Escape the 80’s attraction opening in long-vacant space at 1804 E. Passyunk Ave.

The long-vacant space at 1804 E. Passyunk Ave. is getting a new tenant–and an 80’s makeover.


An escape the room attraction called Escape the 80’s is expected to open in the location in mid-July.

So what exactly does Escape the 80’s entail? Just like any other escape the room-type attraction, you’ll be trapped in a space with anywhere between two and ten people. You’ll then have to work together and find clues in the space to get out within 60 minutes. Most other escape the room attractions are meant to be scary, but the creator of this attraction, Elisabeth Garson, wants to do something more fun.

The attraction will include various themed rooms that look like an 80’s mall, a video room, a travel agency and more. Throughout these spaces you will search for clues, which will then be put together with codes using various 80’s technology. You can expect to see cabbage patch kids, walkie talkies, plenty of VHS tapes and more throughout the 1500 sq. ft. space. Although it is 80’s themed, you don’t have to be an expert on the decade to play.


Unlike other escape the room attractions, in this 80’s wonderland you will also be able to win prizes. The prizes include things like free beer vouchers for local establishments and Whatchamacallit candy bars hidden throughout the rooms.

The game will cost $32, but will be discounted after 10 p.m. They also have a last-minute deal where you can come 15 minutes before the game and if the time slot is open, you’ll be able to play for just $10 per person. Currently they plan on being open seven days a week, noon to midnight.

In addition to the fun inside the attraction, Garson says that they hope to have tables set up with games outside so anyone can join in on the fun. You can also expect to hear plenty of 80’s tunes. 

They also got their car painted like the Magnum P.I. van.
If you recall, Garson was also behind the Philadelphia Arts Market that was proposed for the lot Bart Blatstein is developing at Broad and Washington but never got off the ground. 

The Escape the 80’s website is still in development, but you can check it out here.

So if you happen to notice a Magnum P.I. van driving around South Philly, this is where it’s coming from.

51 thoughts on “Escape the 80’s attraction opening in long-vacant space at 1804 E. Passyunk Ave.

  • June 12, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    April Fools?

    • June 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      seriously. feels like such a waste of this space.

      • June 15, 2015 at 9:18 am

        Seriously….why don’t you start your own business there Rockefeller.

  • June 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    This may be the worst idea EVER!!! Maybe the Atlantic City boardwalk would’ve been the better option for a location? Did the proprietor of this business even do analysis to see if someone other then herself would be interested in this. Also, the 90’s are a more relative decade pertaining attracting millennials. Who in my opinion, are the only ones that would even have interest in a attraction like this.

    • June 12, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Actually, Millennials are much more interested in 80s culture than in 90s culture. It’s not what time period they grew up in – it’s what’s more interesting. The 80s were way more interesting.

    • June 19, 2015 at 11:16 am

      It sounds like you’ve never done an escape the room… they’re extremely popular, and extremely fun.

  • June 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    what the what?

  • June 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    So, the space will soon be vacant again?

  • June 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Man – tough crowd. I think it sounds fun

  • June 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Maybe….maaayyyybe if they figure out some good partnership deals w/local restaurants/bars to market it as a package deal for groups/business outings/etc. Andrew’s right about the decade theme. 90’s would be much more appealing and still enough of a throw-back.

    • June 15, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Eh, pretty much any Millennial I’ve ever met, including myself, is much more amused by the 80s than the 90s. The premise of “escaping the 80s” sounds utterly hilarious, while “escaping the 90s” sounds like something we all wanted to do in the first place and never want to go back to.

  • June 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Why the negativity? How long has this building been empty? Not everything can be a restaurant and retail is really hard.

    Escape rooms are popular in other cities and Center City already has a busy one:

    I think having options on the Ave that aren’t just bars and restaurants is a good thing.

    • June 14, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Agreed. I’m looking forward to it and applaud anyone taking an unexpected and creative idea and using it to brighten up an unused retail space. Who doesn’t like a good maze and night out doing something different with friends? Squares, That’s who.

