The first escape room adventure of its kind, Mobile Room Escape offers players a chance to have a unique adventure while riding a 32 foot luxury climate controlled trailer. No need to worry about travelling to get to the party because the party will come to you. It’s perfect for any type of events or occasions whether it’s birthdays, baby announcements, holiday celebrations, corporate events and team buildings, fundraisers or just a fun time to escape the ordinary.
Our very Jason Garvett was interviewed by Haunt Geeks. We were excited to talk about custom mobile room escape trailers and our special Mobile Room Escape Service we offer to build out Escape Rooms for you!
Cruise ship captain takes a detour . . . and steers right into a new career
Creative people often dream of exiting their everyday jobs, but Western Springs’ Jason Garvett embraced escape as a career move.
The architecture cruise captain and former acting/directing major wasn’t exactly sure how he’d scratch the old creative itch that had resurfaced. Then he went to an escape room for his birthday. He ended up in a room with several 15-year-olds.
“I thought it would be the worst birthday ever, trapped with them,” Garvett says with a laugh. “But the puzzle-solving, working with people I didn’t know. The generational thing was great — they figured out the combination for the lock but they didn’t know how to open it — the adults had to show them how locks worked. We all had to put down our phones! It was a fun setting.”
The adrenaline rush reminded Garvett of performing. Escape rooms intrigued him. But he knew from his years as charter manager for Chicago’s First Lady cruises how hard it can be to get lots of people to one place. The answer? Mobile Room Escape.
Incorporated in October 2015 and opened in March 2016, it was one of the country’s first mobile escape rooms.
Garvett first thought “mobile” could mean puzzles set up in customers’ houses — a “pop-up” room. He then realized people might not want strangers rummaging around their homes.
That’s how Garvett ended up in Morris, Illinois, ordering a customizable 32-foot trailer.
“The number of sleepless nights was ridiculous,” he recalls. “I was going from a secure job driving the boats to starting my own venture. It was one of the scariest times of my life.”
A week before opening, at a trade show in Schaumburg where he hoped to drum up a kids’ birthday party booking, Garvett met a business owner whose arcades and video games traveled in a trailer.
“I was thinking he was going to say I was copying him, but instead he told me he had worked for Ford for 30 years and designs trailers for various businesses. ‘Next time you design a trailer,’ he said, ‘call me.’”
The journey had a few dead ends. Selling tickets to sparse crowds in Gurnee Mills’ parking lot was somewhat fruitless. Garvett wasn’t sure he’d make enough to pay the gas and other bills. He worried he’d be closed within a week.
Fairs worked better. Patrons of fall harvests and various suburban festivals flocked to try out the trailer’s 15-minute experiences. But hour-long, family-friendly private parties in the themed trailer drew the most rave reviews — first, a mad scientist’s laboratory and then a submarine (World War II buff Garvett figured everyone loves a good periscope.)
His own creative puzzle was finally solved. “I get my fix acting, directing, writing. As a father of two, working and running another business, it would be hard to fit in rehearsals,” Garvett says.
The trailers have hosted parties for people aged from five to 80 and older in Naperville, Hinsdale, Elmhurst, Clarendon Hills and way beyond — to 14 other states, including Iowa for a post-prom event, and South Carolina for corporate team building. In Chicago, one room hosted Star Jones’ son’s birthday party.
Many escape rooms discourage children. Not Garvett.
“Any time you rule out a class of people — age, class, religion, orientation — it’s not a good decision. Unlike a lot of rooms, our game master is with participants the whole time — I hire actors and want them to engage the audience and be part of the scenario,” says Garvett, who still also captains the First Lady cruises.
Mobile Room Escape also builds trailers for other owners — yes, Garvett called the guy from Ford. The two have sent more than a dozen trailers to Miami, Seattle, Nashville, Branson and Atlanta.
“People kept asking about the mobile aspect. I thought, if I’m going to do that, I need an expert. We went to the first Escape Room trade show in the country and sold three. Now we build them.”
Coming soon: a trailer featuring super heroes and four original super villains drawn by a local cartoonist. “We try to appeal to all ages and types of people and keep it interesting for us too,” says Garvett. “If you’re not interested in what you’re doing, it’s not going to come out well.”
That’s whole point of an escape room — getting out, and having fun doing so. Contact us today to schedule your adventure of a lifetime!
