2017 | Entertainment & Events

Rockville Panic Room Opens off Rockville Pike

Entertainment center will offer five escape scenarios for users

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Andrew Ma stands in the lobby of Rockville Panic Room.

Joe Zimmermann

A new business in Rockville gives customers a chance to sneak out of class detention, find a way out of a locked cabin, and, in coming months, even make their way through a zombie apocalypse.

Rockville Panic Room, an escape-room game facility that offers a number of puzzle scenarios for groups to figure their way out of, opened Feb. 11 off Rockville Pike. The venue, part of a popular new trend in entertainment centers, joins other in the Washington, D.C., region.

The rooms, each with a different theme, provide a scenario that group members have to work through together. Groups find a series of clues within their chosen room that will help them to unlock the door within the hour time limit.

“You’re in detention, your teacher’s coming back in an hour and you want to split,” said Andrew Ma, chief operating officer for the company, describing the detention room. “How do you get out?”

Participants have to solve logic puzzles, figuring out whether certain items—such as a projector or chemistry beakers—will provide hints for their escape.

Other rooms offer less familiar situations, such as an upcoming prison break room and a zombie apocalypse room. Only two rooms—the detention room and a cabin fever room—are currently open, although the facility expects to have five rooms available, each with different levels of difficulty, in the coming months, Ma said.

A bear and a desk with a locked box in the cabin fever room.

The detention room comes complete with student chairs and school equipment.

Rockville Panic Room is the first East Coast branch of Texas Panic Room, which has six locations in Texas. Ma said the company plans to open three more venues in the Washington, D.C., area, including a possible branch in Germantown.

The Rockville location has three employees and has worked with students studying gaming from Montgomery College and the University of Baltimore to design the logic puzzles in each room.

Ma, a Bethesda resident, said the company saw Montgomery County as an open market for escape rooms. While the area has several activity-based entertainment centers for younger kids, there aren’t many options for high schoolers or young adults who want to go somewhere for an afternoon to have fun, he said. The venue has served about 80 customers since opening, but expects to see more as awareness grows, Ma said.

Rockville Panic Room is best for groups of about eight to 10 people, he said. Bookings have to be made four hours in advance on the company’s website, and the cost is $30 per person for an hour—the time allotted to complete one room.

The facility also offers party packages for birthdays or company retreats, Ma said.

“This is an icebreaker,” Ma said. “You kind of are under pressure, so you can see how people act. … It’s team-building.”

Rockville Panic Room is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Rockville Panic Room, 12009 Nebel St., texaspanicroom.com/rockville