Back in the ’90s, British kids and adults alike would rush home to watch The Crystal Maze gameshow, hosted by the ever-charismatic Richard O’Brien. Participating in the game itself was a dream few people could ever realise.
Then, The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience opened in March 2016 and was meant to be a short pop-up. But once people realised they could finally live out their childhood fantasies of collecting crystals in mental and physical challenges, the event sold out for months in advance.
Organisers moved to another more permanent location in Islington for a while, but it still couldn’t meet the demand from die-hard fans – getting tickets was no easy feat.
But just recently hosts have set up shop at the Trocadero building in the heart of London’s West End. It has taken a whopping £5million to transform the space into an enormous labyrinth of games which can host three times as many people as the original Islington location – its even got its very own bar and dining area for post-gaming fun.
Inside the maze there are four distinct zones. Head through the Medieval, Futuristic, Industrial and Aztec levels before ending up in the iconic Crystal Dome.
One of the Maze Masters (each with their own persona) will guide the team of explorers through the zones, preparing them and teaching them how to play each game.
And each of these is also split up into four different categories – yes Brits clearly love organisation when it comes to play time. Each challenge fits under the umbrella of mental, physical, skill or mystery. And for every game you win, you get one of the coveted crystals. And each crystal you get gives you five seconds of time in the Dome at the end of the maze.
But they don’t make these games easy. They are seriously challenging. You’ll be thrust into rooms where you have to scale rock climbing walls around lethal ‘the floor is lava’ surfaces; you’ll ride around small circuits on motorised horses trying to joust with moving targets; and you’ll straddle a rocket as it spins around a room like a mechanical bull. Each and every game will test you in a different way – all the while being a whole heap of fun.
Just prepare to lose. If you walk in thinking you’ll win them all, you might just be disappointed. And that’s what makes the Crystal Maze LIVE experience so great. It’s not for kids. It is for adults who want to feel like kids again. It is the pinnacle of kidulting. And it’s bursting with nostalgia.
It is easy to get swept up in the spectacle as the Maze Master keeps the pace up, running around winding corridors, crawling through tunnels, climbing ladders, and falling down slides – all as you run from one challenge to the next. It is a proper workout, too. Prepare to sweat it out through the entire show.
The experience will culminate in your team entering a glass dome filled with golden tickets which whirl around you in the air, pushed on by large fans under foot. It is just like the game, however, the fans don’t quite make the tickets go all over the room. They tend to gather by the front door which is a little underwhelming. But you’re still in the dome full of flying golden tickets that you have to catch.
And it’s not only for the most religious Crystal Maze fans out there. You don’t even need to have heard of the show to enjoy it. In fact, that makes it even more exciting as some have absolutely no idea what is happening nor what is coming next.
It has also become a huge corporate attraction. Businesses bring their teams in for team bonding exercises while others host clients here for pure entertainment value – but we recommend no suits in the maze. This is about embracing your childish side after all. And it has got to be the best place to do so in London.
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