This is number 15 in my series of things to do with children while you’re parenting alone.  Whether you are divorced, separated or just alone for the day with the kids, I hope these posts can be a guide of things to do with your kids in a city that isn’t set up for kids, Chicago. I’m not just a lawyer, I’m also a dad. 

In 2004, a Japanese video game called “Crimson Room” locked the player inside a small, red bedroom where the only way to win was to escape. Without instructions or other players, the player would have to search for clues and items needed to solve puzzles and reveal the mystery of the room. This game was the first of its kind, but certainly not the last. 

Now, nearly 15 years later, this completely original idea has made its way around the world and has evolved into a fully-immersive, real-world-experience called an “escape room”. Even more specifically, it’s made its way to Chicago. Fox in a Box is an international company that has many years of escape room experience in places like Los Angeles, Miami, and Madrid. You and yours have the opportunity not just for fun, but for adventure.

In an escape room, which is much like the Crimson Room video game, you and your team start in a relatively small, enclosed space. You’re given a clear objective and a time limit. Sometimes a staff member collects smartphones to prevent cheating. Sometimes you’re given an introductory packet or a set of clues to help jumpstart the adventure. You won’t be forced against your will to remain inside the room, but exiting before reaching the end will usually end the game prematurely. Some escape rooms are based purely on the goal of “escaping the room” and others are themed. Fox in a Box is one escape room company that bases its rooms on different themes and scenarios.

There are 4 scenarios:

The Lab: A zombie virus has spread throughout the world. You and your team of survivors are, for the moment, secure in a science laboratory. You’ve been in contact with a group of Russian scientists who are working on a cure, but recently the connection has gone silent. With the rapid growth of the outbreak and no guarantee that the scientists are still alive, you may be the last hope for humanity. With any instructions from those who came before you and the tools at your disposal you must create an antidote before it’s too late.

·       No actual zombies will be present.

·       15+ only (even with an adult)

The Bunker: It’s the 1970s. A Cold War has broken out between The United States and The Soviet Union. The world’s best spy, known as Mr. Fox, is actually a double agent (works for both sides) and has attained nuclear launch codes which he has hidden away in his bunker. Now, Mr. Fox has gone missing and someone has initiated a nuclear launch. You and your team have been sent on a mission to abort the launch within 60 minutes. You may be all that stands between the world and nuclear annihilation.

·       No actual nuclear bombs are involved.

The Bank: You and your team are a ragtag, but highly-skilled, group of thieves. One of your informants has learned that the general manager of a very large and well-known bank is keeping a large amount of diamonds in his office safe. If these diamonds “outshine” the contents of the bank vault then they really must be worth the risk. You’ve been able to disable the security system. This will last for one hour. Succeed and you’ll have more wealth than you could possibly imagine. Fail and you’ll find yourself behind bars. Does your team have enough grit and determination to pull this off or will you turn on each other at the first sign of trouble?

The Prison: Standing on the outside of crime, you’ve always looked up to the lawmakers and keepers of the peace, but your ideals were dashed on the rocks when you were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for a crime that you didn’t commit. With no hope of being released, your only comfort is to dream of wild escape scenarios and how you’d carry them out. Now, a riot has broken out in another part of the prison and the guard assigned to keep an eye on you has left his post. This may be your only chance and you don’t know how long it will last. Hopefully your imagination and your knowledge of the prison will be enough to escape, but you won’t know unless you try.

·       For an extra fee, if you use The Bank and get caught, you can have the opportunity to try your luck in escaping The Prison.

Pricing:

·        Prices: $105 for up to 3 players and $35 for each additional player (online pricing)

·        Gift cards (valid up to 5 years) are available for purchase.

Parking:

·       Fox in a Box is located at 47 W Polk St, Suite L5 (Basement).

·       If taking public transportation then (from my law office) walk south 0.2 miles, take the Red Line, and then walk southwest for 0.2 miles.

·        Metered parking available nearby ($4/hour for up to 3 hours)

·        All day “stack” parking available behind the building

·       Divvy Bike Sharing location at W Polk St & S Dearborn St

Important information:

·       RESERVATIONS REQUIRED (312)878-7899

·       Hours:

·       Sun-Thurs: 12pm-10:30pm

·       Friday: 12pm-12midnight

·       Saturday 10:30am-12midnight

·       Fox in a Box has fantastic reviews:

o   Google: 5 stars (over 600 reviews)

o   Yelp: 5 stars (over 200 reviews)

o   Facebook: 5 stars (over 200 reviews)

o   TripAdvisor: 5 stars (over 800 reviews)

·       Rooms are for 2-6 people and up to 35 at one time

·       60-minute play time with 30-minute breaks in between

·       Head-to-head rooms available

·       Refunds and cancellations NOT ACCEPTED

·       NO rescheduling less than 72 hours in advance.

·       Be sure to dress comfortably

·       Avoid heels, perfume, and makeup, but don’t forget to wear deodorant.

·       Wheelchair accessible

·       Age limit is 15 (12-14 in some scenarios and with an adult may be acceptable)

·       Arriving more than 5 minutes after the appointment may forfeit the appointment.

·       This business is on a 90-minute cycle so arriving early for restroom use and such is ideal.

·       “Panic button” available in case of emergency

·       Sign the waiver (available online) beforehand to save time.

·       Watch “Escape Rooms 101” by Scott Nicholson on YouTube if you’d like more general information concerning escape rooms.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tqnw7g5iIFQ&t=15s

One of the biggest bragging points of escape rooms is that these experiences can be used as team-building exercises. Fox in a Box even has the option to pay a Human Resource manager to assess your team or your family’s dynamics. Whether you pay extra for the professional assessment or not this is something your family is going to want to do at least once.

Fox in a Box is 0.8 miles (5-minute drive or 16-minute walk) from my Chicago law office. Directions below: