“Will you start the fans please!”

It’s the year 1993. Jurassic Park just landed on the big screen, Mulder and Scully were solving crime for the first time, and Meatloaf would just about do anything for love (but he won’t do that).

In a time of floppy disks and inflatable furniture, before iPhones and Netflix, TV was the most exciting source of entertainment, and rushing home for your show was serious business, and one show was most adrenaline pinching of all… no, not Supermarket Sweep.

The Crystal Maze was the real deal for kids in the 90s. This was a time when we had a choice of either watching something with a hyperactive puppet in, or some weird old bloke dressed up in an animal costume. The only other options were the scary ones like the Demon Headmaster, which I can’t even watch now, unless in broad daylight, hid behind a cushion, surrounded by people and with a clergyman in attendance.  

If you have been living under a rock for the past 30 years, here’s a breakdown. A team of very 80s looking young adults (think names like Donna and Trev), usually led by an accountant with a mullet as team captain, venture into the Crystal Maze. They are led by a bald man who dresses in regalia and spontaneously erupts into solos on his harmonica. Each team member tries their hand at the maze’s challenges to earn crystals, which symbolise time in the ‘Crystal Dome’ – the final round of the maze.

I wanted a lot of shit when I was a kid. No school, a pet rabbit, the ability to fly. But above all that I wanted to be a contestant on the Crystal Maze. Imagine my luck when 20 years later (along with a lot of crowdfunding), this very opportunity presented itself. 

Introducing the (newly renovated) Crystal Maze Live Experience at London’s Trocadero, otherwise known as the most excitement you can experience in 75 minutes without breaking a law. 
The production value (a cool £5million) is enough to make any escape room champion piss themselves with excitement. A full scale size replica of the original set reunites the four zones from the show – Medieval, Aztec, Future and Industrial, each laden with a series of games to conquer in order to release the crystal and allow maximum time in the dome to win the top prize.

We can’t reveal too much about the games (Mumsie’s the word!) but they fall under the original categories of skill, mystery, physical and mental. Since technology has advanced a little since 1990 BC (Before Computers), they’ve added a few modern twists on some of the 32 challenges but this is still 90s nostalgia at its best. Each team of eight get the chance to win 16 crystals across the four zones. Expect the usual enthusiastic running in between zones to the perky theme music, crawling through tunnels and down surprise slides. 

So, stop scrolling through Instagram, put down your iPhone, turn off Love Island, and take the opportunity to remember what it feels like to be a kid again. And if that’s not enough of a reason, they now have a bar there too. 

Words by Sam Johnson

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