Lost in Wonderland

Our partners Fungo Ltd were asked to design, install and run a new easter event for thecentre:mk. This was the first of a new seasonal event that would join the successful Summer Beach and Christmas as part of their regular event calendar. The event was funded by the shopping centre to drive footfall throughout the Easter period and encourage repeat visits during the school holidays.

The Brief

Fungo were asked to provide an attraction that would be unique, compelling and offer a range of activity for a broad spectrum of ages and visitor profiles. The attraction was to fill Middleton Hall, an indoor exhibition space with a clear span of 42m x 60m. The space is bordered by retail units including John Lewis, whose restaurant overlooks the area, so the attraction needed to look good from above as well as on the exhibition floor.

Installation was to be completed within four days and all materials were to be delivered out of hours. The exhibition space has a polished marble tiled floor and no fixings could be made into it. The duration of the event would be four weeks and it was to meet all applicable DDA standards for accessibility and playability. The success of the event was to be judged by the increase in footfall for the period. A small entry fee was to be charged to offset some of the cost.

  1. Theme – ‘Alice Lost in Wonderland’ was provided by the client. Fungo passed the thematic development of the event to its sister company Mazescape Limited, a specialist maze and game design company who’s clients include many successful visitor attractions. The theme was developed as an Alice in Wonderland adventure, incorporating two games based on key scenes from the Lewis Carol book that gave rise to six distinct areas for visitors to navigate through and play.
  2. Down the Rabbit Hole – The entrance was designed as a giant rabbit hole in a grassy mound that incorporated a till and storage of AV equipment. The structure was sectional to allow fast construction on-site and themed with a giant oak tree, White Rabbit character and seasonal flowers.
  3. Doorz Maze – Upon exiting the rabbit hole, visitors found themselves inside a room surrounded by eight colourful doors. Only one of these doors would open and lead them into the next room of eight doors identical to the first. Some rooms included door bells and cryptic signage, with one door being smaller than the others and concealing a clue.
  4. Living Hedge Maze – Visitors exited the Doorz Maze to find themselves inside a real living hedge maze supplied by Rentahedge. The contrast to the experience of the Doorz Maze was marked and although not a large maze, was surprisingly confusing, allowing us to hide a number of clues for the two main games. Oversized props enhanced the theme and eventually a large looking-glass gateway allowed visitors to enter the ‘Timbamaze’. The living hedge planters were quickly and professionally installed, instantly creating a real sense of wonder due to their size and the fact it was a living structure inside a shopping centre.
  5. TimbaMaze – Is a modular freestanding maze structure of timber picket panels and archways. Oversized garden props and climbing roses give a garden like feel to the space. The Timbamaze added a denser network of pathways to the maze puzzle, allowing us to locate a number of quiz clues and games within this part of the structure.
  6. Card Soldiers Maze – Upon leaving the TimbaMaze, visitors found themselves within a courtyard surrounded by large playing card soldiers. The floor was decorated with a large 8m x 8m printed floor maze around a central fountain prop. The floor maze incorporated pressure pads beneath a number of card suit symbols, that illuminated the noses of the standing card soldiers when stood upon, this was very popular with children.
  7. The final area was a combination of play and retail featuring garden games, a mini artificial hedge maze, craft area and chocolate/sweets handcart.

The event was regarded as very successful and surpassed the clients expectations in terms of physical appearance and game play. Projected figures for entry were met by the end of the first week and consequently the gate receipts were significantly higher than anticipated. Total number of visitors exceeded 19,000 and the centre reported an 8% increase in footfall compared to the same period the previous year.