I have been a Dr Who fan for as long as I remember and it was always a show we would sit down as a family to watch. When my parents split and I moved in with my step brother and step sister we would all have the same bedtime and then Mum would sneak me back downstairs to watch it.
My favourite Doctor was always Tom Baker until the arrival of David Tennant, although I have a soft spot for all of them and love them each in their own way. My boys followed me in my love for the Doctor and we have playsets, sonic screwdrivers and other memorabilia dotted around the house.
The Novotel Hotel we stayed in was a 20 minute walk from the Dr Who Experience, although we didn’t know this at the time and parked on the road near the venue which costs £3 for 2 hours or £5 for 12 hours. The Experience is situated on Cardiff Bay close to the Millenium Centre made famous on the spin-off series Torchwood.
We booked our tickets for 1.30pm and arrived with about 15 minutes to spare. You are put into groups of 30 who then gain entry every 10 minutes. There is a small waiting area with toilets and a cafe to get refreshments as you wait with Dr Who memorabilia dotted around to hold your attention including Gallifrean robes, Clara’s notebook and some rather scary looking villains.
The first part of the tour you are not allowed to film or photograph, but it was out of this world – literally!
You are given necklaces to wear which glow various colours and vibrate as you face danger when the adventure begins. You start in the Gallifrey Museum and after an alien attack, journey to the heart of the TARDIS, where you will to grapple with a threat which could destroy the universe and meet the Daleks and Weeping Angels. Hubby, the teen and I loved this bit but Isaac and Eliza were very nervous, well until they got to fly the Tardis that is!
Thankfully we were returned to Earth in one piece and excited to explore the exhibition hall…………. WHOVIAN HEAVEN!!!
With original sets and models it transports you back to the very beginning of Dr Who. You get to see how the Tardis has morphed and changed as the series progressed both inside and out, plus meet K9 and the Doctor’s old car.
Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite part was then getting to go inside the 10th Doctor’s burned out Tardis from his regeneration – I stood where David Tennant had stood (imagine a very excited child at this point).
It was then time to head upstairs to the main exhibition hall which was packed full of the good, the bad and the ugly as well as some small set mock ups from the series.
The Dr Who Experience isn’t on the same scale as the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, but it is still jam packed with things to see. Each display had a plaque which explains which episode you saw the costume in as well as some fun facts.
There are very strict rules that you are not allowed to touch anything and Isaac got reprimanded for innocently touching a dalek, but there is a half dalek they can go inside and work the controls.
As well as the aliens, the display also contains outfits worn by both the Doctor and his assistants on the show, how many do you recognise?
Of course there are all the Doctors suits too………
………and the rest!
Of course the Doctor would be nothing without his sonic screwdriver and these were on display too.
My one grumble with the whole display is that it was so hot. There were fans dotted around but they didn’t really help, but it was a hot sunny day outside and there was free water dispensers on offer if it got too much.
There were also some notable absences. We would have liked to see the Empty Child (“Are you my Mummy”), the Judoon and the Slitheen but I imagine there is simply no room for them and learning how the special effects are created and even how to walk like a Doctor Who monster more than made up for it.
The interactive experience takes around 25 minutes and you are allowed to spend as much time as you like in the exhibition, but I would allow two hours for the whole visit. You then exit through the shop that is packed full of lots of Dr Who memorabilia old and new.
A family ticket, two adults and two children costs £41 online (or £49 on the door). You can also purchase a merchandise pack with your tickets which takes the price to £70 (or £82 on the door).
I would love to tie in the visit with the bus tour of all the filming sites, but that is something to do without the kids as they wouldn’t be interested, although Isaac has started watching one of my box sets since getting home so I am sure we will have another Whovian in the house very soon.