The Crystal Maze was cult classic TV show in the 90s. Contestants had to make their way through ‘zones’, performing challenges to win crystals. At the end of the maze, the team exchanged those crystals for time in The Crystal Dome; the fans would start and they would have to collect gold tokens to win a prize.
Now, thanks to Little Lion Entertainment, anyone can put a team together, try their luck in the four zones, and face the fans at The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience (in London and Manchester).
We started our discovery process by taking a team trip experience the London maze. We could not have loved it more. We were blown away by the amazing level of detail and theatricality, all brought to life by our guide, a dedicated Maze Master.
We also travelled to Manchester to meet team from Little Lion Entertainment, to find out more about their audiences and their current ticketing journey.
We picked up on lots of ways the site needs to manage expectations, making sure audiences know how brilliant the experience is, but also the practicalities of how it will work and what they need to wear. Group visits are also really important. These bookers (usually one person on behalf of the group) need to know that everything will be taken care of; making this all work smoothly online would be vital.
Our experience, and other audience feedback, showed how important the Maze Masters are to people’s enjoyment. These are actors, each bringing their own character and charm. We knew we wanted to make them integral to the online experience too.
A particular technical challenge
The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience is an attraction unlike any other; they have unique requirements when it comes to booking tickets online.
At our workshop, we learned a lot about the behaviour of group bookers, the need to be able to split parties across time slots, variable pricing and the practical logistics of how to fill slots close to each other.
It was clear that untangling the complex ticketing process would be key to a successful site.
With the previous site, there were multiple technical problems and issues of clarity. The team at Little Lion were particularly frustrated at how often bookers would give up on the website half way through and ring them instead.
From a technical perspective, they need to load a huge amount of data into the website. Loading that amount data can quickly overload the servers and crash or stall the site; that’s what was happening on their previous site.
Switching to the Spektrix platform would help with the practicalities, but it was clear to us that we’d need to create something entirely bespoke with the Spektrix API, to make their combinations of groups and slots work seamlessly for the audience, and to carefully handle the amount of data we loaded into the site each time it was needed.
Our key idea from the start was to bring the Maze Masters to the fore, reflecting the experience. They can be used both to create excitement and personality, and give useful details. We’d seen first hand how the charismatic actors make the experience really special.
Visually we had to find a careful balance. We all wanted the site to have the qualities of an online game but we also had to marry that with needing to maintain The Crystal Maze aesthetic.
And if we wanted to show the genuine excitement of being immersed in this experience, we’d need plenty of video.
We started looking at how to integrate Spektrix early, sketching out the various steps and pathways. We were particularly looking at whether booking should be by date, by group, or both, as we balanced how Spektrix would handle the multiple tickets.
We integrate Spektrix into lots of theatre and performance sites so we’ve developed a set of tools to make the process more efficient. But for The Crystal Maze, we knew we’d have to develop an entirely bespoke integration. Group bookings, timed slots, variable pricing and the packages were integral to our thinking.
Most importantly, for group bookings, we needed to be able to instantly check availability and fill unused slots, all within the site.
Despite the UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown, we launched the site in June 2020. Fortunately the site we’d built was flexible enough to incorporate the social distancing limitations the venue had adopted in order to reopen.
We were delighted that a few weeks after the site went live, The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience reopened, and their audience were able to book tickets smoothly and play the UK’s most ambitious immersive game experience.
We are so proud of the balance between excitement and functionality that we were able to achieve.
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Launched: September 2019