Matt Baysinger is the co-owner of some of the top escape rooms in the country.
He and his business partner, Ryan Henrich, began their business in Kansas City, Mo., about three years ago — with no guarantee of success.
Escape rooms were at the height of their popularity, and Breakout KC was one of the first to open in the area.
“At its peak, I think there were 22 in the metro area, and that number is back down to about 16,” Baysinger said.
But Baysinger said he feels the Breakout KC experience was exceptional, which was validated by their long-term success and some USA Today recognition, naming them the No. 5 escape room in the country in 2016.
It was also in 2016 that Baysinger’s company opened an escape room in Lawrence at 727 Massachusetts St.
Breakout Lawrence was also recognized this year by USA Today as the No. 7 escape room in the country.
Escape rooms are exactly what they sound like. Based on the popular online games, guests are “locked” in a room for about an hour with a series of puzzles. They have a certain time limit to escape, and by solving the puzzles with clues, ingenuity, teamwork and sometimes just dumb luck, groups of four to eight people try to escape the room before the allotted time is up.
Baysinger said the goal behind designing escape rooms was the concept of creating shared experiences for people — a concept he and Henrich have toyed with since meeting in high school.
“What we talk about a lot is shared experiences, so the idea that you can go into one of these rooms with your friends or family and then you can go out to lunch or dinner afterward and you get to talk about it,” Baysinger said.
With four options to choose from at their physical location — and another in their mobile gaming unit, Baysinger explained that even if guests aren’t in the room at the same time, they can still compare experiences based on what happens during their escape attempt.
The mobile unit is one of the newer undertakings for the Breakout team. Get Out Games opened for reservations in September — and is the same concept, just in an enclosed semitrailer, and with a few modifications.
“There’s two experiences, but it’s actually the same room — so it’s two sets of the same identical room in the unit,” Baysinger explained. “And what’s really neat about this, compared to our standalone escape rooms, is that it’s our only competition room. So not only are you going against the clock, but you’re also going against another team in the other room and trying to beat them before they can get out, as well.”
Sunday, Get Out Games will be parked in the West Ridge Mall parking lot in Topeka to offer the experience for those who haven’t been able to make the drive to Lawrence, or for those looking for a discount from the regular pricing.
Guests must book a time slot for the rooms, which hold six people each and costs $15 per person.
“We’ve done fairs and festivals and stuff, but we’ve never done an instillation like this at a mall,” Baysinger said. “It’s far cheaper than any other escape room that you would get to play in, and this is partially because we’re testing out this type of implementation, but we wanted folks in Topeka to be able to experience, in our minds, one of the best escape rooms in the area.”
The theme is a runaway rail car, and someone has cut the brakes. Baysinger explained the train is headed for a high-speed collision at Union Station, unless guests can repair them. And of course, there’s a few unforeseen complications — he hinted.
For booking the mobile unit, visit breakoutlawrence.com/getoutgames.
Another escape room experience in Topeka is Keynundrum at 2900 S.W. Atwood Ave., Suite C.
USA Today’s Best Escape Rooms of 2017
1. Komnata Quest - New York
2. Enchambered - Sacramento
3. Cross Roads Escape Games - Anaheim, Calif.
4. 5 Wits - Mass. and N.Y.
5. Escape Code - Branson, Mo.
6. 60 to Escape - Gurnee, Ill.
7. Breakout Lawrence - Lawrence, Kan.
8. Escape Room Insomnia DC - Washington
9. Omescape - San Jose
10. 60OUT - Los Angeles