Magical Mirror Maze
Have you been brave enough to venture into our magical Mirror Maze? Or have you visited a mirror maze somewhere else? Today we’re looking at the wonder behind these mind-bending puzzles.
How do Mirror Mazes work?
The mirror maze itself is a pattern, combining repetition, symmetry and tessellation using repeated equilateral triangles. These triangles fit together without any gaps or overlaps, creating a tessellation. Mirrored surfaces all around reflect the pattern so that it repeats and appears infinite.
Mirror Mazes go by many names. They can also be known as a hall of mirrors, a mirror house, or a maze of mirrors. It is a maze that has mirrors for walls, which adds to the difficulty of a regular maze.
There are two main types of mirror maze:
Fun House of Mirrors
A fun house of mirrors uses mirrors and glass. The glass will create a barrier, showing you an area of the maze that you can potentially reach. These are the types of mazes that you will often find in travelling funfairs.
Infinity Mirror Maze
This is the kind of mirror maze we have at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. This kind of maze gives the illusion of infinite hallways in multiple directions. In some cases, there could be infinite reflections. This is accomplished by the angles of the mirrors in relation to each other.
The First Mirror Mazes
The first mirror maze was believed to be made by Peter Stuyvesant. His inspiration came from a visit to the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, Yvelines, France. The Palace had a Hall of Mirrors that was built in 1689.
Upon returning to New Amsterdam (now known as New York, USA), he constructed a mirror maze and charged one Dutch Gulden to enter.
The first patent for a mirror maze was granted to Gustav Castan of Berlin, Germany. He opened his first maze in 1873.
Most mirror mazes were part of traveling funfairs. In fact, in the 1800s, there were only two permanent Mirror Mazes in the entire world. One was located in Switzerland and the other in the Czech Republic.
By 1900s, there were more mirror mazes in the United States than any other country in the world.
The Mirror Maze Today
Today, modern effects such as choreographed coloured LED lights, black lights and music systems have been incorporated into some of these classic attractions.
Mirror Mazes have featured in books, movies and television for a number of years. You can see a mirror maze in James Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Twilight Zone and Stranger Things.
The Mirror Maze at Camera Obscura was built in 2009 and has been one of the attractions most popular exhibits. It is 25 meters long (without getting lost!), has 38 mirrors and contains 6,500 individually programmable LEDs. It was recently refurbished in 2019, watch our video of the refurbishment here.
If you love mirror mazes, make sure to visit some of our favourites from around the world.
- Mirror Maze (Zrcadlové bludiště Petřín) in Prague. From the outside the building resembles a small castle, but inside is a labyrinth of mirrors, including mirrors which will distort your appearance!
- Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze in San Francisco is fun for all ages and uses black lights to set to maze a glow, making you completely lose your way.
- Also in San Francisco is Ripley’s Marvellous Mirror Maze, with infinity mirrors, LED lights and a revolving mirror door in the middle!