As a proud Nineties Kid (kids born in 1995 won’t understand) The Crystal Maze was pretty much an obsession of mine as a child. My sibling and I tried our best to create makeshift maze games in the comfort of our own home much to our parents dismay and settling down to watch an eagerly anticipated episode was significant event in our household as we all got involved in the telly-shouting antics and having our say on the outlandish hairstyles of some contestants.
This revival of The Crystal Maze in real life form cleverly panders to nostalgic twenty-somethings and above as well as providing skillful intrugue for thrill seeking youngsters who enjoy Manchester and London’s dozens of Escape games. A winning formula it would seem when combined with the fact that the experience is owned exclusively by it’s organisers and cannot be replicated and competed with in the way the many Escape games have seen in recent years.
The London Crystal Maze
Hopping on an off-peak Virgin Train from Manchester to London, we were off, accompanied by a host of other local press en route to try the Maze for ourselves. Arriving at Euston, we were informed that the Crystal Maze was a 15-20 minute walk away, but being the Captial swerving northerners that we are, all hopped in a taxi to relive navigational confusion.
The outer building leaves much to the imagination, giving no clear indication of the experience awaiting inside, with the exception of a cryptic Crystal logo on the wall of the reception room inside. Combined with the side street location it seemed understated upon first impression, leaving us wondering what lay in store on the inside.
Greeted by the reception team, we were directed to free use lockers to secure our belongings. Those hoping of an Aztec Zone Selfie will be disappointed to learn that the entire Maze is a phone-free zone, to ensure you fully immerse yourself in the experience whilst additionally not ruining the mystery of the games for those yet to give it a go.
Whilst waiting for our allocated time slot we relaxed in the bar area, which serves alcohol if you fancy a tipple before entering the maze (not advised) and general lunch snacks for activity sustenance. A retro Crystal Maze Quiz Machine is made available for free use to pass the time waiting for your turn, which proved in fact much harder than the Maze itself.
Our editors were then allocated a team (the self-titled Blue Mondays) and given a throwback branded Bomber jacket for good measure before entering the Maze in the Future Zone, lead by our intrepid Maze Master Byson. In the spirit of the game we won’t divulge exact details of the challenges visitors will face, however let’s just say the tasks mimic the show with a choice between Physical, Mental, Skill and Mystery games, with an appointed Team Captain choosing the best candidate for each game.
The zones are the same as it’s TV counterpart; Aztec, Futuristic, Medieval and Industrial, foregoing the more recent Ocean zone. Within each zone there is an allocated amount of time given to get through as many games as you can, allowing for an average of 4 games per zone. After watching the charity special on Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer I had presumed the levels looked easy, which I was soon proved wrong on after failing all of my games (no judgement please).
After our games were up we met the other teams (Orange, Green and Red) to compare crystals and do final battle in the replica Crystal Dome (which can be photographed by guests watching). Our 6 Crystals bought us a respectable 30 seconds in the dome, sadly though not enough time to win but come a pitiful third place. There is no prize for the overall winner and we were advised should our egos be bruised we could always lie about our result placing.
After your experience a gift shop also makes merchandise available for purchase, meaning you can take home a Crystal Maze Bomber Jacket yourself or real life crystal from one of the games.
The Crystal Maze London is located at 10-14 White Lion Street, Angel, London, N19PD with tickets available to book online.
The Manchester Crystal Maze Update
Manchester’s version of the Crystal Maze promises to be bigger and better than it’s London counterpart, even offering a longer play time of 90 minutes to London’s 75 for more time for your cash.
New look zones will cover the same themes: Aztec, Future, Industrial and Medieval, but will take an all new aesthetic for the Manchester venue, fit to suit the Old Granada location. 26 games will be offered, promising to differ to the London options, bar the laser game in Futuristic.
Each Zone will feature distinctive and captivating worlds within; Aztec will sweep from open plains with a giant, dominating temple to cascading rainforest with rope-bridge and a dark inner temple.
The Future of the past cannot be the future of the present; Little Lion have again re-imagined the Futuristic Zone, this time set to feature robots and an incredible outdoor Martian landscape.
All the fun and action of the Maze relies on the strength, complexity and downright madness of its games, those from the original TV Show were developed between creator Malcolm Heyworth and consultants from Mensa.
The Crystal Maze are delighted to announce the release of a new wave of tickets, available for general purchase from April – July 2017.