Thorpe Park has a new attraction based on the Netflix series Black Mirror – and it’s so horribly creepy and panic-inducing that I had to escape through the fire exit.
Black Mirror: Labyrinth is an entirely new adventure that puts the park’s visitors at the centre of the action – but there are enough nasty surprises to give grandma a heart attack.
I’m a huge fan of Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi anthology series, which explores a twisted alternate reality in the near-future where technology and ‘humanity’s darkest instincts collide’.
But the fun of watching an episode of Black Mirror is that all the nasty stuff is happening to someone else – you’re just a witness to it.
With Labyrinth, you become the unfortunate victim to the antagonist – in this case, an evil artificial intelligence (AI) system that harvests all your personal data.
Scroll down for video
‘We value your privacy’: The attraction asks you for your name and a photo before you can enter
As you queue up for the attraction, a disembodied voice tells you to prepare for your ‘mind ingestion procedure’ and then warns that you’re about to lose your mind in the Labyrinth.
At the entrance, you then have your picture and name taken – information that helps to personalise the experience – before stepping inside.
Initially, it starts off pretty innocuous, but then you remember that this is Black Mirror, so there are going to be some twists and turns.
From the basic info you submitted at the beginning, the AI system says it’s able to find all your online profiles and harvest your personal data.
Spoiler alert: You’re then told that you’re about to have your identity drained as part of an evil plan to make the AI stronger, turning you into a ‘redundant organism’.
The evil AI tries to steal ‘your memories and your mind’ to become more the most powerful AI system ‘the world has ever seen’.
Visitors have to navigate a series of hallways and sliding doors that close after a certain time limit as you escape the AI’s clutches
After you’ve received that unfortunate piece of news, you have to flee through a series of time-controlled doors and narrow hallways, in an attempt to escape the AI’s clutches.
You have both feet on the ground for the entire time – but your perception of direction and space and hugely distorted.
It’s like a very modern hall of mirrors, complete with dead ends, smoke, strobe lighting and stressful sound effects.
Most of the time I was in the Labyrinth was spent wandering around in circles. At one point I found myself walking into one wall, then stumbling into the opposite wall and then retreating back into the first wall, like some animal in a cage.
It didn’t take long before I realised, with terrifying clarity: ‘I don’t know how to get out of here. Therefore, I could be here forever.’
I’m a guy who likes control. I like to know where I am and where I’m going. In Labyrinth, I knew neither of those things.
The evil AI system (pictured) tries to steal your memories and your mind to become more powerful
‘Redundant organism blocked’: Thorpe Park says Labyrinth is not suitable for anyone who has difficulty with reality perception or is susceptible to severe anxiety
At least during an unsettling rollercoaster you know you’re hurtling at top speed towards the end. But you don’t get that with Labyrinth – you have no idea where the exit is – so I started to get stressed out.
I thought about shouting ‘I’m a journalist get me out of here’ but knew it wouldn’t have done any good. So I made the snap decision to push open the door of the fire exit and make my escape.
Stepping into the daylight, I tried to find my way back into the rest of the park. But behind me I heard the call of a park employee in hot pursuit.
Luckily, she wasn’t after my mind, nor my memories, and she sympathetically guided me back to the end of the Labyrinth so I could experience the attraction’s climax.
‘Sorry I had to get out of there,’ I said. ‘I thought I was going to have a panic attack.’
Five minutes later, I left with a few words for the family at the front of the queue: ‘Don’t do it!’
Spoiler alert: The AI’s evil plan is to steal all the personal information from visitors to the attraction
While an amazing experience, Black Mirror: Labyrinth was totally unsettling and dignity-sapping.
It’s certainly not for anyone who has had a traumatic incident, suffers from claustrophobia or is prone to panic attacks or anxiety in unusual situations.
But I would never have considered myself to check any of those boxes and I still couldn’t handle it – so seriously, approach with caution!
Thanks for having me Thorpe Park. But it’s Mr Monkey’s Banana Boat ride for me next time.
Thorpe Park says: ‘Black Mirror Labyrinth is not suitable for guests under the age of 13, guests who have photosensitive epilepsy or a visual impairment, guests who have difficulty with reality perception or guests who are susceptible to: dizziness, severe anxiety, claustrophobia, asthma, panic attacks and fear of dark or confined spaces.’