Come To London, Get Chased By Lunatics – Welcome To Zed Events ‘Wasteland Experience’ Review
It’s not every day you get an email which invites you to take part in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, but on the day you do get one, I’d advise you to say yes. This happened to me a few weeks ago when Zed Events invited me to visit their latest creation, ‘The Wasteland Experience‘.
Following on from the success of the world famous ‘Zombie Shopping Mall Experience’ which ran for 6 years, this is a full-on 2+ hour movie-like interactive show where you play the part of a survivor in a post-nuclear apocalypse world. With other survivors, you battle for your life across a 250,000 sq ft abandoned shopping mall full of combat and horror.
Arriving at the Reading-based venue, we’re ushered into a darkened corridor and led into a briefing room. Here we are given a quick health and safety chat and then armed with some extremely sophisticated looking military grade rifles. They are the iCombat tactical training system, which apparently are the same models used in training exercises but armies around the globe, although they don’t actually fire anything but compressed air. You also have a headband, which flashes red if you’ve been hit. It’s kind of like an extremely sophisticated laser-tag system. You do get the feeling you are actually carrying a real weapon though, and firing it does give a genuine kick back. The gun also has a torch attached to it, which you really REALLY need where you’re going…
With everyone kitted up, we move onto a mission briefing and some background. After the zombie apocalypse, the cities of the UK were obliterated by nuclear explosions, and the world as we know it ended. It’s now 6 years later, and the few survivors left have either banded together to form tribes in order to survive or have gone insane. Our mission? A nearby trading outpost has gone dark. We have been sent in to discover why our group has lost communication with the location, which was once a bustling hub of local commerce…
Our group of around 14 people is split into two. The group I was in was ushered into another room. The lights go dark. It falls silent… Then another door flies open, all hell breaks loose, and we are greeted by someone screaming our next instruction… RUN!
What follows feels very much like you’ve been dropped into a post-apocalyptic movie or video game. We meet our guide who is a terrified young girl who has returned to her outpost home, only to find everyone is dead. As we work through the maze of dimly lit (and often pitch black) abandoned shops looking for survivors, the story of what has happened to these poor unfortunate people gradually unfolds.
The actors in this event truly make it a terrifying experience. Where as previously they had been playing mindless zombies, hurling themselves at you meatbags, these are humans. Lunatics, yes, but breathing, talking humans. This leads to you hearing some really disturbing conversations as to what they are planning to do to their victims. Speaking to our “tour guide” after the event had finished, she commented that even she was shocked by some of the twisted lines they come out with sometimes.
If the words weren’t bad enough, it’s even more terrifying when they start to head towards you. Whilst some are armed with guns, other have explosives which echo around the mall in spectacular style. Some also have some more close quarters weapons… Not that the actors can actually assault you, but in the moment, you really forget all that when some heavily armoured lunatic is running in your direction!
The props and costumes in this event are created by people who have spent years running scare attractions and working in film/TV production, and you can really tell. They’re amazing well put together and are definitely not people you’d like to meet in a dark alley, let alone be trapped with in a pitch black shopping mall.
‘The Wasteland Experience‘ is truly one of the most disturbing (in a good way) events I’ve ever attended. Unique, terrifying, and amazing fun. If you fancy trading in your usual workout for an afternoon being chased by lunatics in an abandoned shopping mall in Reading, you can get tickets from their website here.