I went to my first ever Secret Cinema event last year, Star Wars the Empire strikes back – and it was by far, the best thing I had done since moving to London. I wasn’t really a Star Wars fan, but the production was just so massive, I felt I was really there. And yeah, it was expensive, but you could tell where the money went, so I didn’t mind.
I’m a big horror fan, so when I found out that the next Secret Cinema was going to be based on Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later – to say I was excited was an understatement. So as soon as I got tickets, I went into full planning mode. The experience really isn’t cheap – so I’ll give you the low-down on what you really need.
***FYI – You’re not allowed to take photos inside (they’ll literally kick you out if they catch you, so only have photos of us outside.***
The biggest expense is the ticket price. A standard adult ticket (18+) is £67.08 and a VIP adult ticket which includes refreshments, as well as secret performance elements (no clue what’s involved with that!). There’s also a transaction fee of £2.50. Ouch!
I think (and I know I’m going to get stick saying this as a personal finance writer) that if you’re into this kind of thing (films, getting dressed up, role play situations), Secret Cinema is worth the money. If you’re not happy to be shouted at, dance, or run around in the dark – don’t spend the money. Yes, it’s very expensive, but so is the theatre, ballet or a ticket to see Madonna – welcome to London! The experience is FAR more than just watching a film, and lasts five hours in which you’re constantly entertained. It is a LOT of fun.
HOWEVER… I do have a trick up my sleeve (you know me, always do!). If you’re happy to go on a Wednesday evening, or Saturday/Sunday day time (12pm), you can go for £41.60 with a concession ticket (I really don’t think you’d lose anything by going in the daytime). Concession tickets are exclusively reserved for NHS staff, Armed forces, Teachers and Student Card holders. Not a student? Don’t worry – I know how you can get one. It’s easy!
At the beginning of 28 Days Later, Jimmy wakes up in a hospital bed in London, with no-one around (there are a few zombies about though!). So you’ll have to recreate that, with scrubs. You can buy the official merchandise from Secret Cinema (I did), which will save a load of hassle, which is £20 (£5 delivery though). For your money, you get a pair of scrubs (they come up quite big), a blood sample and some saline, a name tag, face mask, bandage, tattoo and some paperwork.
From my experience, you didn’t need half of that stuff so don’t be afraid to buy from Amazon or eBay. Lots of people were in different coloured scrubs, bought from elsewhere.
Here’s what you actually need so you fully fit in:
- Trainers (because my god, you will bloody run.)
- Face mask (they really make a big deal of you needing to cover your face initially).
That’s it. I didn’t use anything else at any point. I was asked about my blood sample at one point, but didn’t have to do anything with it.
Now of course, it’s fun to have tattoos, and medical bits and bobs with you – it’s all part of the experience but you don’t have to spend the money on them.
Some things to note:
MAKE SURE YOU WEAR SCRUBS. You won’t be let in without them, and will have to buy awful jumpsuits for £20 at the gate.
I know there was a lot of confusion on social media about the dark clothes you need to wear. You don’t actually have to wear dark clothes, but they will keep you warm (because you can’t really take a coat). We all wore a combo of running leggings and thermal long sleeved black t-shirts. The site does mention that you shouldn’t wear anything too fancy, as you may get blood on it – from my experience, you’ll only get blood on you if you want to, so don’t worry about getting covered in mess.
Food and drink
Food and drink was very much part of the experience at the Star Wars Secret Cinema event, but feel like it is less so here. There weren’t nearly the amount of places to eat and drink – but don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of places to spend your money. It’s expensive, but the quality is decent.
From what I saw, there was an option of burger and chips, lamb casserole and chilli con carne – everything seemed to be around £7.50 – £10.
Cocktails came in little bottles (packaged as medicine) but are actually made by fancy Bourne and Hollingsworth, and cost £6 each. There were other drinks available at different bars.
In the cinema room itself, there were people walking around with trolleys with sweets and crisps in there. They cost £1 each, and included Curly Wurly (bloody £1 for a Curly Wurly!?), Walkers crisps, and Wine gums. Nothing exciting. You can pay for all this on card, with no minimum spend.
So, if you’re on a budget, eat before-hand, because you’re not really missing out.
The experience – don’t worry no spoilers
I won’t go through it all, but will point out some things that stood out for me.
- I completely underestimated how awkward it would be getting to and from the venue in costume. Even popped to the pub. You get a lot of stares!
- I am not fit enough for the apocalypse (or Secret Cinema). I am unfit, but wasn’t worried about the running, until it started. You do have to do a lot of running initially, but there are bits where you can rest and catch your breath. It’s do-able. About the point you think ‘sod this’, you have to do a tiny bit more and it’s done. Unless you’re a bloke. The women and men separate (women get to sit down, men are made to work out). At this point, if you’re a a guy and you REALLY don’t want to do more exercise, maybe just slink off when you get to the point there’s a lot of people or at least stay at the back (you’ll know what I mean).
- Go to the back of the ‘hangout’ room ASAP and get in line (by sitting on the benches) to get face paint done by PAM (professional TV and film make-up artists) free. We stumbled upon it quite quickly, so didn’t have to wait long. You can go, full rage or become a survivor.
- Temperature – I had thermals on the whole time, so was more than happy with the heating, but my mate who had bare arms was freezing during the film.
- The area itself – Canada Water isn’t really good for food and drink beforehand. We’ve only ever spotted one cafe to hang out in which does sell booze, so if you want to do some pre-drinking, don’t hang out there. Although, it does have a Sainsbury’s if you wanted to pick up a sandwich or something before going in.
- Are you going to be too scared? I went with a group of friends, two who are proper chickens – to the degree they won’t even watch horror films. They were totally fine – scared, but they enjoyed it.
If you have any questions, comment below and i’ll get back to you.
Liked this? What about these freebies?
- Get a FREE £20 voucher from Amazon
- FREE B&Q unsold stock
- How to get an NUS student card when you’re NOT a student