BIZNOTE: The Escape Artist to be West Seattle’s first ‘escape room’ venue

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Kristine Atri is a United States Air Force veteran who says not much scares her.

She in fact is a huge fan of “escape room” game venues.

So much so, that she’s opening the first one in West Seattle, where she and her husband live.

We talked with her today about The Escape Artist, which Atri expects to open this fall in three vacant spaces spanning about 2,500 square feet in the commercial building at 4517 California SW – two on the ground floor, separated by the breezeway, and one upstairs.

First – if you aren’t familiar with the “escape room” concept – it’s a 21st-century phenomenon, Atri explains.

Escape rooms first became popular in Japan, and eventually spread to the U.S. You and a group pay to experience a scenario in which you have to strategize and solve puzzles to “escape” in a given amount of time.

The Escape Artist will offer two hour-long scenarios for starters, one in which you’re in space and encounter what appears to be an abandoned spaceship, another in which you are in an elevator stopped by an explosion. That one, Atri says, will be the first “full-motion” escape-room game in the city – the “elevator” will be rigged so that it moves and shakes, and a video screen will enhance the scenario.

Players get clues along the way, and those clues are within the context of the scenario.

There are many rules (no one under the influence, for example) and failsafes (a panic button if someone is freaking out and needs to get out – plus, you and your half-dozen-or-so fellow players are monitored by a “game master”).

While The Escape Artist will be the first “escape room” business in West Seattle, the first one in the U.S. was here in Seattle – Puzzle Break, with Capitol Hill and Belltown locations – so Atri says there’s pressure to live up to expectations of a first-class experience. That’s what she intends to provide. She also says that out of courtesy, escape-room proprietors don’t replicate the type of experiences someone else in their area provides. Right now, she says, there are 10 in the city. They’re popular, she says, for everything from parties to workplace team-building. The Escape Artist will be open to people ages 12 and up. They haven’t finalized pricing yet, but they’re looking at ~$28/adult/weekdays. And military discounts.

What if you don’t solve the puzzles and “escape” before time runs out? It happens, Atri smiles. She has done 22 escape rooms and solved 16. If you want, they’ll even show you – after time runs out – how it could have been solved, or of course you might choose to come back and try it again. (The scenarios will change, too, so even if you do “escape,” you’ll have a reason to return sometime.) She says it’s all about how clever you can be – like a fox, which she says will figure into the upcoming logo.

Meantime, Atri is dealing with the heart-pounding real-life not-a-game scenario of getting The Escape Artist built (working with a firm that specializes in escape rooms) and open – they’re targeting October.

17 Replies to "BIZNOTE: The Escape Artist to be West Seattle's first 'escape room' venue"

  • T June 29, 2017 (5:16 pm)

    Wow, this is so great! I have always wanted to try one but would never have sought it out. In the neighborhood I will definitely give it a go. Best of luck with construction and everything else. Thanks for being so adventurous.

  • CC June 29, 2017 (7:49 pm)

    Fun! Glad to see something strange and unexpected going in!

  • justme June 29, 2017 (9:18 pm)

    I’m scared, but excited!

  • Imma mom June 29, 2017 (11:11 pm)

    Can you amend it to be appropriate for kids? bday party venue space is highly needed!  Particularly for the 8 year old plus age group.  Please consider!

  • Westgal June 29, 2017 (11:14 pm)

    Yay! ! I have done Puzzle Break on Cap Hill and it was good fun. W.Sea desperately needs things for teens to do. This could be great for them but cost may be prohibitive. Maybe a student discount with school ID?

  • Christina June 30, 2017 (8:07 am)

    My fiancé proposed to me in an escape room and rigged the last puzzle to be me finding a personalized box, which resulted in the proposal. It was pukably sweet. We’ve done >30 over 3 states and Canada. There’s a great one in Fremont (can’t remember the group) and we LOVE Smartypantz in Vancouver, Canada. 

    Looking forward to trying these! 

  • Doc June 30, 2017 (9:31 am)

    There’s a free “Escape” parking lot at the Jefferson Square Safeway.

  • Ms_F June 30, 2017 (10:39 am)

    Anything with the word “escape” in it doesn’t scream “fun” to me!  I wish the business luck but you’ll be able to find me dancing, singing or drinking (actually I don’t drink much but the thought I’d this makes me any something to calm me down). Hey, why doesn’t someone bring a dancing venue to West Seattle?!

    • Ms_F June 30, 2017 (10:43 am)

      Typos… but the thought of this makes me want to drink…

  • J242 June 30, 2017 (11:00 am)

    Great news! My wife & I have wanted to go to one of these for a while now and having it in the neighborhood will be so easy!

  • Genesee resident June 30, 2017 (12:26 pm)

    Sounds intriguing!  Does anyone remember the place in the Eastlake neighborhood back in the 90’s where you could experience escape and/or fantasy and puzzle-solving scenarios? I can’t remember the name of the place but my work group did a teamwork employee bonding thing there.  It was a blast!

    • Ron Swanson June 30, 2017 (4:04 pm)

      It was Entros, RIP.  

    • kj June 30, 2017 (4:37 pm)

      Entros  (the logo was a tipped over chair)

  • Bear and Lucy June 30, 2017 (5:49 pm)

    Sounds like great fun!  I’ll be first in line for sure.  This is exactly what West Seattle needed! Can we reserve our spot now before it all fills up?!?!

  • D-Doc June 30, 2017 (6:06 pm)

    You mean walking from the alley to California Ave through that business wasn’t already a puzzle maze?

  • Sam-c June 30, 2017 (8:58 pm)

    This sounds like so much fun.  Good luck to the business and I hope to try it out someday.  I had seen these on tv, but somehow didn’t realize that they were in business here.

  • justme June 30, 2017 (10:13 pm)

    @Doc…LOL I think of that every time I drive through there. In my opinion all the stripes are painted in the wrong direction.

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