It all started innocently enough. I turned up at the appointed spot near the rear of Waterloo Station and enjoyed a very civilized glass of lemonade in the autumn air with some other regular folks, surrounded by wartime bunting and tables laced with historic memorabilia.
No sooner had we exchanged pleasantries with a genial, professorly fellow named Alan when an air raid siren blared and commotion ensued. We were hurriedly marshalled into an air raid shelter by a soldier who happened to be taking a smoke break outside when the mayhem began. From the confines of the air raid shelter we could hear the clamour of the Blitzkrieg and feel the impact of the bombardment.
Our friend the soldier peeked out the door of the shelter only to discover the entrance blocked by debris. We had to decide what to do next. Soon we were crawling through ventilation shafts, emerging to find ourselves in a labyrinthine underground complex. We thought we were in the clear, and on our way to a route to the outside world, when we heard footsteps close by and people started speaking German!
Suddenly we were focused on evading detection by the Nazis. We scampered up a mesh staircase to a platform where we could hide. While we were up there observing Nazi scientists’ diabolical undertakings we made the most shocking discovery. The Nazis were experimenting with reanimating the dead!
What happened next is a bit of a blur and, frankly, defies imagination. Our efforts to evade the Nazis put us in the path of a new, more perilous threat. Zombies! Now we were being chased by not only the Fuhrer’s henchmen, but also the undead. Brief flashes of light penetrated the pitch black as we fled, illuminating the scene just long enough to see that we were surrounded by pens full of caged zombies who were reaching out to grab at us as we passed while trying to outrun their brethren giving chase.
What is all this? Did I finally fulfil my dream of time-travelling with The Doctor? No, this is Zombie Blitz 1940.
Believe it or not, this is not the only zombie experience in town. The folks that brought you Zombie Boot Camp, Zombie Battle London, Zombie Manor House, Zombie Shopping Mall, The Asylum and the Ultimate Zombie Experience, also put together Zombie Blitz 1940. Zombie Blitz 1940 stands out from its combat-oriented counterparts because it is historically themed immersive experience where the participants become part of the storyline. While the other zombie experience days revolve around combat and typically involve participants rampaging through training grounds, shuttered shopping centres and so forth, Zombie Blitz 1940 has an element of mystery to it and enlists players to solve clues. In other words, I chose it because it’s the Scooby Doo of zombie experiences. It also takes place in an actual period Air Raid Shelter, which is pretty darn awesome.
A Nerd’s Tips For Enhancing Your Zombie Experience
Leave your camera athome and just enjoy the experience. There isn’t enough light or quality picture-taking and the pace of the experience doesn’t lend itself to slowing down to take photos. You’ll just make a nuisance of yourself like I did. In true Scooby Doo style I also pulled a Velma and tripped, landing on my camera and breaking it (but I didn’t lose my glasses!) Luckily I was scooped up instantaneously by a kindly soldier and therefore was not trampled in the darkness by the living or the undead.
The information sheet I was sent when I booked suggested that participants not wear expensive clothing, as it might get damaged. I will go further than that and recommend that you do not plan on going anywhere afterward for which you need to look especially smart or presentable. You won’t come out of Zombie Blitz 1940 looking like you barely survived the zombiepocalypse, but you might be a bit scuffed and ruffled. For instance, I wore an everyday sort of dress and found myself needing to replace my tights afterward due to the crawling around we did. There’s also a lot of fake blood and stuff in many of the scenes that could potentially get on your clothes if you bump into something. Comfortable shoes are a must. So yeah, don’t wear a dress to fight zombies and don’t combine it with your invitation to Her Majesty’s garden party, or in my case a reception for the PTBA.
Bring a friend. I was the only singleton in the crowd and, while it was still a great experience, I noticed that going with someone you know, or getting a group of friends together seemed to be the way to go. This is especially true for us ladies. I might be making sexist generalizations here, but my observation is that zombie experiences attract a largely male clientele and if you want female companionship then you may need to arrange it yourself. On the other hand, if you want all those zombie-fighting dudes to yourself, then more power to ya.
Disclosure and acknowledgements: Because I have written with genuine enthusiasm about zombie experiences in the past for other publications, Wish.co.uk kindly offered me the opportunity to try Zombie Blitz 1940 first-hand at no cost.