Escape Room LA, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, is the longest running escape room in Los Angeles going on it’s sixth year. Owner and developer John Hennessy, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, has found a way to keep Escape Room LA operating despite COVID-19 shutting down thousands of businesses across the United States and putting millions out of work.
Hennessy had been doing outdoor events for several years and the first time he heard of Escape Rooms was in 2014 after reading about an escape room in Eastern Europe, coincidentally a few months later he saw another news story about escape rooms. Having worked on outdoor events where participants are required to solve clues and puzzles, fascinated by the idea, Hennessy thought it was something that would be very popular in LA. Risking all he had, John started looking for space and working on game ideas which is how Escape Room LA came to fruition in November 2014.
Escape Room LA started with one room called “The Detective”, where participants step back in time into the world of a 1940s private detective. Inside the detective’s office, you’ll find yourself trapped in a film-noir style Hollywood mystery. It has since expanded into five different experiences which are all high-quality rooms that are physically beautiful while also being challenging, immersive and completely original since they do not purchase pre-built games from overseas chains like many other LA-based escape companies tend to do. Escape Room LA has been visited by people around the world and celebrities such as Conan O’Brien, Halle Berry, Pete Davidson and more.
When the pandemic began, Escape Room LA was hit hard as were many other small businesses. In mid-March Escape Room LA was forced to close due to the City and State regulations, but Hennessy has shifted focus from live in person events to offering online live streaming games instead.
When asked about how difficult that decision was Hennessy stated, “When we had to close, I felt like my back was up against the wall and I think the first game came out quickly, just out of desperation. I felt sort of panicked, that I had to find a way to keep our name out there, get at least a little income coming in, and find a way for at least a few of our staff to continue working. At the time I never imagined the closure would go on for so long, so now we are working on more advanced online games.”
While no one knows how long the mandated closures across Los Angeles will be, John is making the best of this pandemic by designing games that participants can play online from their own homes. Escape Room LA is now able to reach people across the country and from other countries.
Escape Room LA Live offers three different online games “The Lost Pyramid”, “Escape From Planet X” and “The Curse of the Dark Raven”. These live-hosted games feature both audio and visual clues. An experienced escape room host leads the participants through the game, verbally describing the surroundings while showing a series of images and puzzles, and letting them know how they can interact with everything they see.
Hennessy hopes to open Escape Room LA when City and State regulations are lifted but will continue to hold their outdoor events, which he’s been organizing for over 15 years. Race LA is a day-long “Amazing Race” style adventure race around the LA area and is held yearly. This year’s race which was scheduled in May was cancelled but John plans on coming back with a new event in 2021.
For more information on Escape Room LA Live or to test your skills and try one of their escape rooms visit https://www.escaperoomla.com/livestream