New Providence venue challenges groups to escape locked room

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By Kim Kalunian, WPRO News

A new type of amusement is coming to Rhode Island and it might be a bit puzzling to some people.

Escape Rhode Island is described as “a cooperative, real-life adventure space where nothing is as it seems.”

Founder Ethan Carlson said visitors are “trapped” in a room and have 60 minutes to solve puzzles and use clues to try and escape. According to their website, it “will challenge your mind and confound your senses.”

Carlson said the “escape the room” trend originated in Japan, and made its way stateside a few years ago. Carlson has lived in Providence for three years and thought the city could use an escape the room venue of its own.


“I think it’s a great market,” said Carlson. “I think it’s really going to resonate with people here. It’s going to be quirky and fun. I think it really speaks to the creative community we have.”

Escape Rhode Island will take up space on the second floor of 385 South Main Street in Providence near Dave’s Coffee and Mile and A Quarter. Carlson hopes to open their doors on October 15 and is having a launch party on October 1 at neighboring Whiskey Republic.

Although the idea of being trapped in a room for an hour might not sound like fun to everyone, Carlson said it’s a family-friendly activity that’s not meant to be scary. He said after an hour, he’s legally required to let people out of the room, but not everyone is done solving the puzzles and gathering clues by that time. He said about 25 percent of teams actually finish the challenge.

Carlson said there’s no prize for escaping, but the experience itself is meant to be the draw. He said there will be a leaderboard in the lobby with the names of teams who finish in record time.

When Escape Rhode Island opens this fall, there will be two different games that visitors can play. Carlson said the challenges will change every two to three months so people can return and try their hand at something new. He also said they’ll be building a special challenge for corporate team building exercises.

Carlson said there are roughly 200 escape rooms across the U.S. including several in nearby Massachusetts.

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