Hidden House

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Typically if I'm engaging in a bit of retail therapy on a trip to London I head for one of the markets, my favourite being up in Camden. If though I'm feeling a little more mainstream my favourite place to head for is the Westfield centre in Stratford. Well this Christmas there's a big extra incentive to pay a visit in the form of a seasonal horror maze called Hidden House.

I'd already pre-booked my tickets before getting to Westfield. The event was being widely advertised throughout the mall, although the advertising did lack clear direction on how to find it in the large mall. Luckily I'd got there early and had time to find it located in the third floor food court before my time slot. There are 2 different versions of the event on offer. One version earlier in the day is suitable for younger visitors, presumably with fewer live actors, and the more adult version which I did is in the evening.

The theme of the maze is of dark fair tales, the story being you searching for Little Red Riding Hood, trying to find her before the Big Bad Wolf finds you. It helps if you know this before hand as the set up is a little confusing. You start being led in to a well done spooky cabin where an enthusiastic actor sets up the story before sending you out into the woods. This area consists of lots of artificial Christmas trees you walk through. For the small space they've done a good job of creating a spooky walk through the woods. It's a shame they didn't have more space though as the idea here could be expanded to a maze in it's own right.

It's in the cabin at the end where the mazes biggest innovation occurs though. In here an actor asks you a riddle with an ambiguous answer. You can choose from 3 different doors, depending on what answer you choose. This sees the large group splitting up to explore different parts of the maze. Thinking about it, it's also a good marketing move, as it could encourage repeat visits for people who want to see all the maze.

We got a large crypt where Snow White's body was lying at rest. This was a good section with a few clever surprises I won't spoil. the trouble was afterwards we came to a sparsely decorated room with some locked doors where we were stuck for quite a while before someone from another group opened the door for us. Even then we were stuck in the same place for a while as there was a lot of unintentional confusion of where to go next until an actor came out to round us up. Something really should be done about this as being stuck with nothing going on did take your head out of the experience. Once we were rounded up we were taken into the last room where a spooky finale ended the maze.

Overall I think they've just about pulled things off. They did come dangerously close to trying something more ambitious than they could pull off in the space available, but they've avoided this folly and created a good spooky horror maze that tells a good story.

At 11 a go it's a bit pricey, especially for an experience that lasts less than 10 minutes. This though isn't enough to stop me recommending it to a scare attraction fan in London, or even stop me paying another visit to see more of the maze if I'm up in London when this is on.