  • June 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I feel like I’m trapped in this comments section and I can’t get out.

  • June 12, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Wait – is today April 1st?

    • June 13, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      As a business person on the avenue, I do admit I am very skeptical. Yes, we do not need another restaurant, but the street needs to build it’s retail customers for those if us that have to pay rents & have retail businesses to make their living. The Avenue was known as a destination for shopping & there are a lot of us that are trying to make that happen again.

      This idea, I feel will not bring shoppers to the street.
      It sounds very boardwalk to me & my skepticism is that it will bring south street to the ave…which we do not need.

      I hope this amuses you as much as the other comments.

      Yes, the building has been vacant, but it is my understanding that the owner did not want to do a anything to make it appealing to rent.

      • June 14, 2015 at 6:30 am

        Hey Carolyn,

        the difference between someone making a comment that says “that sucks” vs. a business owner telling me what they think is really different.

        Room escapes are wildly popular. The ones in the city (particularly in CC) is sold out for months in advance. This is a new concept and one that is being really well received in real life. I have people trying to book now.

        It positively impacts the avenue because we’re forming alliances with businesses on the street. We’re working with Passyunk restaurants to create private parties. We’re offering “free beers” to bars on the avenue. And we’re literally new DRIVING traffic to an area from noon to midnight. What do they do before and after the game?

        In the dozens of room escapes I’ve been to, I can tell you what I did.

        I went out to eat and went shopping.

        I think all the negativity on this thread is really strange, but I also know that no one on this thread is in touch with the culture.

        I’d ask, Carolyn, that as a business owner and a neighbor, you be supportive of our idea as I’m sure others were supportive of yours when you opened.

        Get in touch with me if you want to meet and I can tell you a little more…. Elisabeth

      • June 14, 2015 at 10:49 am

        I am a business owner on the Ave and I am all for it. And hooray that you managed to rent that long vacant space! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Welcome to the Ave : )

      • July 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm

        my skepticism is that it will bring south street to the ave…

        lightly coded racism in all its glory

  • June 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Look at all of the south philly hipsters with all of the bright business ideas..why not another restaurant??? **wah wah* *bitch* *moan *grunt*

    • June 15, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Do we really need another restaurant? The Ave is overloaded with them, especially upscale ones.

  • June 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    More dumbass things brought to you by gentrification!

  • June 13, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Horrible idea !!!!! What a waste of money

  • June 14, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I think this is a really fun and forward thinking idea and am surprised at all the pointed negative comments here. First of all, if it’s not your thing, – fine. I’m sure nobody expects it to be for everyone. So don’t go if you’re not into, but at least have the integrity to not bash someone else’s project. Second, this is creative and unexpected, and the type of thing that gives a city flavor. I noticed the other models of this are in New York and Los Angeles. It adds a feature to the Phikadelphia experience and also creates an opportunity for social recreation that is experimental and not as typical as a bar or restaurant. Finally, As a retail shop owner myself, I do understand the sentiment of wanting another predictable business establishment situated there, but also think it’s important to consider that the novelty and innovation of this is actually a great way to draw a crowd of creative and open-minded people to Passyunk that may otherwise not make it a destination.

  • June 14, 2015 at 7:35 am

    This looks so awesome! Everyone I know is talking about it.

  • June 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

    It’s always the people who think outside the box that come up with the coolest ideas. I think this thing looks amazing and can’t wait to go.

  • June 14, 2015 at 9:58 am

    The negative comments are coming from the people who think they own the neighborhood cause they grew up there. This is a great idea. Get over it your neighborhood has changed for the better

  • June 14, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Super fun! A family friendly attraction, great for all ages. Interactive and nostalgic. Can we come dressed in 80s style? I’ve been needing a reason to get my hair crimper and acid wash jeans out of storage. Can’t wait to get a team together!

