February 18
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A Guide to the Greatest Escape Artists to Ever Live

A Guide to the Greatest Escape Artists to Ever Live

Houdini, Dietrich, and Santini – familiar names to most. What do these three have in common? Strength, quick wits, flexibility, and patience. Though many know the names of the greatest escape artists to ever live, few know the depth of daring, height of sensational danger, or grandest achievements accomplished by the greatest escapology masters. In the content below, we will dive into the lives of the greatest escape artists to ever live!

A Brief Exploration of Escapology

Be definition, escapology is the practice of escaping from traps, handcuffs, coffins, boxes, tanks, or some perilous combination of restraints. Performers have practiced escapology for years. In the mid-1800s, the Davenport Brothers stunned viewers with escapee phenomena and other illusionists followed suit. However, it was not until Harry Houdini entered the scene that escapology grew in popularity as a recognized entertainment. To kickstart our guide to famous escape artists, Houdini is a great place to begin.

Harry Houdini

“The greatest escape I ever made,” Houdini once joked, “was when I left Appleton, Wisconsin.” Despite his comical claim to fame, Houdini is known as the greatest escape artist to live. Before his death in 1926, Houdini escaped chains, padlocks, handcuffs, stocks, and graves. He performed through the U.S., Europe, and around the world, spreading a reputation for magnificent stunts. Though known for dozens of impressive tricks, many escapologists would agree that his Belly of a Whale Escape is most notable.

Belly of a Whale Escape

While in Boston, Houdini was challenged by businessmen to escape… from a whale’s belly. As per Houdini’s normal routine, his challengers demanded that Houdini be handcuffed and shackled in leg-irons. Then, he would be sewn inside a whale’s belly. Houdini accepted the challenge, probably without so much as blinking an eye. Who thinks twice before rising to such a challenge?

After the great escape artist was shackled and sewn inside the whale, the giant fish was tightly wrapped in chains. Viewers watched with batted breath and racing hearts for fifteen agonizingly long minutes. Soon, they saw Houdini emerge from the belly of the whale with a broad smile.

Dorothy Dietrich

Dorothy Dietrich is yet another great escape artist, known for crossing boundaries no female stage magician crossed before. She caught a bullet in her mouth; she escaped a straitjacket while suspended from a burning rope. Some even refer to her as “The Female Houdini,” her childhood hero and escapist inspiration. Dorothy was dedicated to breaking down barriers between men and women in the realm of escapology – and she succeeded.

Dean Gunnarson

An escape artist from Canada, Dean Gunnarson rose to popularity due to his propensity for daring, life-threatening stunts. Among his most famous is a trick called the “Car Crusher.” During this stunt, Gunnarson was chained and handcuffed to the steering wheel of a car being lifted into a crusher with moments to escape before being compressed with the vehicle. He always managed to make a harrowing escape – just in time. In Houdini-fashion, he was buried alive, emerging from his living grave two days later.

Robert Gallup

An American escape artist, Gallup is known for “extreme magic.” Like Gunnarson, Dietrich, and Houdini, Gallup prefers life-threatening tricks to stun his audience. Gallup is best known for his “Skydive Chain Escape,” a trick sure to send shivers down the spine of anyone who fears heights. During the “Skydive Chain Escape,” Gallup was hurled from an airplane at 14,000 feet – chained, handcuffed, and covered in padlocks.

Steve Santini

Steve Santini stands out from the rest due to his obsession with bizarre, macabre stunts – earning him the title “The Dark Master of Escape.” He often blasted heavy metal music during his stage performances. He has escaped from jails and dungeons while navigating chainsaws, explosives, and other deadly weaponry. His most dangerous, most impressive stunt?

The Cremation Chamber

Santini himself described the lofty trick: “Once I’m secured inside the vault, a metal box will be bolted over the top of the handle and dial on the outside of the door preventing my staff from a quick rescue, should it be needed. Other precautions have also been taken to make the vault as escape proof as possible. On the inside of the vault door, the steel plate that covers the lock that is normally removable has been replaced with a single sheet of steel so that there is no access to the mechanism on the door. On three sides of the vault are propane flamethrowers that will be turned on once everything is secured outside, sending flames pounding against the metal sides and back of the vault. This one’s going to be the toughest of my career.” When Santini revealed his stunt to the world, the world wondered how he would survive. How did he plan to escape?