Today we’d like to introduce you to
Jason, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My background is in acting and directing and for the past 12 years, I have worked in the Tourism and Hospitality industry in Chicago for Chicago’s First Lady Cruises as a Boat Captain, Group Sales Coordinator, and their Private Charter Fleet Manager. In 2014, I was driving to work and was T-boned by a vehicle that ran a red light. What doctors thought at first, was a bruised elbow turned into elbow reconstruction surgery. On September 25 (a day before my 33rd birthday), I underwent surgery and I was out of commission for 5 months. During that time, I was searching to get back to my theatre roots but, I did not know in what fashion I wanted to do that in. In September of 2015, I did my first escape room and that’s when it hit me. This still young form of entertainment was the perfect mix of people communicating, actors, sets, lights, sound effects, props and it put the audience member in the role of the actor. From gorking in private events, I know how difficult it was to get a group of people in what place at a time so that is why, I decided to start MOBILE Room Escape. We custom built a 32-foot trailer that was heated, cooled, insulated and self powered so, we could bring the escape room to the people. We travel all around Chicago and the US bringing team building, and the fun of the escape room to our audience.
In 2016, after many inquiries from other companies wanting to start Mobile Escape Rooms, we started building Mobile Escape Room’s for other business’s. Today, you can find out Mobile Escape Rooms not only in Chicago, but in Central Florida, Atlanta Georgia, Bran, MO, Seattle, Washington, Nashville, TN.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Starting any new business from scratch has major hurdles to over come. Our first 6 months, we were stationed outside a shopping mall selling tickets. We made very little money at this and had very expensive rent. Being very active in the day to day, I learned that while other escape rooms thrive at selling tickets to customers that come to them, our uniqueness is that we come to people. We ended our contract with the mall and focused on private events such as birthdays, team buildings, school and camp groups, girl scouts and boy scout troops, adult block parties and we set up at fairs and festivals. The fairs and festivals brought us tons of public following and our theme park quality escape rooms spread quickly in the Chicagoland area by word of mouth. By month 7, we really started to see our calendar book up and had to start expanding the business and creating new games.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Mobile Room Escape – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Mobile Room Escape was one of the first escape room’s in the US that brings the escape room fun to our clients. Live Action Escape Rooms originated in Japan and made there way to the US about 7 years ago. The original idea was locking a group of people in a room for an hour and giving them a bunch of puzzles, riddles, and obstacles they have to work together to solve and escape out of the room. Today, most companies have gotten away from the idea of locking people in a room (which scared off a lot of customers) and giving them other challenges to succeed at such as saving the world or finding a hidden treasure.
Most escape rooms set up shop in a mall, strip, mall, warehouse or office building. Our escape rooms come to our patrons. We have 32′ trailers that are climate controlled and the escape room pulls up directly to our patrons home, business, or local park.
Part of what sets us apart from other escape rooms is the fact that we are a travelling escape room which is unique in its self, we cater to both young kids and adults (we are a family run business with the goal of getting parents and their children communicating and having fun together) and the quality of our rooms surpass the original idea of just putting a bunch of locks on cabinets. We have set, lighting, and a/v designers along with working with the best technology in the escape room industry to make the customers experience as immersive as visiting their local theatre.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The past years have seen our business grow with our expansion of more mobile escape rooms in Chicago and starting up in Georgia as well. We have also since August of 2016 been building and designing Mobile Escape Room trailers and games for other clients. While we are excited about our growth, we really try to focus on the business one day at a time and make sure that our each of our clients has an amazing escape room experience. Our number goal is to exceed our customers expectations. We try to this daily with great communication, upgrading our products and learning more and more about this ever evolving industry. We are seeing more requests from major government agencies and the entertainment industry about creating escape rooms for them to use in recruitment and promotions. While I can’t discuss too much about it now, we have a couple of very big escape room clients lined up for their mobile escape room created by Mobile Room Escape.
55 – Mobile Room EscapeTM with Jason Garvett – Dec 22, 2017
Mobile Room Escape Chicago was just featured on an hour long podcast for escape rooms.
Illinois SADD is a peer leadership organization dedicated to preventing destructive behavior among young people, particularly underage drinking, impaired and distracted driving, teen violence, teen depression and suicide. The organizers contacted us to come be a part of their summit in Springfield.
For an escape room that relies A LOT on safe driving, this was a special opportunity for us to put on a great team building escape that allowed leaders to show their stuff for a good cause.
So we escorted the teen group of nearly 10 teens into the trailer… and locked them in! Once in the trailer, the teens we no longer students, but sailors in the Navy! Engineer Melina transported them back to the 1940s where they needed to solve a mission in order to get out safely… and they only had an hour to do it.
These teens went to work right away. They followed the instructions of Engineer Melina and were able to escape in the knick of time! After the event we were able to talk to the organizers and students about their experiences.
“I just thought this sounded really interesting and it gave them a chance to go through something that made them have to work together, “ Robyn Block, Illinois SADD Coordinator stated.
“Life is just a giant puzzle and there are a lot of problem solving abilities that come with it,” Rick Birt, President National SADD, said, “so there is just a lot of messages that this escape room embodies in so many different ways.”
