A childhood dream of mine has recently come true, and it all started with the iconic phrase ‘Start the fans, please!’. Of course, that dream is the Crystal Maze, the programme that we all grew up watching on a Friday night back in the 1990s. The show, hosted by the eccentric and in my opinion, pretty wonderful Richard O’Brien was a show that holds such fond memories for both my sister and I. Shouting at the TV screen, telling the contestants to move it to the left and jump to grab that all important crystal that would lead them to the crystal dome. I wanted to wear the jumpsuit, I wanted to watch a game through the little windows and I wanted to run through the maze that’s actually not a maze, but four connecting zones. For all you 90’s kids who want to bring your childhood to life, then you need to head to The Crystal Maze Experience in Manchester. Quite possibly one of the best evenings out I’ve had in such a long time.
I was lucky enough to attend the 1st Birthday party in Manchester, and I wasn’t actually sure what to expect. I got excited just walking down to the venue as you have to walk past the old Coronation Street studios, which at that point were still intact but in the process of starting to be torn down. Reaching the venue, a large image of my hero Richard was painted on the wall outside. The excitement was rising. Heading into the venue, we were taken to the lockers where we had to store everything – no phones inside the maze unfortunately. Pictures taken underneath a ‘Start the fans please’ board whilst wearing team jackets and holding signs to show our intentions, before we we taken, with the rest of our team, into the maze. I took my two work colleagues, whilst Gina from Culture Bean brought her dad, Dave and two gals from Pretty52 made up the team. We named ourselves ‘The Friday Conundrum’ because well, why not!
Heading into the maze, with the iconic music playing throughout, it really was a goosebump moment. Guided by our Maze Master, Marty McLie (who was absolutely fantastic), we headed through the zones. We managed to play around 14 games over four zones, and came out with a not too shabby 8 crystals. Out of the four teams playing, we scored highest with the number of crystals that we scored, although the maze really did highlight how equally intelligent and stupid we were. Roman numerals are not my friend, whilst pie fillings left me perplexed. We experienced giant hamster wheels and chess boards, a deep ball pool filled with just a handful of coloured balls, skill games to get your thinking, and a cart on a train track game that has had me laughing for weeks. Marty was a brilliant character, keeping us entertained throughout. He had a great sense of humour and he really made the evening special.
Taking our eight crystals to the Crystal Dome, we got the 40 seconds to try and catch as many tickets as possible. In the experience, the silver tickets aren’t minused from the gold so the full total is calculated from what has been deposited in the box. Now, I have always spent my life thinking that it looked so easy on the TV, but I can tell you, it really isn’t as easy as it looks. The fan is intense and catching slivers of metallic paper does not make for an easy task. Even trying to deposit it through the letterbox posed a problem. That being said, it was absolutely brilliant to try it for myself.
I had such an amazing time that I want to go back and play again with my sisters, as I know that they will love it just as much as I did. I just hope that we get Marty next time we go round the maze.
The Crystal Maze Experience Manchester tickets start at £29.99 but do fluctuate depending on the day, with weekend slots being of a higher price. You can book an individual ticket, or in groups, whilst corporate event tickets are also available. What an awesome team building day that would be.
Thank you to the team at Crystal Maze Experience for inviting me to celebrate the 1st Birthday with you!
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