Of course, Santini did flee the flaming tomb, proving to be a true master of extreme escapology.

David Blaine

David Blaine is known for patience and endurance in extreme trial. His most famous include ice and altitude. He famously survived encasement in a block of ice for 63 hours. For 44 days, he hung from a closed case 30 feet above the River Thames.

We wonder what Londoners may have thought about the strange case, hanging precariously above the river for over a month. Did they know the escapologist David Blaine was inside?

Roslyn Walker

Known for exceeding the bounds of what was thought possible, we must mention Roslyn Walker, world record breaker. In 2011, Walker escaped from nine handcuffs in one minute, eventually leading to escaping from 677 handcuffs in a single hour.


What do each of the greatest escape artists have in common? Patience, brilliance, and pulse-pounding thrill. Today, the most talented escape artists are often dubbed “Modern Houdinis.” Are you up for a challenge like no other? EscapeWorks is dedicated to creating riveting, heart-racing challenges – that must be solved in 60 minutes or less. Book a room today for an unforgettable adventure, Houdini!

The Reviews

  • review rating 5  We came here for my birthday with a group of 11. We did the flower shop escape room and had a wonderful time. The clues were great and challenging! Emilia was a wonderful host and it was a pleasure having her lead our group. We didn't escape, but had a great time. We were 1 clue away! I would definitely like to try another room at this location. It was creative and challen, but not impossible. Thanks for a great night!

    thumb Tiger Lansing

    review rating 5  Really fun room! We barely made it out with seconds to spare! If you are willing to put yourself into the moment I cannot recommend Outbreak enough! Devon was out attendant and she was absolutely amazing and made sure that we all had a good time!

    thumb Taysia Brinkley
  • review rating 5  Went as a group for a team building exercise and did the Outbreak room. The puzzles were challenging and complex but we did manage to escape! It was a great time and a really immersive experience. Thanks to Sierra for sending us hints that were helpful enough to get us unstuck but didn't just give away the game.Overall a really great experience!

    thumb Matt Kemmerer

    review rating 5  The staff were very helpful and fun people. We did the beyond the flower shop room theme which was designed well even for our large group of 12 people, but I could see all group sizes enjoying this room. I appreciate the attention to detail to the escape room and the challenges placed throughout. The experience was worth it for our team-bonding event, and I highly recommend this for all types of people. Thanks for all the fun!

    thumb Melissa Rausch
  • review rating 5  Came here for my birthday and it was a blast! Super nice people. We did the Casino Heist and it was definitely challenging but they did give us clues along the way. Can’t wait to go back!

    thumb Samantha Kendrick

    review rating 5  This was our second time down and both times were so much fun! This time we did the Christmas Story room and it was a blast! Great elements from the movie, challenging puzzles but also fun for the kids. Amelia was a fabulous guide! We are looking forward to trying other rooms in the future for sure!

    thumb Deanna Silva
  • review rating 5  We had so much fun at the Casino Heist room today! Savannah was amazing. The team has created difficult challenges and drop hints that are just enough to move you forward. We can't wait to go back and try another room!

    thumb Annah Patterson

    review rating 5  Emilia was fun, helpful and friendly. My husband and I were joined by a family to attempt an escape out of the Egyptian Tomb and unfortunately failed {if only we had 2 more minutes and we would have escaped!} but had a fun time and would definitely recommend!

    thumb Emily Smith
  • review rating 5  EscapeWorks Denver was a great team building event. We did Outbreak and it was very challenging for the entire group. Amelia and Savannah were great setting up the room and explaining our mission. Overall a fantastic experience and highly recommended.

    thumb Nicholas Hernandez

    review rating 5  Super fun night at EscapeWorks Denver in The Christmas Story room. Lot's of great details from the movie make this a really fun puzzle to solve! Chloe did a very nice job providing the set-up instructions and threw out just enough clues to keep us on track. Great holiday fun!

