes, right? Borrowing from the first tip, don't assume your teammate is infallible. Whether it's double-checking a drawer or shelf or double-checking a combination/code you solved, don't hesitate to confirm what a teammate has told you. It may seem inefficient at times but too often a teammate will mishear the code they were tasked with inputting or excitedly forget to keep searching after finding a clue in a particular spot.
Don't Ignore Hints
Though different escape rooms in San Diego and across the globe have different methods and rules on hints, they all offer them in some way. When you ask for and/or receive a hint, don't ignore it. Unless the moderator is trying to waste your time, which would be pretty lousy, hints are given when they are given to push you towards a next step. While its always more fun to get it on your own, taking hints helps you progress and see more of the escape game, which is the best part.
Feel like you could take on any escape room now? Check out our schedule for the next available escape room at Quicksand Escape Games.
Do you have kids? Have you been hearing about escape rooms but haven't had a chance to try them because you have kids at home? Or maybe it's your kids that have been nagging you to bring them to an escape room? Either way, you're in luck!
All of our escape games are family friendly, meaning you can bring your kids with you to play. We recommend kids ages 12 and up, but we have had plenty of younger kids play with their families. We've had a few 9 and 10 year olds finding clues quicker than their parents and solving puzzles that seem to stump the others. We've had some 4 year olds who don't contribute as much to the puzzle solving but they certainly share in the escape room excitement with their families. Teens, especially, have an absolute blast. While adults look for reasons why a solution to a puzzle won't work, kids are busy listing all the ways it can. It is truly remarkable how effective a good imagination can be for solving an escape room!
An escape room is a great way to disconnect from your phones, strengthen your communication, and make new memories as a family. We've had families come through who have done many escape rooms together, and look forward to the next one.
If you choose to bring your kids with you and you can allow them to have their own fun for a few hours. G3kids, a gymnastics and athletic gym for kids, is just one block away from us, at 934 Garnet Ave. They offer a special "Parent's Night Off" every Friday night from 6:00-10:00pm where you can drop your kids off at their open gym and the instructors provide structured games, movies, and pizza. Pick them up after your own game and dinner, and everyone has fun!
Kids or not, our escape rooms are a lot of fun. Hopefully we'll see you soon!
Do you love to travel? (We do.) Escape rooms are the perfect activity for those who travel a lot. We did a lot of traveling last year across the country, and found ourselves playing an escape room or multiple escape rooms in each city we visited.
Because you can only play each escape room once, eventually you will run out of games in your hometown. That's why traveling to different cities to play escape games in the next evolution of play. We try to play at least two escape rooms in each city we visit. It's a great, fun, activity to add to your schedule that doesn't involve eating or drinking. It takes only an hour or so of your time, so you can still fit in (...take a break from...) your parks, museums, or whatever spots called you to that city in the first place.
Being in the heart of San Diego's Pacific Beach neighborhood, we've had so many tourists visit us (have you seen the pins on our map?). We meet so many escape room addicts from Los Angeles that have exhausted all the escape rooms in LA and have ventured down south to hit us. It's also so great to see when we have visitors from all over the country/world that have played hundreds of escape games throughout the country/world that have found us to add to their list.
It's just as special when first time players find us on TripAdvisor and decide to give escape rooms a try. These newbies are so blown away that they can't wait to try all the ones in their hometown. Our favorite is when our visitors have so much fun playing one of our escape rooms that they book our other escape room immediately after or return the next day. We've been told that Quicksand has been the highlight of their San Diego vacation.
Keep in mind that some escape games in major cities, where there aren't many companies, fill up days in advance. So when you're planning your trip, make sure to check their schedule to reserve a spot that fits best with your busy itinerary.
We just came back from a quick getaway to Palm Springs where we played two rooms at Escape Room Palm Springs. Some of our favorites across the country have been The Escape Game in Nashville and Austin, and Trapology in Boston. We'll keep you posted on more of our favorites as we travel more and try new escape rooms. Hopefully when you visit Quicksand Escape Games, we'll be your favorite escape room in San Diego!
To say Pacific Beach, San Diego is going through a culinary renaissance may be a bit over the top but the quality of places to grab a great beer or delicious meal have increased significantly in just the past few years.
We know at Quicksand Escape Games how important the pre- and post- escape room meals are and below are some of the newest, best, most unique, places for grub in our neighborhood.
These are just a handful of our newest favorites and do not include all the great places near us at Quicksand Escape Games.
From humble beginnings dating back to 1885, Pacific Beach has grown into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in San Diego. Along with Mission Beach, the area boasts one of the longest beaches on the west coast.
A lot has changed since 1885. With each passing day Pacific Beach renews itself with new things to do, places to visit, and restaurants to try. We started Quicksand Escape Games in order to be part of the in-progress positive change to the community and provide the neighborhood with a friendly complement/alternative to a day at the beach or a night at the bar.
