Tourists in Budapest pay to be locked up in cellars

Thu Aug 7, 2014 10:17am EDT
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By Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - In a ramshackle old building in Budapest, tourists pay to be locked up in a room and try to escape by solving a series of mysterious clues, opening locks and finding their way out.

"Rabbit Hole", inspired by the 19th Century English novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", is one of some 100 or so escape-room games that have sprung up in the Hungarian capital in the last three years, becoming a top attraction for tourists.

Escape games take advantage of Budapest's many decrepit cellars and old rundown houses. These same spots served as venues for the city's popular "ruin bars" in the past decade.

Hungary last week held its first nationwide festival of escape games, with hundreds of teams, Hungarian and foreign alike, entering dozens of rooms across the country.

"We are caught up in the daily grind ... but in this game we can drift into a different world where problems disappear," said Adam Pattantyus, who organized the festival and runs games called Sweet Escape.

Andras Maldrik and Zeno Zoltan Ferencz, the owners of ExitPointGames which operates three escape rooms in the "ruin bar" Fogaskert, opened their first room in Budapest two years ago with an investment of only about $2,100-$3,000.

Now they are exporting their ideas abroad, designing and building escape rooms in Vienna and Bucharest.

They say games work well when they require various skills, with team members searching for clues and resolving puzzles by using logic and mechanical skills.   Continued...

A player searches for clues in an escape room at ExitPointGames in Budapest August 1, 2014. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh