Tasks from Zagreb Kids Escape Room to be Solved in United States

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, entering the United States of America, the world’s strongest economy, is an unfulfilled dream for many Croatian citizens, let alone entrepreneurs and business owners, which will in some ways be much easier to achieve when the needs for visas is revoked on December the 1st, 2021.

Kruna Josimovic is from Zagreb, she’s an author and the initiator of the Zagreb kids Escape Room, a playroom at the Zagreb Fair (Velesajam) for children aged 8 to 12. She’s looking forward to heading across the pond, because she has managed to export her concept, the only one of its kind in Croatia and all of Europe. Her escape room will find a home in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Variations on the topic of solving tasks in space and time are part of the entertainment and tourism repertoire in many cities, including Zagreb, and this has been the case for years, but it’s all mostly been for adults.

The peculiarity of this lies in the name – for children, from those who have just started school to the “preteen” generation, which is an increasingly lucrative category of consumers whose appetites, especially in America, are challenging to satisfy. Josimovic started this business, which will open franchises through the Bright Entertainment Group.

The first already exists in Podgorica, Montenegro.

“I accidentally discovered escape rooms in Zagreb, I did them all all and the concept delighted me. That sort of thing only appeared in this country five or six years ago and the target audience was adults, so the tasks, the elements, the “time limits” and the fact that you were left to work things out for yourself weren’t adequate for younger children,” says the entrepreneur, who has a wealth of experience with children to boast of. She therefore wanted to “translate” the model of decipherment through play, with an educational note, into the language of children, then came the proverbial birth of the Zagreb kids Escape Room.

“Researching the market, I saw that there’s something similar in Slovenia, but they gave up with the idea, so everything was up to me. We started with 80 square metres of space in Maksimirska, in the first year, I created three new themed rooms and due to great interest I moved to the current larger space we have now,” explained Josimovic.

Each room includes 10-15 tasks to be completed by a group of up to 9-10 children, which takes an hour, and the work is based on three things – the gamemasters (leaders) are with the children, they help guide them in solving the tasks, there are no limits and there is nothing intimidating in the rooms.

The current setup proves it – The Land of Sweets (on the theme of fairy tales, more specifically The Nutcracker), Aliens (exploring the planets and escaping from aliens) and Professor B. (a detective on the hunt for a miracle drink). A treasure hunt for 20 children will be introduced soon.

Unlike museums, theatres, exhibitions and the like where children have to be quiet, calm and not touch anything, here they have full freedom, everything is available to them and they can and must touch and open, view, explore, and use their brains,” the creator of the first Zagreb kids Escape Room explained.

Such a description also attracted Americans, more specifically the Bright Entertainment Group, which is present here in the Republic of Croatia with the Museum of Illusions, also an original Zagreb product that has expanded globally through franchises.

“As franchise expansion partners, they were thrilled with the content, they got in touch with Lol Entertainment, which operates predominantly in Chicago and Philadelphia, and presented the concept to them. Negotiations lasted for three years, they were slowed down by the pandemic, and no matter how much explanations were provided by emails and Zoom, they had to physically see what it looked like and we finally met just now, back in September,” Kruna explained, recalling the beginnings with the Americans.

They confirmed to her that they didn’t have anything of the sort, and that in examining the market for children aged 8-12, they concluded that it would “fit” them. In her project, she says, they recognised originality, innovation, play and education. Money was, of course, also a very important factor in it all.

“The whole story is also profitable, the ratio of what’s invested and what is returned is excellent. I can’t yet say how much they’re willing to invest. We called the franchise project the Cluville Kids Escape Room and the plan is to have at least one of them in Chicago by the spring, maybe two, and then two more in Philadelphia,” points out Josimovic.

Oman, Riyadh, Dubai, and Tel Aviv were all to follow, all on reconnaissance in Zagreb, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the expansion of this Croatian product into the Middle East, so, what does Kruna actually expect from America?

“My expectations aren’t small, it’s a great success to be able to sell something at all, let alone to someone who invented the entertainment and edutainment industry, but it’s very difficult to make something original and experience success like that here in Croatia,” she said.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.


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