The reboot of Channel 4‘s ’90s game show The Crystal Maze continues to attract high viewing figures on Friday nights. So if you’re looking for something a bit different for you and your friends to do, a visit to The Crystal Maze Live Experience ought to be added to any bucket list.
There are several event organisers in Ireland offering their own ‘Crystal Maze experience’, but The Circular went to check out the one which inspired them all: London’s Angel.
What is The Crystal Maze Live Experience?
Based in an unassuming old warehouse on London’s White Lion Street, The Crystal Maze Live Experience is an action-packed recreation of the TV show which was set around unlocking crystals in order to spend time in “The Crystal Dome” (basically a large wind tunnel where you need to grab bits of paper).
It opened in March 2016 following a large Crowdfunding campaign, and is one of the most famous examples of an “immersive live experience” – an event where you buy a ticket to take part.
The creators are aware that the TV show is now older than half the people playing it, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen it before: it’s a very simple format and they guide you through it. The Circular isn’t going to publish any spoilers, but you can expect a series of puzzles and giant board game-style challenges which are much more difficult than they look.
Games are categorised under Mental, Physical, Skill and Mystery, with four of each, and the captain nominates one person for each one. The rest of the team get to shout advice while the clock is ticking – which usually proves to be much less helpful than they think it is!
The TV show was famous for its fails – but you might find yourself making the same mistakes!
How long do you get? Are there any breaks?
There are 16 games, usually about three minutes long. Allowing for an introduction and The Crystal Dome, it’s over in about 75 minutes. It won’t feel anywhere near that long.
The reason it goes by so quickly is that you’re constantly either shouting at your friends or running to a new zone. If you really have to use the toilet or take some time out you can, but taking a break would detract from the experience slightly.
How closely does it resemble the TV show?
The creators have been loyal to the original TV show. It’s so realistic that a few episodes of the remake were filmed here.
At the start of the event they acknowledge that the Ocean Zone is missing, probably because people didn’t want to spend the rest of their day soaking wet. Lockouts have been pretty much dropped too: while they were funny to watch on TV, it wouldn’t be so funny if you had travelled all the way to London to spend the day locked in a fake prison cell.
What should you wear for it?
There are a lot of comments online that you will be forced to wear the trademark boiler suits seen on the TV show, which will make you unbearably hot. This has changed.
Bomber jackets are now handed out for a single posed photo only, instead you will be playing as you are dressed (a communal changing room is provided). Wear anything that’s suitable for an intense workout.
What are the Maze Masters like?
Each team is guided around the arena by a Maze Master, an actor who claims to have been bestowed with secret knowledge of the Maze. These people really understand the concept. They will adapt their style to suit your group, and will drop some pretty big clues if they take pity on your team’s puzzle-solving clues. They just want you to have a good day!
The whole experience relies on the hosts’ enthusiasm and pace. Thanks to this, you quickly forget you’re standing in a refurbished warehouse near Kings Cross. It is a really slick operation.
Is it hard or scary?
At the end of your experience you will feel like you’ve been constantly running, climbing and crawling – but the building isn’t that big! There are no big drops or tight spaces. Unless you have an extreme phobia, which you should discuss with them, there is nothing to worry about.
An introduction to Crystal Maze Live.
The rules state that you must be in a good state of fitness, as it’s a high-pace and exciting day. Although you don’t actually do a lot of running, as the adrenalin kicks in you will feel like you have. You need to be comfortable standing up for two hours.
If you volunteer for a “physical” challenge you would expect to be on your feet, but it’s not a marathon.
What do you get?
Other than a bit of golden paper, absolutely nothing. This is the beauty of it: it is an intimate experience you can share only with the friends you invited. Even online there are very few pictures of the inside of the maze: the maze is, it seems a secret not many will experience.
This leads to a contentious point. Mobile phones are banned from the Maze, and quite rightly: it would distract from the energy of the event and ruin the ’90s nostalgia if people were taking phones out of their pockets every two minutes. However people have paid a lot of money and travelled far to experience this, and understandably they may have liked a couple of photos to show for it.
At the end there is an empty bar and a very small gift shop which sells memorabilia, but this charges London gift shop prices (and then add a bit more). Nobody appeared to actually buy anything there.
How do I get tickets?
Head to the official website. It is built around teams of 8, but with few people you will get more chances to play.
Be warned that tickets start at £50 GBP and there is a very long waiting list.