    thumb Kristi Wimbish
  • review rating 5  We completed the zombie outbreak room. It was well thought out and challenging. Sierra was great too! I highly recommend and we'll definitely return!

    thumb Dawn

    review rating 5  Great price, staff is friendly. My friend and I had a blast and will definitely be coming back! Selina is an awesome game master! I highly recommend this activity!

    thumb Cheyenne Wetter
  • review rating 5  I’ve tried many escape rooms before and this one is by far my favorite! Not only was our room so well put together & exciting, but the staff was also amazing. Emilia was so great, she helped us get set up and made us feel so welcomed and excited to start our room. The room we did was meant for up to 12 people, so since it was just my boyfriend & I she helped us out a little bit. Emilia and the rest of the staff are wonderful. Highly recommend trying this place out!

    thumb Cassie Yarbrough

    review rating 5  I brought my family here when they were in town for the holidays and it was a great experience. Staff was friendly, well-organized, and generally helpful. The room was fun and challenging, with way above-average decor that really sold the scenario. The puzzles were pretty unique from what I've seen and the hint system kept things from being frustrating for too long, without being intrusive. I've done both Egyptian Tomb and Antidote and both were great.

    thumb Matt Rendall
  • review rating 5  This place is A TON OF FUN! It was my first time doing a live escape room and I will definitely be doing many more because of the experience that I had here. Devon and Trace were our hosts and I absolutely love the presentation and humor that they brought to the experience. It was myself and one other person in one of the easier rooms and we just barely made it out in time. It was a great challenge and a blast of a time. I would HIGHLY recommend this place if you are looking for a fun challenge with friends or some bonding time with a significant other. 10 out of 10 for sure! Thanks gang! Keep up the good work!

    thumb josh Gabriel

    review rating 5  Troy and Tommy Bohan with my son Paul Garcia-Lance and myself had the best of times trying to get out of the Egyptian tomb. We were seconds away but fell short of solving the mystery and we’re buried alive. Thank you so much for an enjoyable evening and a special shout out to Taylor and Sierra who moderated our adventure ! We have to return for our group picture and another great adventure!

    thumb Susan Lance
  • review rating 5  My group almost missed the entrance at first which you have to buzz into, but the staff were so helpful! Selena and Matt greeted us, had us sign waivers, and gave a few tips quickly so that we had as much time as possible! They were great at giving us helpful and creative hints throughout. We made it out with almost 10 minutes to spare! Some of us had been to an escape room before and others hadn't, but the outbreak room was just right for us! Thanks so much for a great time!

    thumb Vonnie Slater

    review rating 5  Juan was an absolute gem. We had such a great time. It was challenging, exciting, and a blast. Thanks again Juan for making our experience incredible, we will absolutely be back.

    thumb Claire Schultz
  • review rating 5  Had a great time doing the escape room here. It was challenging and fun. Matt ran our group and did a great job preparing us. Super fun time! I would definitely go back and try one of the other rooms! They have a few.

    thumb Sam Saslow

    review rating 5  We had a blast! We originally did the Casino Heist, however, there were some complications with the room. Dice and Emilia provided us with wonderful customer service and had us do Outbreak instead. We appreciated how much they cared about experience and we ended up having a great time. Highly recommend if you’re in the downtown Denver area and looking for some fun!

    thumb BreAnna Fraser

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Escapeworks Denver is CLOSED

EscapeWorks Denver is temporarily CLOSED due to the unprecedented Coronavirus outbreak and response. We plan to remain closed through April 16, but that date may move depending on conditions.

Although we believe Escape Rooms offer one of the safest ways to have fun in small groups, for the safety of our employees and in the interest of helping to stop the spread of COVID19 we are closing our doors until it is safe and prudent to reopen. In lieu of refunds, please understand that we will be issuing booking credits good for any time of day for those who have bookings on our calendar between now and April 16. WE WILL REOPEN and honor all existing bookings as credits.

If you are interested in booking a team building event for later than April 16, please email tb@escapeworksdenver.com or fill out the form on this page and we will get back to you.

Sincerely, your EscapeWorks Denver Team.