Si5 Spy Mission
Review by Claire, Andy, Amelia (10) and Charlie (8) Paye
As we crawled down tunnels, emerging into dark rooms, I reflected that I would have been interested to read a review such as this in advance so I had more idea of what to expect. What I knew about Si5 Spy Mission before visiting was that it was a new venue in Croydon (other venues around the country) which was perfect for a totally different birthday party or a fun activity for all the family to enjoy. What I didn’t know was that I would find myself trying to navigate a corridor of laser beams (Amelia informed me I did touch some but thankfully we weren’t detected), looking at control panels around rooms to find the right sequence of switches to punch in and achieve something, allowing us to progress to the next room (I didn’t always quite get exactly why we needed to do things, but it didn’t stop the fun), and pulling myself along on a missile trolley through a chute. This is not an activity for the claustrophobic, but everyone else should absolutely love it.
The basic idea is that there is a series of missions to achieve in order to stop a missile being launched. It is billed as ‘James Bond meets Crystal Maze’, which is fairly accurate. There are different levels of mission for different age groups. We were accompanied by a guide (Ashimi) who was excellent with Amelia and Charlie and provided just the right level of help when we were struggling, without giving too much away. She explained the purpose of each room. It is a mixture of brain work and action, with each activity being timed. We failed to crack the six 4 digit codes in one room but thankfully Ashimi had an override code which got us through. Sometimes we timed out and had to start again.
Amelia and Charlie really got into it all to the extent that Amelia got cross with Charlie for accidentally touching some of the lasers, but as he was risking ruining our mission by doing so, I couldn’t reprimand her too much. They both thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience. Amelia felt it was ‘awesome’ and she would definitely like to have a birthday party there (here’s hoping they open a venue along the A3 south of London then.) Charlie thought it was ‘really good’.
The building is quite easy to find when you know what you’re looking for. It’s off a bricked circular road next to the Q Car Park (where you can park) and south of the market street. By its nature, it isn’t really ideal for people in wheelchairs, although guests with broken limbs have been helped along. Not somewhere to wear your best party clothes to either. There is an easy exit off the rooms (not obvious to us) for those who find it all too much. Parties of eight or more would be split into smaller groups with the guide rotating who carries out the principal activity. For example, in the first room Amelia was steering us all in our underwater craft in the first activity, Charlie was co-pilot, Andy and I were on the benches trying to find where the fuel leak was on the charts to help start the engines up again.
Si5 Spy Mission is perfect for any active young person who loves problem solving and a rush of adrenalin from working against the clock. It reminds me a little bit of a corporate team building exercise, but without the 3 days of debriefing and analysis and remembering why you didn’t like that particular colleague, afterwards.