Barack Obama and the Escape Room Craze
Barack Obama leaves Upland restaurant on March 10, 2017 in New York City. (James Devaney/GC Images)
President Obama and the Escape Room Craze
Then U.S. President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia Obama participated in an hour-long Escape Room adventure during his December 2016 holiday in Hawaii. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)


Former president Barack Obama has clearly been enjoying his time out of the White House. But according to Red Bull, he was having a blast long before the Trump administration showed up—specifically, on Christmas Eve, while vacationing in Waikiki, Hawaii.

Obama and daughter Malia took part in what is known as an Escape Room at Breakout Waikiki—where a group of people select a themed room, get locked inside it, and have to solve a series of timed puzzles to get out. Themed rooms at Breakout Waikiki include saving a casino before it’s demolished, saving the world on New Year’s Eve 1999, and The Hatch, which sounds like it’s invoking the Hawaii-shot TV series Lost. Of course, Obama chose a particularly relevant scenario: Posing as secret agents, he and Malia had one hour to break out of a terrorist’s lair—they apparently got out with just 12 seconds to spare. And if you’re wondering what the success rates are, they’re pretty slim: The Hatch, for instance, has just a 22 percent success rate.

President Obama and the Escape Room Craze
A look inside ‘The Hatch’ room (Courtesy of Breakout Waikiki)


Per Red Bull, the Escape Room trend has been building over the last decade, as adventure-fueled, puzzle-solving people the world over have turned this Harry Houdini–esque craze into a competitive sport. They’ll be converging on Budapest, Hungary, for the ultimate Escape Room showdown from March 23-25. The winners will be named world champions. (For more on Red Bull’s competitive puzzle-solving program, click here.)

The task at hand in Hungary is no small feat. Entitled “Mission: Unlock Enoch,” the ultimate Escape Room scenario was designed by Dr. Scott Nicholson, a visiting professor at MIT of Game Design and Development from Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University.

Watch an Escape Room scenario in the video below.


—Will Levith for RealClearLife