Having grown up in England, I’m naturally a very big fan of James Bond.
Alike many others, I consider Casino Royale to be in the top tier of 007’s adventures.
Upon investigating further on Secret Cinema’s own website, they describe the experience as ‘4+ hours of remarkable surprises and pure disbelief. Secret storylines. Iconic locations. Memorable characters. Filmic dreamscapes.’
Having purchased a ticket and been to the event, does it live up to the promises of their description?
Without a doubt.
This Secret Cinema Casino Royale Review will cover all you could need to know about your secret adventure, and what I thought of the experience.
But don’t worry, there will not be any hard spoilers of the event, or many mentions of what happens inside the venue.
Believe me when I say you will want to experience it first-hand.
Secret Cinema Casino Royale Review – Travel, Venue & Logistics
The event takes place in a large warehouse in Dagenham, which is located in the very East of London.
The venue is a 5-minute walk from its ‘Dagenham East’ London Underground station, which is on the green District Line.
A notoriously rough area (although from what I saw, it wasn’t too shabby), you feel safe at all times.
This is thanks to the Secret Cinema staff members who are laced along the route from the underground station to the venue, and the masses of crowds that you arrive with.
It does not matter what time you turn up, as long as it is before the last admission into the venue for that specified date.
However, I would recommend to get there as early as you can, as it means you can have more time in the experience.
Entering the Venue
As you get to the venue, you are asked to present your tickets which are scanned.
ID checks are performed too, so if you look on the young side (and you should do if you are washing your face at the correct frequency!), I would recommend to bring photo ID (as this event is 18+).
Bag checks are also conducted at the entrance.
As you get past the checkpoint, you can’t help but notice that you’re in Dagenham – it’s very blatant.
However, the event organisers have done their best to get the outside area to feel as ‘in character’ as possible, placing lovely – but quite scary – actors with red cloth bollards to aid crowd control and prevent too many people entering at once.
When you get past these bollards, you rendezvous with your section liaison who is holding coloured flowers.
They tell you your mission (which I can only assume is slightly different depending on what section you are in), and send you on your way to the entrance of the warehouse.
After getting to the front of the line to enter, you are asked to put your phone onto silent.
They then they put your phone into this chunky wallet.
This is to prevent people from filming the event once inside, as the lock requires a special machine to open.
Myself and my friend decided to keep these wallets on us during the whole event. They are quite big, so bring a jacket with moderately sized pockets.
If this is a problem for you, I’m sure you could just put your phone in your bag and put your bag in the bagging area.
After this, you enter Casino Royale.
Being my typical self, I really needed the bathroom when I arrived.
In the entrance area, you can find a gift shop and a DIY chique portaloo with three cubicles per sex.
There are also toilets inside the venue.
Furthermore, you can find a bagging area near the entrance of the warehouse, where you can put your bags.
Finally, there is a designated outdoor smoking zone, where I made the error of trying to get some fresh air.
On the date we went, the earliest admission time was 6PM, and the latest was 7.
Regardless of what time you select to turn up online, you are let through.
However, I would recommend that you get there as early as possible, as you are given more time in stage 1 of the event.
It ended at about quarter to 11.
Secret Cinema James Bond Review -Preparation
To prepare, you are asked to learn your undercover name and have a reason to be at Casino Royale.
I would highly recommend for you to remember these, as you are asked them both quite frequently.
It could lead to some quite awkward exchanges if you don’t.
If you forget them, you can always change your name and job every 2 seconds like I did.
The dress code was ‘black and white with your section colour’, and they say you are expected to abide by it.
I was very impressed by the effort that everyone put in, as It really aided in immersion.
However, I did see people wearing things other than the dress code, so I can assume you won’t be refused entry (but I do encourage you to look your best).
Furthermore, your team colour is not very important.
Worried that myself and my friend would be split up for the evening, I turned up in his colour.
However, there was nothing stopping you from walking up to an agent with a different colour flower and receiving that mission.
On top of this, it is likely that you will jump onto a different mission as opportunities present themselves, or if you aren’t having luck with the one you were originally given.
Also, you don’t have to dress like your character.
So, if you chose to be the fashion guy, that means you don’t have to go out and buy a kilt.
Secret Cinema Casino Royale Review – Experience
How it Works
The event wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.
I had envisaged being on a ‘rail’ – we would walk from room to room, while actors would play out a story in front of us.
In reality, you are given a huge indoor sandbox to play with.
Over there is Madagascar, over there is Q Branch…
You get the picture.
What you do with this is up to you, as you are not forced to participate in anything or complete the mission you were given.
So, I’ll be frank with you – if you’re socially inept, this is not the event for you.
In order to get the most out of Secret Cinema’s Casino Royale, you have to be comfortable approaching, and being approached by, actors and other event goers.
Even though I’m sure you could have a passive experience, that is, spend the evening walking around all of the sets aimlessly, getting something to eat and just observing, the magic comes with participation.
Following the plot, and trying to advance it by being proactive was a lot of fun.
This is not to mention the times when you witness a one-per-night event occurring.
The actors were all really good and were properly into their roles.
Combine this with screen accurate costume design and you’re onto a winner.
After about 2 hours, the interactive stage of the event ends, and you take your seat in a large auditorium.
You then proceed to watch the whole 2-and-a-half-hour Casino Royale.
Initially slightly disappointed, I soon realised that watching one of your favourite films with fans is an entirely different experience.
Jokes are funnier, and audience reactions work to enhance something you know and love.
There are however a couple of qualms I have.
1. To start, in the first stage, it is not always clear what the hell is going on or what you should be doing.
When myself and my friend first entered the warehouse, even though we had our mission, we had no idea where to even start.
This resulted in us aimlessly walking around for a while, until we by chance got involved in some action.
2. That leads me onto my second problem with this type of event.
It is very dependent on being in the right place at the right time.
Even though it does take place in a small enclosed environment, I would think it entirely possible to go through the evening and see very little action.
This is especially true considering that a lot of the points of interest were moving about, so when you are informed of a location, it might not be there by the time you make your way over.
3. Thirdly, I feel it was too dependent on being proactive.
As I have previously mentioned, getting stuck into tasks isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. This is especially true as moving about the place is quite physically draining after a while.
This wasn’t aided by the lack of ventilation in the warehouse either.
4. On top of the smoke machines and 100s of people stuffed into small environments, it felt like there was very little to no ventilation.
The only escape I could find from this to get some ‘fresh’ air was the smoking area.
5. Finally, taking into account the exhausting nature of the first half of the event and the lack of ventilation, getting through the whole 2-and-a-half-hour film was a bit of a task, especially when suited in formalwear.
Both myself and my friend paid £50 for our ‘standard’ tickets.
The experience was well worth this price.
However, I cannot comment if this would be the case for the VIP tickets which are in some cases up to 3.5 times (£175) as expensive.
On top of this, there are many bars and a couple of food vendors placed around the Casino Royale world.
But if you feel thirsty, you’re looking at £4.50 for a single can of Heineken – not cheap.
Oh, and, make sure you bring along a credit card for those vendors.
In Conclusion – Secret Cinema Casino Royale Review
I would give the experience I had a solid 4.5/5 stars.
But this rating is based on entirely my experience, and is only hindered by the lack of ventilation and cyclical mission ambiguity in the first half of the event.
If something was done to remedy these problems, it would be a full house for the folks at Secret Cinema.
On a side note, this is not the usual type of content this blog produces.
Our objective here at Hero and Villain Style is to help men look and feel incredible by using style, fragrance and self improvement inspired from film, TV and games.
I hope this article has been of some use, and if you are going to the event, I hope you enjoy it!