The Crystal Maze Live Experience brings 90s nostalgia to life
The Crystal Maze is an institution of British television. Starting in 1990, it is a programme which millennials grew up watching and longed to take part in themselves. However, a year prior to the TV reboot, a crowdfunding campaign raised funds for a Crystal Maze open to the public.
Having raised an impressive £933,700 ($1,230,000), the Crystal Maze Live Experience found a home on London’s White Lion Street. However, now bigger and better, the new maze is located on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Like the television show, the live experience sees teams of contestants navigate a labyrinth of games and puzzles to collect crystals which are eventually exchanged for time grasping for flying foil tokens in the Crystal Dome.
The maze is divided into four zones - Aztec, medieval, industrial and futuristic. All phones are surrendered (the maze won’t wait for your ‘gram story) however, for added entertainment - and to guide you on your journey - is your very own Maze Master. Ours had the charm and decorum of an Edwardian time traveller, which seemed fitting.
First up was the medieval zone where, as captain, I had to decide who would be the first team member to face a challenge. Having chosen wisely, my victim was suitably panicked during what was actually a rather simple challenge. Others in this zone were harder and involved skills such as archery and jousting. However, even getting from one zone to the next can be a challenge and may involve running, crawling or sliding.
Games are divided into Mental, Physical, Mystery and Skill. Each game takes two to three minutes to completed and is always against the clock. In some games, there is an automatic lock-in situation. This means if the time runs out before the contestant leaves the room, they will be locked in (unless you pay for their release with a crystal).
Further highlights included the sudden change of surroundings when you enter the carefully crafted futuristic zone and, in the Aztec zone, watching a team member try to navigate a rolling log-style gangway while carrying a bucket which, due to its many holes, was pouring out the sand we needed to transfer (a nightmare scenario by anyone’s standards). The same intrepid explorer then had to face the rocket-shaped bucking bronco.
Of course, there is only so much I can say without giving the game(s) away. However, eventually, it was time to cash in our 11 crystals for almost one minute in the Crystal Dome. As an army of unseen fans whir into action, the thousands of foil tokens on the floor suddenly whip around you, becoming near-impossible to catch. However, we proudly had the highest score on the scoreboard (until it was beaten a mere five minutes later).
The Maze is actually located in the historical Trocadero building (formerly the country’s largest games arcade), the stone walls and winding staircases giving the neutral spaces a sense of gravitas. In fact, during one challenge our Maze Master quietly pointed out that one of the rooms was once the entrance to a bank vault - when the building had played host to a casino.
In fact, by providing plenty of wit and enthusiasm the Maze Master truly made the experience. Overall, it is a great evening out, whether for teambuilding purposes or just as an excuse to put your friends on the spot as they complete ludicrous challenges.
The Crystal Maze Live Experience is running now in London and Manchester. Prices start at £55 ($72) per person