  • June 14, 2015 at 10:30 am

    really ? they are asking 32.00 for that lameness ? save your money and go to Stogie Joes across the street . youll get something worthwhile for your money and it will still be there in a few months

    • June 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

      But then you’ll be eating at Stogie Joes. Might as well just give $32 to the Ku Klux Klan and swallow a bag of nails. It’s the same effect in the end.

  • June 14, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I think this will add a fun and alternative option to Passyunk Ave. The fact that it is tied directly to neighboring restaruants via prizes is a plus.

    It is not much different than other non retail/ restaurant businesses such miniature golf, bowling or even movie screenings. In the end, if your attraction is connected to the rest of the community then people will enjoy it.

  • June 14, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Sounds like a blast !! Hope they have a Porkey’s peephole

  • June 15, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Love all these negadelphians crapping on 1) something they have never been to or experienced and 2) someone that is starting a business in a formerly vacant place which draws people to the neighborhood who will invariably utilize other businesses/services.

    But go ahead guys – keep complaining about parking, how crowded Pats is (or whatever crap sandwich you enjoy eating over the better options in the neighborhood), how you’d rather Bok were still vacant, and the “good ‘ol days” of depressed property prices, crime, and general urban decay. But remember to thank people such as the business owner for raising your property values (“oh the noes….gentrification!!”) when you invariably cash out and move to Florida.

  • June 15, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I don’t necessarily think the concept is a bad idea, but the price is a bit ridiculous. Granted, I have never participated in one of these Escape the Room games and I have no idea how they are typically priced, but I can absolutely tell you that I will never pay $32 for a game that will last maximum of 1 hour (or to be trapped in a room with potentially obnoxious people if I do not come with a full group of people). Perhaps I will attempt to see if a last minute game is open for the discount at $10, but even then I am not going to plan a night around the off chance that I can get in for a discounted rate.

    • June 15, 2015 at 11:13 am

      For me and my wife, it would come to $64 just to play this game which, quite frankly, I’d rather go and spend at a restaurant on the Ave

  • June 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I think this is a abosulte great idea !!!! Not all business up the ave have to be in F&B business. I do think this idea would absoulety bring more business to the area because it is a new concept I think doing this drunk is going to be blast ……………… I dont understan why people have to be so negative if you dont like the idea do post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that simple unless of course you want a agruement This is brought to
    you from someone born and raised in the area and never left.

  • June 15, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    This brings the avenue something it is missing which is entertainment. No need for the negative comments. It amazes me what riles people up on this site.

  • June 15, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Love that someone is finally doing something with this building. I think this is a cool idea, good luck to the guys putting this together, hope it works out!

  • June 17, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Honestly, this would be beneficial. Anything there is better than an empty eye-sore. People of all generations would most likely be interested in this. The Ave is already filled with different generations so why be opposed to this? In a shopping district that thrives for diversity and all walks of life to visit, why are you opposed? This would not take business away from you retail shopkeepers/small businesses or restaurants. New people would come and explore this attraction as well as the Ave if they did not visit before. So I’m for it. Being a part of a small family business, I say why not. If it doesn’t last it doesn’t last. Only time will tell. Goodluck to you

  • June 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve lived around here almost 50 years and I’m all for new and exciting venues for the Avenue but this is a stupid and lame idea and I grew up in the 80’s. I would never waste $32 to do something like this. What the Avenue needs is a real enterainment venue to go to after your done spendng your money at whatever upscale restaurant you ate at. They should have put something like a World Cafe Live there. A small, nice place with some good live entertainment.

    • June 19, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Live entertainment? What year is this? Who on earth in 2015 would want to go to the World Cafe over an escape the room? What are you, like 800 years old???

  • June 18, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Maybe do a deal with Groupon or Living Social to spread the word and offer discounted tix.

  • June 21, 2015 at 5:46 am

    The longevity of this business will be difficult to sustain. After initial hype and play, who wants to repeat being trapped in the 80s? ??

  • June 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I can’t wait for this to open! I am looking forward to going with my friends for fun and co-workers for a team building experience. Philadelphia needs more ideas/events like this!

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