The Crystal Maze – Manchester – a preview

crystal maze pic

Way back on the night of February 2nd, a message popped up on my Twitter feed, and intrigued, had a look to see what it said… A PM from Escape Quest’s Mike, unusual and yet not so, we do chat occasionally about football, escape rooms et al, yet this one was slightly different. I got as far as reading would you like to play a preview of the Crystal Maze with us, the answer naturally being hell yes!! After a few minutes of hyperventilating with excitement, as the Crystal Maze was one of the few non sport TV shows I watched as a kid, I looked at the rest of the team. As well as Mike and Elaine, Mike’s brother Phil, Amy and Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit fame, and 2 people I didn’t know, Sera and Sharon. I soon found out that these 2 had taken the escape game scene by storm, and were well into the 200+ games played ( and on the way to play in the Red Bull Championships the following day). Not a bad team if I say so myself!! I’ve played over 50 escape games, and as such, was the least experienced member of the team!!

botanist pic

Over the course of 6 weeks, the excitement grew, and we decided to meet up in advance for food and to meet as a team, where we ended up at the very good the Botanist on Deansgate, where we spent a good 90 minutes turning up at random and eating not a lot.. I think we were all hungry but not wanting to eat too much for what was to come!!

A nice stroll along a now raining Deansgate and before long, we approached the Crystal Maze!! As this was a preview, I had in my head that this wasn’t going to be anywhere near the finished article, so I was telling myself not to be disappointed in any way. In truth, I was pretty much blown away from start to finish. From being greeted at the front gates to the end, every member of staff we talked to were extremely welcoming and positive, interested in us and going out of their way to ensure we had a good time. There were smooth handovers ensuring we got to the right place at the right time, and after the waiver sign offs, we were putting on the magical bomber jackets ( just for photos), and getting ready for the final health and safety talk, and most importantly of all, our team name…. which ended up being S2BritofanEscapeQuestAddict(+Phil&Ian) – seriously, don’t ask!! Lockers were provided for anything you bring with you, as obviously, no cameras etc are allowed inside! We also had to choose our captain and vice captain, and we basically made Elaine and Mike perform this duty 😉

crystal maze preview pic
Just had to choose this one, sorry Elaine!

I knew we were in the final briefing area, as they had a 2 sided mirror, seats for us all to sit, and a screen showing off clips of the TV show, and then BANG out of nowhere, our game host arrived, known as a “MAZE MASTER”, who stays with you on your trip through the game. We had the wonderfully named Billy Brooklyn, who as the name suggests, played an old school New Yorker, and he was basically perfect, the accent was amazing, he played his character to perfection and was precisely the right amount of insanity and madness that one remembers from the TV show.

crystal maze map pic

Then, after the whole of us cracking up laughing with just how good Billy was, we were off into the game!! We hit 4 zones in order, Medieval, Industrial, Aztec and Futuristic. Out of the 4, Aztec hit me hardest with how faithfully it had been replicated, as well as the actual entrance to it. Medieval was also very well replicated, Industrial had probably the most impressive game mechanics, and Futuristic was definitely that, although perhaps necessarily different to the TV show.

crystal dome pic

We played approx 18 rooms in all, and managed to get 12 crystals. I was fortunate to get 2 rooms I was extremely comfortable with, the first being an extremely famous puzzle in a film ( no mentions obviously), the second, a maths based one which is my strength. Therefore 2 crystals 🙂 For each zone, we had approx 15-20 mins and then we were into the famous Crystal Dome!! Our hard work and teamwork paid off, where we ended up with a smashing score of 280 tickets collected, which in the previews, was joint 3rd ( only 5 behind the joint 1st)… we did also more or less break the scoring screen with our ridiculously long team name!! After the game, there’s an opportunity to buy merchandise   (which on my NEXT visit will be explored when I have more time).

crystal maze leaderboard pic

Were there any negatives? Naturally, as one would expect in a preview. The final game we played in Futuristic didn’t work, there was very little music playing ( ie the theme tune, until the very end), the first transitions were just going upstairs ( could be themed maybe?), and the game re-setters ( which with the timescales they have need to be about we know will be time pressured) needed to be a little less obvious and continue adding to the experience ( some were a little grumpy).

All in all, considering it was a preview, it was simply fabulous. Naturally, you don’t see all the games in one visit, and with differing maze masters,  there’s a damn good replayability factor! I, for one, will definitely be back!!

Prices are £45pp off peak and £55pp peak.

A massive thanks to Elaine and Mike for asking me to join them, the members of the team as we all got along well and had a great laugh, and for the Crystal Maze people, especially our Maze Master for providing an epic experience.

 

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A totally different review from usual

As it’s not about an escape game!!

Way back at the start of this blog, one of my mentions is that I’m a HUUUUUGGGEEEE Man City fan, but due to work and spending my cash on many other things, I don’t tend to be able to go more than a couple of times a season, and since I’ve never seen City lose since moving to the Etihad, I should really go more often!

city-stadium

At approx 4pm I saw the following…

We have a table for four in Legends for tonight’s game. All you have to do is Follow and RT! Winners picked at 5pm!

Thought what the hell…. and….

Congratulations your day has just got a little bit better!

So totally not expecting that! Left as soon as I could to get to the ground asap, as well as trying as quickly as I could to get friends to come, unfortunately, at short notice, I couldn’t manage to grab anyone available 😦 I also got stuck in some horrendous traffic into Manchester, therefore only managed to get in the ground, thoroughly shattered, for half 7. Was very quickly seated with Nicola, the winner of the 2 seat table @Only1NicolaMCFC, and she very quickly wolfing down what looked an awesome main course, I just had a quick coke to try and recover from the ridiculous speed walk from Manchester!

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On to the game, seats obviously fantastic and a cracking view, dodgy start to the game, was always confident though, as KdB looked on fire, and he helped orchestrate more or less all the attacks. Managed to get a decent video of the penalty ( which won’t upload), half time was so so different, going back inside to sit down with a pre-ordered drink at the table. Stunning service. Nicola helped herself to a couple of desserts as I just chilled. Second half, barring the early scare, was pretty straightforward and a comfortable win.

Unfortunately, as I was up this morning at 5:30am, I couldn’t stick around afterwards. I had a bloody good time, and really really REALLY want to experience it all again. Just a couple of regrets, the short notice ( even though completely understandable), the damn traffic and missing most of the hospitality + legends. 40th next year so I think that’s what I’ll be doing!!

A massive thanks to all those involved at Cityzens and Man City for providing such an awesome experience!!