Historically, Pacific Beach has hosted some unique activities that a current visitor or local may be surprised by. Some of the more notable attractions have included:
Today, there are less attractions like these in Pacific Beach as rents have increased and the neighborhood is thriving on it's outdoor activities like surf lessons, bike rentals and Segway tours as well as its huge, varied selection of places to get food and drink. Check out or other article to read more about some of the best restaurants in Pacific Beach.
With two escape rooms open in Pacific Beach and a third slated to open by the end of the Summer, we at Quicksand Escape Games hope we can become Pacific Beach's next Roxy Theater or "Pleasure Pier". A place to get out of the sun for a little while and be entertained in between craft beers and ice cream cookie sandwiches.
At our escape rooms, our rooms are limited to eight people. For private groups, we hesitantly allow up to ten. While our rooms are larger in size than many other escape rooms in San Diego and can fit far more than 8-10 individuals, there is a limit to how many people can be active at once, no matter what room you're in.
Have you ever heard the joke, "How many BLANK does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Well imagine trying to cooperatively screw in a light bulb with 15 people. It's not only close to impossible to involve 15 people in the process, but it would be very unpleasant at the same time.
When escape rooms like us build rooms, we build them with a finite number of puzzles, theoretically aimed at a set number of people completing them all within an hour. There is certainly an optimal range. From our research, that sweet spot is 2-8 people. We've had some couples speed through our room and we've had groups of eight limp to the finish, but on average 2-8 is about right.
Escape room companies that allow 2-15 people in a room are doing you a disservice. Is it possible to design a single game (series of puzzles) that 2 or 15 people could solve while remaining active? If you've found one, let us know! If the room TRULY had enough puzzles in it to engage 15 people for 60 minutes, then there'd be no way for 2-8 people to come close to getting through it. Or, it's the opposite case. The escape rooms are designed for 2-8 people but companies pack in an extra seven heads for more revenue.
In other words, either the rooms are impossible for any small to medium size group or you have escape rooms where half of the participants are standing around doing nothing.
We at Quicksand Escape Games have played a lot of escape rooms and haven't found a game that keeps 12-15 people engaged. But imagine one existed. And further imagine that the company hosting the 12-15 person game is popular enough to fill 12-15 slots per session so that the difficulty level is just right each time. Got that image your head? Did you notice that there were clusters of 3 or 4 people working on different things at once? Hardly the collaborative team-building environment you hoped for when you booked the room for ~$400 for the hour.
We feel the best solution for hosting a group larger than 10 is to split up into two+ groups. At Quicksand Escape we've hosted corporate groups that have split up and done different experiences simultaneously and we have hosted back to back games of the same experience. Everyone gets to be involved. Everyone has a fun time. When you choose different games, it allows the opportunity for your group to return and swap rooms. When you choose back to back games, you are all able to debrief on the common experience. It allows you to still compare and contrast how you handled the same puzzle.
If we packed 15 of you in the room, there would be no common experience besides discomfort. Most participants wouldn't have a clue how the majority of puzzles were solved because they were in the opposite corner trying to remember if they fed their goldfish that morning. Imagine tying to watch a movie with 15 people, except you split into groups of 3, watch different parts of the movie and attempt to piece the story back together afterwards.
In conclusion, escape rooms are businesses and making money is key to staying afloat. But as profitable as it may be to squeeze in extra people, it wouldn't be fair to the participants or be true to the experience we intended to deliver.
There is a preconceived notion that escape rooms are scary. And some of them are. But the rooms at Quicksand Escape Games in San Diego are NOT scary! Woo-hoo!
This is what happens when we begin to tell people about our business:
- "It's an escape game."
- "What's an escape game?"
- "You're locked in a room and have an hour to esca---"
- [Eyes widen, Breath stops, Head shakes no] "No way, that's not for me."
- "No it's not scary though. It's fuuuun."
- [I'm not listening to you anymore. I don't care that you said it's not scary. Just like going to a haunted house is fuuuun. Ya right, I'm not stupid! How am I going to get out of this conversation? Just smile and say 'I'll think about it'...that DOES sound fun! 'I'll definitely go' (lie)...'my friend would love that, they'll definitely go'...'hey look, what's that?!...]
We get it. Scary sucks. We understand when someone tries to tell you that haunted houses are fun, when they're definitely not fun. We aren't a haunted house. We hate haunted houses. We've had nightmares after reading the synopsis to a scary movie. Therefore, we would never design a scary escape room.
Our themes are exciting, nostalgic, cute, fun, and definitely not scary. Do NOT think Saw or Taken. There will be no zombies chasing you, no being blindfolded, no creepy soundtrack. There will be a 1920s Speakeasy with jazz music and beer (not real beer)! There will a 1950s Diner with a jukebox and an old coke machine! And you will try to escape before the mob boss or the police arrive!
