We Cracked The Crystal Maze - Manchester

4 May 2017

What do you get when you mix a bunch of grown-ups with a 90s game show, a mum that refuses to take a good photo, red bomber jackets and a room filled with pieces of foil? A whole barrel of laughs! If you've read my April gratitude list or if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I visited The Crystal Maze towards the end of the month. If you aren't from the UK, you may be thinking 'what on EARTH is The Crystal Maze?!' To put it simply, it was a game show from the 90s, where a team of people would play games to win crystals that corresponded to 5 seconds of time in the Crystal Dome each (I'll explain more as I go along or you can watch a full episode on Youtube). It was hosted by Richard O'Brien and it was just one of the best things on TV when I was little. So when my auntie bought us all tickets to go and actually play the game, I was super duper excited. My childhood dream of running around in the Crystal Dome and catching the tickets was finally going to come true!

I'll be very honest with you all, while I was ridiculously excited, I was also extremely nervous. We are very much a family of introverts, so the thought of doing a big group activity together terrified me. I was also scared that I'd be absolutely rubbish and we'd win no crystals at all. Let me tell you, I was silly to be worried. We had such a blast and I'd quite happily do it again (if it wasn't for the price).

The Crystal Maze we went to was in Manchester. There's another in London, but that's way too far for us to drive for a 2 hour experience. Because the Manchester one had only opened on the 1st of April, everything was still pretty brand new-looking and we felt kind of special to be visiting within a month of it's opening. It was a little bit a struggle to find parking nearby, as it's right in the city centre, next to the Museum of Science & Industry, but we managed! The maze is inside the old studios, so you have to walk through some old sets to get to the entrance, and as you walk down, you're able to see a Coronation Street set, which was pretty cool!
When booking the tickets, you have to pick a timeslot for your visit. Ours was at 1:55pm, but we were slightly late, so I think we ended up actually going inside the maze at 2:15pm-ish. My auntie had originally bought 8 tickets (a full team), but she had to pull out from coming in with us and my mum's partner decided he didn't want to go. It was a bit ungrateful of him, seeing as though the tickets were so expensive and non-refundable, but hey ho, his loss. So we ended up with a team of 6 - me, my sister, my mum, my boyfriend, my auntie's wife and my grandad - the dream team, pretty much! We all filled in our waivers as soon as we arrived, then we were ushered into a room where we could stow our stuff and try on the bomber jackets. Unfortunately, we weren't able to wear them in the maze, but I was thankful because it was so hot once we were running around! We were all encouraged to have a team talk to decide who our captain and vice-captain were, and the types of games we'd each like to play. I decided that skill or mystery would be my best, but there were also physical or mental to choose from as well.

Once we'd had our chat, we were then taken into a dark room with a screen that played a short film about the 90s and showed clips from the show. From behind a curtain in the corner of the room, our Maze Master, Billy Brooklyn, appeared and gave us all quite a fright. He was absolutely amazing the for the whole time that we were in the maze and didn't break character at all. He definitely made the experience! He took us round each zone (medieval, industrial, aztec and futuristic) and set us off in the games that our captain chose for us. First up was J, who chose to play a physical game. We didn't get off to a good start and it took us a couple of games to win a crystal, which came from my mum's skill game. It was a riddle-solving game that we could all get involved with via the windows on either side of the room she was in. She actually ended up winning a crystal in every single game she played, nabbing us 3 crystals for the dome!

It's such a shame that you can't take any photos or videos in the maze. I'd love to be able to show you all the sets, which were amazing, and all the different games we played. I also wish I was able to show you my grandad sliding down the side of a temple into the aztec zone, because I was practically cry-laughing! It's so out of his character and so we still tease him about it to this day! I understand that they'd like to keep it a surprise and don't want any secrets leaking out, but to have a picture in front of the big aztec temple or at the medieval dining table would be amazing.

When watching the TV show, it felt as though the people playing the games had loads of time, but when you're actually in the room, it goes so quickly! I played a skill game where I had to transport balls that were randomly dropped into horizontal, broken pipes by using a spinning mechanism to connect pieces of pipe to form a straight line - I'm not sure how else to best describe it, but that's the best I can do - and the time just zipped by! Just as I was leaving the game room, empty-handed, the crystal dropped into the basket where I needed to collect it, but the Maze Master had already locked the door behind me. I was GUTTED. I'd worked my butt off trying to spin the metal mechanism, only for the crystal to appear once I was out of the room! The other game that I played was no where near as successful, as it was a maths game and I'm horrible at maths. So yep, I didn't win any crystals for us at all, but at the end of the experience, we had 6 all together (would've been 7 if I was allowed to go back in and grab the one I won), which gave us 30 seconds in the Crystal Dome.
We also played a lot of games that were automatic lock-ins - for example, my sister played a physical game where she had to manoeuvre through a room filled with laser beams, Mission Impossible style, and if she touched the lasers 3 times, she would be locked in, even if her timer hadn't ran out. If we wanted to get her out, we'd either have to give up a crystal, which would lose us 5 seconds in the dome, or she could answer a riddle. J actually ended up getting locked in, but he took the riddle option, saving us our time!

Once we'd been around every zone, it was time for us to enter the Crystal Dome, a.k.a. every British 90s child's dream. This is basically a big, perspex dome in the shape of a crystal with a platform in the middle. At the base of the platform are fans that blow pieces of foil around you and you have to catch as many as possible and place them into letterbox before your time runs out. We all had to hold on to the railings around the platform and our Maze Master said those magic words, 'will you start the fans, please?' The wind started and the air was filled with shiny pieces of foil, then the signature music started to play and we darted about to grab as much as we could. This was so difficult, but I was belly-laughing the whole time. I think I was just overcome with the whole excitement of it all! We ended up with a score of 217, which was no where near the top score on the leaderboard of over 1000+, but for a team that wasn't full and included a pensioner, I'm pretty chuffed with that!

So all in all, it was a really great time. We all ended up very hot, some of us with achey limbs and sand in our shoes, but it was such a laugh and we all enjoyed ourselves - even my grumpy mum and grandad. The only downside to the whole thing is the price. While I didn't pay for it, £63 is a hell of a lot of money for one ticket, and considering that the tickets are non-refundable, my auntie ended up on losing out on over £120 because she couldn't do it and my mum's partner didn't want to. You don't even win anything at the end, not even a badge or a certificate or a little crystal like on the show. That and the fact that you can't take photos are the only negatives I have about the experience.

Did you watch The Crystal Maze? Would you ever try it for yourself?

Whould you like to comment?

  1. This DEFINITELY looks like a a ball of laughs and fun!

    It's unfortunate that the others had to back out/were unable to participate, but it still looks like you made the best of it!

    63 pounds is quite a bit...but it sells you an experience!

    Great post! Thanks for letting us in on your day!


    1. Ahh I wish I could've taken more pictures! It would've been so good to show everyone how fun it was! We definitely did make the best of it, and while having a bigger team might have won us more crystals, I think we did pretty darn well. Totally agree about the price - it's something that I'll never forget! x

  2. Sounds like an absolutely amazing time! I feel my friends and I would have an incredible time doing it, have you ever tried an escape room? I did one near Manchester with my family and (like you) was a little worried but it was actually super fun xo


    1. I've heard of escape rooms and there are couple close to where I live, but I've never been to one! I'd really like to though, they sound fab. Thanks for the comment! x