Countdown: 45 or 60 mins?


If you’re from Calgary, chances are the majority of rooms you’ve done are 60 mins to complete the room. If you’re from say, Edmonton, the majority of your rooms (or even potentially all of them) will be 45 mins. Now, why is that? Places like E-Exit have a 45 min time limit in their B.C. rooms (and even their Edmonton one) but for some reason they became a 60 min room here in Calgary. Places like Breakout (originating in Edmonton) kept the 45 min time limit here in Calgary as well. Even Key Quest (which is nationwide considering it’s a chain and use the same themes throughout) is 45 mins in time, so what makes Calgary so special? Are we dumber than other places and need more time to figure things out? I hope that’s not the case.

One point of view to the 45 min is that it’s a cash grab. You have less time to finish the room, so of course if you enjoyed yourself, like an old school arcade game, you’ll come back next time and spend more money. Makes sense from a business perspective. Kinda. I mean, what if they didn’t like it and it turns them off of doing escape rooms in general? It’s possible, even though I know a few people whose first rooms were just atrocious, but still do them now and then (at other locations of course since it could very well be a quality issue as opposed to a time issue). It can be argued why any limit. Like, why 60 mins when it can be 70? Why 70 when it can be 80? And so on and so forth. Another thought is that to have even booking times (on the hour exactly) if it’s done as 45 mins, so when you arrive 15 mins early to your room (which is indicated most of the time for the rooms) that during the debriefing/payment period before you start is the reset time for the room (for the staff to put everything back and lock everything, etc). So, you’re there when the other group is finished to confirm you’re there, and it shouldn’t take more than 15 mins to reset a room, which makes the room times at 7:00, 8:00, or 9:00 and not 7:00, 8:15, or 9:30. Which actually reminds of movie times at a theatre, like it ends at a time after the credits and people have to clean up the popcorn you left on the floor and it has to be done before the next movie can start which take X amount of time.

Based on our own experiences, Cross Roads that we did in California was 60 mins, as was Eureka in Banff. So it’s not just a Calgary thing (woo, it’s not cause we’re dumb!) but just a choice of the company at that point I guess. I heard a rumor that E-Exit started at 45 mins but quickly changed to 60 not too long after opening. It’s not that it’s impossible to complete it in 45 mins most of the time (unless you’re X-17 at E-Exit) but it just puts that much more pressure on you. It’s weird, but that extra 15 mins goes a long way as most of the time for 45 min rooms we don’t complete we’re usually on the last couple of puzzles. Even Escape Capers added an extra 10 mins to one of their rooms due to how expansive it is, perhaps realizing how close people were and to give them an actual chance at escape rather than come back and try again (cause really, who wants to come back and play an entire room you’ve already done just to get to the final puzzle(s) and “finish” the room?). Heck, Eureka added a whole 30 mins extra to one of their rooms for just a measly 17% price addition cause of how big it was.

The monetary factor is a big thing to consider though. I mean, most of the time when people ask me, “How much does it cost to do an escape room?” and I’d say, “Usually $25 but some are around $30 depending”. And the response I expect is that it’s an outrageous amount for just 60 mins (OR 45!!) but the response I get usually (or always so far) is, “Oh, that’s not bad.” So, it’s that division of where you’re from and what you’re use to. Being that the rooms that only have a location in Calgary are all 60 mins, does that make it more worth it and the norm? Key Quest is only $15 for 45 mins of time, but given that, the quality of the experience (not very good), is reflective of that. Now, I don’t feel ripped off at paying the same price for a 45 min room, that’s just how it is normally for people in Edmonton all the time. If we do the math, it comes out to just under $30 ($29.33 if you wanna get specific) for that extra 15 mins if we cost $25 to a 45 min room and turned  it into a 60 min room. This can kinda explain the prices for Esxoss Manway and Escape Capers (well, Capers probably to buff it up a bit for actor fees) being more than the common $25/60 mins if they’re doing this math. Currently though, Esxoss has since dropped their price from what they had originally.

I mean, if escape rooms really are based off the desktop computer games, there was no time limit on those and you just had to get out. But as a business (and it’s completely understandable) I guess it’s like Super Mario (or any sport), where you need to complete the stage in a certain amount of time. Maybe it’s just doing a bunch of rooms in Calgary to start that made it feel like the norm to have 60 mins, but it just feels like a more adequate chunk of time. I guess people from Edmonton that come down to do rooms it must be like extra Christmas for them to have 33% extra time at no extra cost. But in turn it feels like we’re getting 25% less time when we go to Edmo to do rooms, so it’s relative I guess. I mean, Lockdown in Red Deer is 50 mins, and it’s like… they’re halfway between Calgary and Edmonton and decided to split the diff time wise. Kinda.

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