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Escape Garden State

Can Your Outsmart The Gamemaster?

Article by Alessandra Guarneri

Photography by Steven Wagner,

Originally published in Wayne Lifestyle

Adventure awaits in your own backyard! The opportunity to experience a safe, yet thrilling, escapade in just one building has never been easier.

Whether you’re racing against the clock in their boardwalk themed space (known as “Boardwalk Blast”) or navigating your way through their Sopranos-themed “Mafia Blackout,” Escape Garden State is unlike any other escape room you’ve ever been to - especially in New Jersey.

Owner Matt Hale, took an intense interest in navigating his way through puzzles and complex video games at a very early age. His passion only continued to grow as time went on. It eventually led him to work for his family friend’s escape room for a few years before beginning construction and opening up the wildly popular Escape Garden State in 2016.

Unlike countless other escape rooms, Escape Garden State is the only space in the country that features their four specifically hand-crafted rooms which are all New Jersey themed. “We're kind of unique in the fact that we built all of our rooms completely from scratch rather than using a franchise or buying the themes and puzzles from a third party,” Hale notes.

Hale and his father, John, designed everything from the themes to each room’s various puzzles all on their own. John even completed most of the construction inside of the building and in the rooms with a little help from other family members.

With thousands of visitors a year, Hale’s business continues to grow exponentially and welcomes competitors from all over the state due to its high challenge level.

“We want to make it challenging enough that not everyone gets through, but most groups do get within five to 10 minutes of finishing,” Hale explains.

“The most rewarding part about doing this is seeing people genuinely enjoy themselves while they work through the room. We [owners and gamemasters] watch and listen to each group and love seeing the different reactions. It gets more exciting as participants get closer to solving.”

As competitors navigate their way through each escape room, they are simultaneously monitored by a gamemaster who provides clues as frequently as requested. With tons of thrills and surprises in store, it’s never obvious as to what might come next and every step towards a successful exit is undeniably a challenge. Participants must pay close attention to every detail and remain focused in order to escape any of Hale’s unique rooms. There is certainly no shortage of tricks and shocking realizations from start to finish.

Other than simply having fun, Escape Garden State is also a perfect opportunity to work with a team, significant other, or your family on communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills together.

“We’re one of the best suited escape rooms in the area for team building,” Hale explains. “Our facility is fairly large in comparison to most other escape rooms. We have four rooms and can fit 8 people in each one, so we can accommodate 32 people in our space at a time.”

Some of us on the Wayne Lifestyle team took on the challenge of “Power Surge” and managed to somehow make it out with only a minute and twenty seconds left. 

Although Escape Garden State is family friendly, each of their rooms are different and some are easier than others. “Boardwalk Blast is the most kid-friendly in terms of ages, but Power Surge is also very kid-friendly,” Hale explains. And for fans of “The Sopranos,” “Mafia Blackout” is definitely the way to go.

It’s time to gather your most strategic friends, co-workers, and family members to race against time and escape one of Escape Garden State’s creatively designed rooms for an unforgettable experience this summer.

Escape Garden State is located at 1275 Bloomfield Ave, Unit 49, Building 7, Fairfield.  To book your experience, visit:  Tag us on Instagram with photos of your best times!

  • Keys, Puzzles & Problem Solving Will Open Locked Boxes, Secret Recordings and Hidden Doors!
  • Owner Matt Hale Designed "Boardwalk Blast" Is An Absolute Crowd Favorite
  • Some Of The Wayne Lifestyle Team Went And Managed To Escape With 1:20 Left On The Clock!
  • Some Challenges Have You Start With Your Group Split Up

Businesses featured in this article