Running amok at The Crystal Maze is probably every 90s kids dream. Well, last week this 90s kid got to do just that! I headed to Manchester last Thursday to take part in the Crystal Maze Experience for their pre-launch press day. It was definitely one of my highlights of March. Without giving away too many details, let me tell you what to expect at The Crystal Maze Experience.
The Crystal Maze Experience wouldn’t be complete without a wacky-yet-lovable maze master. Okay, no maze master will ever compare to Richard O’Brien. But when you have a rap-loving, tiger-dressing maze master by the name of Papa D, they’re going to be a pretty good contender. At the Manchester Crystal Maze Experience there is over a whopping 50 maze masters. I’m going to bet that they are all quirky and wild in their own way.
At the Crystal Maze Experience, much like in the original maze, there are 4 zones that you will battle through before reaching the infamous Crystal Dome. The four zones you’ll get to experience here are Aztec, Medieval, Futuristic and Industrial. You needn’t worry about having to do any swimming challenges as there isn’t an Oceans zone. But be warned, you’ll still get sand-filled shoes from the Aztec zone!
If you aren’t fully aware of the rules of the Crystal Maze, let me give you a quick run-down. As well as there being 4 zones, there’s also 4 different types of games. The game types that you’ll get the opportunity to play are Physical, Mental, Skill and Mystery. There’s a grand total of 26 games across the 4 zones. You’d have to impressively speedy to get through all 26 games. That’s great news as it means if you book to re-visit, there’s a slim chance you’ll do the same games over and over again!
The Crystal Maze is intended for teams of eight, so grab 7 of your friends for a fun-filled day out! The experience lasts about 2 hours. Get thinking about your strengths and the kind of game your best suited for. I knew that I’d be going for any physical games where possible and strictly avoiding any of the Mental games. Maths is not my strong suit so I left any chance of arithmetic challenges to the brainy team members! Before you step into the maze, get thinking of who would make the best team captain and vice-captain. After all, when you’re in the wildness of the maze, someone’s got to be in charge!
Much like the TV show, all of the games are for solo-play only. But do not fear, your team mates can shout nonsensical words of encouragement or profanities of frustration at you through the little viewing hatches. Some of the games are taken straight from the nostalgic TV show. Others are built on the games featured at the London Crystal Maze Experience and some games are completely new!
Now on to the crystals…each game you play is timed. If you manage to complete the game in the allotted time slot, you win a crystal! And what’s so great about crystals? Crystals mean time! For each crystal you win, you gain 5 seconds in the Crystal Dome. Start up the fans, please! The famous Crystal Dome is filled with fluttering gold slips that you and your team mates need to collect in order to gain points to make it onto the Crystal Maze leaderboard.
We started our Crystal Maze adventure in the Medieval zone. We got off to a pretty slow start, not winning a single crystal in either of our first two games. That was until your girl (me, duh…) had her opportunity to shine. I chose a Physical game, donned a helmet that was miles too big for my little pea-head and climbed into the game room. Without giving too much away, I had to run on a giant hamster wheel in order to gain my crystal.
I am pretty strong when it comes to physical activities- not to toot my own horn or anything but y’know self-appreciation and all that. My legs are actually my strongest part so you’d have thought running on a hamster wheel would be a breeze! Wow okay, let’s just say it was tiring as hell. I genuinely walked out of the game with a serious case of jelly legs. But, I also walked out clutching a crystal so the jelly legs were 100% worth it.
Don’t be fooled by what you’ve seen on the TV, the games are seriously hard! We probably played 16-18 games and only managed to secure 8 crystals. If you think the games are going to be easy, think again! I played 3 games and won 2 crystals (wooo, go me!). One of the games I played was obviously the aforementioned hamster wheel. The second game I played was in the Aztec zone.
The Aztec zone was built to an impressive scale. To get here we had to crawl through pipes and then wait for it…slide down a giant slide! Once in the Aztec zone, the Atzec temple stood before us on sandy grounds. Honestly, the Crystal Maze Experience is huge and the detail put into each zone is amazing. We completed several challenges in the Aztec zone. One of these was a rock-climbing game, won with ease by our nifty rock-climbing Captain. I had a go at a skill game, which tested out my slingshot skills. I’m not one with strong hand-eye coordination so this game was a total flop for me. I admitted defeat and left this challenge empty-handed.
In the futuristic zone, I was wowed by the space scenes that stood before me. Here, I took part in another classic Crystal Maze game – the laser beams. This game was an automatic lock-in game. These kind of games came with certain rules which if broken led to you being locked in the room. I had to complete my challenge without touching any of the lasers. I felt like I was taking part in my own spy movie as I ducked, dived and dodged the weave of lasers in order to reach the crystal at the end of the room. Once I reached the end, I grabbed the crystal and turned around to re-tackle the lasers and get out of the room. I was seriously impressed with my flexibility and agility in this game, turns out becoming a diamond-thief may be my calling in life.
The other zone, where I left the crystal-winning to my team mates, was the industrial zone! Here we tackled some fun-fair style games from a Richard O’Brien themed hook-a-duck to a industrial pipe sized Buzz Wire game. I was amazed at the thought and creativity that had gone into each and every game we witnessed.
Energy levels were at an ultimate high as we sprinted from game to game and through the zones. With our maze master keeping a secure hold on our 8 crystals, it was time for us to take on the Crystal Dome. Remember how I said crystals = time in the dome? Well, our total of 8 crystals meant we had a brilliant 40 seconds in the Crystal Dome. The dome differs ever so slightly from the real thing. If anything, it’s difference work in your favour too! At the Crystal Maze Experience there are only gold tokens, which means you don’t need to worry about potentially losing points by grabbing silver tokens. We climbed in the dome (feeling very giddy might I add!) and grasped onto the side awaiting the famous announcement to “start the fans, please!”.
As soon as the fans were alive, we were jumping around to grab as many gold token as possible. Some of us took the tactic of scooping, whereas others dashed around with their arms in the air. It was all a little bit chaotic which meant it was every bit entertaining! When our 40 seconds were up, we reluctantly left the Crystal Dome and made our way back to the entrance to see our scores before leaving.
I’m sad to say Crystal McCrystal Face were abysmal in the score department. We didn’t even come close to making the leaderboard! But it’s the taking part that matters and I had an absolutely amazing time. I would fully recommend you grab 7 of your friends and plan an epic 90s throwback trip to The Crystal Maze Experience. Although it sits a little bit on the expensive side at £55, it’s a fun day out that you definitely won’t forget. Plus, if you’re an avid Crystal Maze fan, it’s well worth the price to get your chance to play the game for real!