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Profile - June 2016

Fans Fuel Funding for London’s New Crystal Maze

by Juliana Gilling

The creators of The Crystal Maze raised more than £933,000 via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to bring the attraction to life. The Crystal Maze, which opened in London in March, recreates the hit ’90s British game show, originally devised by Malcolm Heyworth and hosted by “Rocky Horror Show” creator Richard O’Brien. In the original show, contestants pitted their wits and skills against timed games in four themed zones—Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic, and Medieval—gathering crystals to win time to compete for prizes in The Crystal Dome.

Tom Lionetti-Maguire, Ben Hodges, and Dean Rodgers of Little Lion Entertainment, three fans with theatrical and events experience, wanted to bring the Maze back. Gregory Fittock later joined as production director.

Visitors (over age 18) can relive the excitement of the television show in an interactive experience, guided by a Maze Master. The 30,000-square-foot venue hosts four teams of eight people; the action lasts around 90 minutes. Afterward, players can relax in the bar overlooking the Dome. Tickets cost £50 on weekdays, £60 on weekends. MDM, Artem, Helix, and Cutting Edge were on the project team.

Tom Lionetti-Maguire shares his thoughts on process of creating a fan-supported attraction:

•  Crowdfunding: “It allowed us to see what the mood was toward ‘The Crystal Maze.’ We wanted to see if people loved and remembered it as much as we did. Crowdfunding is a really good way to rally a community around your project, allowing you to do something truly creative. There was no blueprint for building the attraction. The idea of Crystal Maze as a live, immersive experience, even, was totally bonkers. But that’s why it was perfect for crowdfunding because people voted with their hearts. It was a leap of faith and it’s paid off.”

•  Incentivizing supporters: “We said, ‘You get to be one of the first people through the door.’”

•  Visitor experience: “Malcolm (Heyworth) said, ‘Don’t deviate in any way. Just make the show again.’ That’s exactly what we’ve done.”

•  Future funding: “As long as we sell tickets, we’ll stay open. It’s a typical theatrical business in that sense.”