As for the "thrill" of our escape games? There may be screaming, there may be laughing, there may be jumping up and down. There will be adrenaline, suspense, and exhilaration. But the thrill doesn't come from a zombie chasing you or a supposed spirit in the room with you. It comes from discovering the clues and solving the puzzles. The thrill comes from racing the clock to be able to experience as many puzzles as you can in one hour. Kind of like when Ferris Bueller and Cameron try to experience as many activities as they can in one school day. When Ferris races his sister home at the end of the movie, that wasn't scary, it was fun!
Our rooms are designed for friends and families looking to have a good time, whether they are on vacation in San Diego, celebrating a friend's birthday, or with their coworkers for a team building event. We've had grandmothers in their 70s, young children, and everyone in between. And they all love it!
If you're looking for something different and fun to try, try an escape game with us. There's a reason we call our games "escape games" and not "escape rooms". No one wants to be locked in a room, unless it's with their awesome friends playing an awesome game.
Book a game now. Ferris would do it. Cameron wouldn't. Be a Ferris.
June Gloom in San Diego is no joke. We've lived in Pacific Beach for almost five years and most of the year, it's absolutely wonderful living on/at the beach. It's easy to forget how bad May Gray June Gloom is until it is May and June. Usually you think of clear blue sunny skies when you think of San Diego, but there's a certain phenomenon that occurs this time of year when the clouds take over.
Every morning you wake up to a dark gloomy marine layer over the ocean and beach towns. Every afternoon you wait and wait for it to break. It's hard to get out of bed, let alone go to the beach and be outside. Sometimes you yearn for sun so badly you consider driving down the 8 for some rays, then you laugh at yourself for considering driving down the 8, partly because you don't have the motivation to go anywhere because of the June Gloom, and partly because it's driving down the 8.
Sometimes May Gray June Gloom becomes No Sky July and Fogust, and before you know it, it's Autumn and football is starting and you realize you never really went to the beach this summer. Anyway, if you find yourself in this position as a local or if you booked a vacation to San Diego this time of year without knowing about the local weather, you may be looking for an activity to escape the gloom.
Escape games are perfect for that! They are played indoors with no windows so you will have no idea how unsunny it is in the outside world. Get your games in now so you won't feel bad about being indoors when the sun actually returns. Or if you're visiting "sunny" San Diego, you can still be able to post a picture of you having a good time on vacation. Who knows? You may even walk into the game out of the gloom, and walk out of the game into sunshine! And that's the power of escape games!
Book The Speakeasy and/or The Diner now to escape the gloom!
Have you played an escape game before? If so, you may have come across the following personalities on your team. Or you may be one of them! Are you a first timer? Which one do you think you'll be?
1. The Vet
These are the players that have done 10, 20, 50, 100+ games. They've seen a lot of puzzles and aren't afraid to tell you exactly how to play the game, or that this must be something and that is definitely nothing.
2. The Hint Fiend
These folks just want to win, even if that means having the escape game's moderator tell them everything they need to know. They can be found repeating their mantra of "We Need a Hint!" before trying to think about a solution or search for a clue.
3. The Clock Watcher
How much time is left to escape? The 'Clock Watcher' knows! She or he will make sure the rest of the group knows how much longer you have, at the sacrifice of helping to solve any of the puzzles. They'll probably be found in the corner or worse, in the way, staring at the timer.
4. The Clue Hoarder
This escape room teammate wants to escape...but as long as he or she is the one to save the day. Missing that final piece of the puzzle? Where did that cipher go? Check the 'Clue Hoarder's' pockets, as they probably found it 10 minutes ago and didn't tell anyone.
5. The Last Minute Hero
Similar to the 'Clue Hoarder', the 'Last Minute Hero' is in it for the glory. But instead of withholding information, this person simply waits until the puzzle is solved, grabs the lock, and triumphantly announces "I got it!" as they input the code that the rest of the team just figured out.
6. The "I Didn't Listen to Any of the Rules" Guy
"Don't take anything off the walls." (Immediately removes everything from the walls.) "No need to move the furniture." (Stacks the furniture in the corner.) "Nothing needs to be forced." (Breaks everything.)
7. The Director
This escape room commander typically stands in a central location, where clues are being collected, and makes sure everyone else is carrying out their ideas. They'll shout things like "Check the cabinet!" and "Bring that here."
8. The Admin
This escape room player keeps the clues organized, knows what locks are left, does the math if needed, and is probably the one who booked the escape game for everyone.
9. The Guesser
"Try 1-2-3-4!" "Why?" "I dunno..." With little thought, they shout random numbers to keep things interesting and maybe one day, in some escape room, somewhere, it will work!
10. The Re-Run
These optimists don't quit. They can be found searching in the same spots over and over again. Nothing in that drawer the first time you checked? Maybe if you check four more times, something will turn up.
11. The Quiet Observer
This silent escape room participant isn't there for the glory, to show-off, or even escape...in fact, they aren't really sure what is going on.
Which one are you? Book now and find out. If we missed an escape game personality, let us know in the comments.