Posted on Apr 21, 2019
They say good news travels far and news about one of the newer and more exciting visitor attractions in Brussels has stretched a long way – as far as Canada and Thailand.
The indoor adventure park “Koezio at the Docks Bruxel shopping and leisure complex" now counts about 150,000 visitors per year since it opened.
Some participants, acting on recommendations by hotels, Trip Advisor and Visit Brussels (and keen to get the experience for themselves) have even come from as far away as Canada and Thailand.
The centre has proved a big hit since it became the first Koezio to open outside its heartland in France.
Headquartered in Lille, in northern France, the Brussels centre was the fourth to open (there are also two in Paris) and it now attracts participants –known as “agents” – from all over Belgium.
First, an explanation for first time visitors. Koezio (it is pronounced as Ko-wa-ze-o) is a place quite unlike any other you have probably visited. It offers “training as a special agent” in a converted 3,200 square metre space.
For two hours, your endurance, intelligence, courage and team spirit are challenged to complete the “journey” through what are called four districts: a mysterious labyrinth, a machine room with giant modules, an escape room and finally a dizzying trail at 12 meters height.
It’s the type of test that James Bond author Ian Fleming himself might have appreciated.
No need to be fearful though: what matters here is ‘being together’ and increasing cohesion – the invented word Koezio is derived from cohesion - within a group.Koezio is accessible for both young and old and from 2 players upwards.For safety reasons you must be 1 metre 40cm in height and anyone under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Worth pointing out that you do not have to be super fit or an athlete.
The fun starts on arrival with the “secret agent” subterfuge. This is when you are given your very own “secret code” allowing access to the park.On arrival, you enter your “secret code” details on a touch-screen monitor before changing into freshly laundered overalls which is when you are let loose on the course for the next couple of hours.
Seven teams of up to 5 players are allowed entry every 15 minutes, with the idea being that the park does not get overcrowded.
The idea is to clock up as many points as you can. So called “elite agents” can score up to 600,000 points but the average per visit is about 330,000.
Unlike other escape games in Brussels and elsewhere, the idea here is all about working as a team, not against each other. The emphasis for the “secret agents” is on team work and cooperation. At the end, each participant/team is give a detailed print out of their score and performance.
For a small supplement, you can also take a special camera into the park to film the whole adventure (the images can later be downloaded on to a USB stick). Koezio is great for a family visit but is also ideal location for team building exercises.
Kjell Materman, its communication manager, says the Brussels site has become particular popular for companies whose members can meet up in a private room for a “discover my team” chat before the adventure starts. The centre, built on what used to be a fabrics factory dating to the mid-1800s, also has meeting rooms, a dining room and a lounge for an aperitif or meal or drink after your “mission.”
Kjell, who used to work at The Parlamentarium in Brussels, says, “We are also seeing more and more tourists who may have been sent on the recommendation of others.”
There are special discounts if you book online and reductions for schools and youth clubs. Try also to have a go on the virtual reality game at the entrance.
The Brussels centre is not as large as in Lille (which has two “missions”) but, because of clever designing, has a similar layout.
The first Koezio opened in Lille in 2006 and so successful has the concept proved that a fifth one will open in Lyon this summer with plans for others in London, the Netherlands and Spain.
This go ahead company has invested a lot in spreading the word about Koezio and, as the visitor figures, this policy is paying off.Beware that weekends are particularly popular so best to book then.
Transport links are great as the site is situated on two tramlines which whisk you into central Brussels in just 10 minutes. There is a huge car park nearby and, from the summer,there are also river tours on the nearby Brussels Canal.
Another great reason to pay a visit right now is that the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken are currently open to the public until 10 May.
Whatever time of year you come here, though, you are sure of great fun.
Eat your heart out James Bond!
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