Mobile Room EscapeTM has done many events, but one thing that really struck us about this one was the group of teens that came in together and left together… actually never met before. In the room they worked flawlessly as a team. Without team work, you really lower the odds of being successful in our escapes. Engineer Melina and I couldn’t believe they just met in this escape room and it really showed the teens ability to work with others and form bonds in order to solve problems.
“I honestly think that escape room helped us,” Elizabeth Eckerty, an Illinois SADD Member, says, “and after it was all done we were all high-fiving and saying we did it, and now I feel we are a lot closer and I am thankful for that.”
The drive back home was a long one but we made sure to drive safely, as always, in honor of Illinois SADD! We hope to see you guys again soon!
Keep Your Mind Open,
Escape Rooms are all about working together and helping each other to solve problems. During the month of September Mobile Room EscapeTM will be helping those that truly need help. We will donate $10 dollars of any private booking to The American Red Cross to support their work in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. In addition to that we are offering $50 off to you for any new escape room booked by making a contribution yourself.* That’s right! Donate at least $1 to those in need to save $50 on your next Mobile Escape Room. In addition if you are able to beat our record time of 13:25 with out any clues Mobile Room EscapeTM will donate an extra $100 to Hurricane Harvey relief.
Please visit the link below to make a donation and thank you for supporting those in need.
Mobile Room EscapeTM has helped many other charities, schools, and organizations raise funds to help benefit their causes. We have worked with the Boy Scouts of America, The Easter Seals, The American Alzheimers Association just to name a few. Besides the lucrative draw of selling tickets for an escape room, Chicago based Mobile Room EscapeTM offers their own monetary donation to any group that can beat their record escape time, and we even offer a hint system to participants that helps to draw extra revenue toward the charity at hand.
*Receipt of donation to the red cross must be shown.
‘Mobile Room EscapeTM‘s Newest Adventure is the most suspenseful two minutes in Chicago.
In 2 Minutes you can brush your teeth, get dressed for work, make a sandwich or play Mobile Room EscapeTM‘s 2 minute mini trailer adventure game. The high tech puzzle solving game is made up of three electronic puzzles that challenges your mental and physical abilities. The clock ticks down as you race to repair the trailers axles and get her on the road again, but too many mishaps and all you will get is a face full of smoke (literally).
The two minute mini game was developed by owner Jason Garvett and Mobile Room EscapeTM‘s Electrical Engineer Harrison Kantner. “Our innaugural year we were able to take our 32’ trailer to Fairs and Festivals during the summer to offer an escape room adventure to the attendees throughout the Chicago area. This year we are so booked with birthdays, corporate events, picnics, and field trips that we have not been able to commit to our festival circuit.” Now our 4′ model trailer can bring the escape room fun to our Summer events for the perfect Chicago Escape Room Adventure!
The mini game is the perfect addition to larger events, or even as an add on to our full sized trailer game “Down Periscope“. Call 773-219-2922 or email us at email@example.com to set up our mini game at your next event. We are the perfect Chicago Escape Room adventure, and, we are mobile! We will come to you for all your special events and team building activities.
Check out this article Mobile Room EscapeTM built this trailer with our partners for this group in Seattle!
Mobile Room EscapeTM offers a turn-key solution to your new Mobile Escape Room. Our fully immersive games include Hollywood Style sets, High Tech Puzzles, Full Video and Audio Immersion, and so much more. Whether you are looking at one of our stock games, custom game design, or high tech puzzles and props Mobile Room EscapeTM is here to build you an escape room that will be fun and current for many years. Contact us today for a quote.
The colleges we’ve traveled to from Chicago have had us escaping with sororities and fraternities (a competition!), teambuilding with administration, new student orientation, and educational groups for future leaders and entrepreneurs. Our escapes are challenging for the students, and encourage them to work together, problem solve, and communicate!
I’ve taken the mobile escape room to many colleges and universities in the midwest. One of the most recent was in Iowa, and I enjoyed a beautiful, nostalgic drive. I attended the University of Iowa for college and drove I-80 every time there was a break.
Central College, in Pella, Iowa had us come out for a night of 15 minute escape rooms for the students as a mid semester night of fun. I met the Campus Activities Board student leader, Elizabeth, who helped Mobile Room EscapeTM (MRE) plan the night. She lit up when I arrived, and kept asking me if there was anything she could do to help. That’s Iowa nice, for ya. She ended up doing the escape two times herself during the night! All the groups had a great time, and by the end of the night, Elizabeth said “Oh we are definitely having you come back next semester!”
The next morning, before I had to leave, she offered to take me on a tour of Pella. We ate breakfast at a local cafe, I admired the windmills around town, and spent too much at their local bakery. My heart warmed from the familiar Iowa kindness that I knew all through my college years. Just before I set out on the road again, Elizabeth snapped a picture for me in front of their college sign. I can’t wait to go back to Pella for our next Escape Room Adventure! You could be our next adventure-Contact us today for details.