Sunday, 16 October 2011

Review - "The Doctor Who Experience"

There's a certain similarity between the "Doctor Who Experience" and a McDonalds meal: you have one...and you immediately want another. I don't think one viewing of the Experience is enough - even though there's no time limit and you can wander back and forth to your heart's content. We arrived a bit late - and the staff were very laid back - "don't can just join the next group." To begin with, there's the "walkthrough" experience which you enter in a group. Whilst waiting for your turn, there are a number of exhibits that you can photograph and examine - such as the Dalek Ironside. The first thing we did was have our photos taken in the "torture" machine from "The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood" - apparently it's the one that Amy was in.

Regarding the walkthrough, I'm not going to say much. It's terrific - it really is. The specially filmed scenes with Matt Smith are very funny, you get to fly the Tardis, there are Daleks, Weeping Angels and a quite fantastic 3D "experience" at the end. Obviously there are warnings about moving floors, strobe lighting effects and smoke. It takes about 15 minutes and this sequence is worth the entrance fee alone.

Going into the main exhibition, you have the costumes from the ten previous Doctors together with that by now infamous waxwork of Eleven next to the Tardis. Again, the staff are great - one of them lifted Ten's coat to reveal a large rip in the lining. Turns out that when Georgia Moffat had to wear the coat her heel went right through the lining because she's a tad shorter than Mr Tennant. Also, the inside pocket of Eleven's jacket is signed "Matt Smith 2009" because it was his first jacket and he decided to sign it when he received it. In this first area there are also photo opportunities. They have green screens so you can have your photo taken against a variety of backgrounds including the console room. You can also sit in the Pandorica Chair and have your photo taken. Photos are £12 each - or 2 for £15.

I won't go through it area by area because half the fun of the Experience is simply wandering around and discovering things. For instance, when you leave the first area with the costumes then please look up. As you can see, there's a group of the Silence hanging from the ceiling - and they are very easy to miss! Other areas include a design studio where you can have a go at designing a monster, "Walk like a Monster" where you literally try walking like a variety of monsters such as Cybermen and Scarecrows and a screening room that shows episodes of "Doctor Who Confidential".

We were there for over 2 hours - which, when you consider the ticket prices is great value for money. Obviously there's a shop at the end of the Exhibition - and the prices aren't bad at all. All in all, this is something you really shouldn't miss. What I really loved is that Classic Who hasn't been ignored. In fact, there are a wealth of exhibits "celebrating" the early show - from Zygons to Ice Warriors - together with, obviously, a large number of exhibits from New Who. They seem to have achieved a perfect balance really - and the signs at each exhibit give you just enough information.

I would definitely give the "Doctor Who Experience" a 10 out of 10. I really don't see how they could better it. Everything from the walkthrough, the design, the layout etc is first class. I will give a bit of a shout-out to the staff though. They are obviously enthusiasts and are very willing to talk to you about any and all exhibits. Just ask. Really - just ask them. In fact, we did hear an interesting "rumour" about the 50th Anniversary of the show from one of the staff there! If you want to see more photos from the "Doctor Who Experience" then I have a photoset on flickr that you can look at - and download if you want.

The "Doctor Who Experience" is open until February 2012 at Olympia Two in London and for information about opening times, booking slots and ticket prices then please visit The Doctor Who Experience.