I visited the Doctor Who Experience this week and never has a word been more appropriate. It was definitely an experience and it is one that I will never forget. It is set to close pretty soon so if you haven’t been then I urge you to take the time (and money) to got down there because it is one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was the main reason why I decided to go to Cardiff. I had decided not to find out too much before I went there by avoiding anything on YouTube or social media. That was a wise choice because it meant everything I saw was a massive surprise although I have since learnt on YouTube that it has change quite a bit.
When I started my trip to the DWE, it was from the Quay and the first thing that struck me is how it stands out quite a bit on the landscape. I had been in Cardiff a couple of days before I visited the DWE and everytime I saw it on the landscape I wandered just what was contained in that place. There was a small amount of worry that my expectations would be too great.
It’s quite a walk to the DWE but it just helped build up the excitement. I wondered how many people would be there and if anyone would be dressed up. The answer to the first part is about 20 people and there was one person dressed as Osgood. What I liked was there was a wide selection of ages. There were people in their early 20’s and a couple of people in late 40’s/early 50’s. I am in my early 30’s and was delighted to see a wide selection.
I arrived at the DWE about half an hour early and so had to wait in the reception area but I could have spent longer than half an hour there. There was a pinball machine which I had played when I was on holiday near Borth back in 2009. I don’t know if it was the same pinball machine but its a nice bit of nostalgia and worth playing if you get the chance.
There isn’t just the pinball machine to enjoy but there are several hand prints of Doctor Who stars. There are prints of past Doctors and Companions but what I found quite interesting is that Steven Moffat’s hands are there and the date of his time on the show has it listed as 2010-2017 yet Peter Capaldi’s is listed as 2013-Present.
Before you get to see the exhibits there is a little show that you have to watch. I say that like it was a bad thing but it wasn’t, it was quite good although the actor’s mic kept cutting out a bit so that was an issue but it was quite fun. You walk into a room where you look at a video and its narrated by Lalla Ward and it shows lots of clips of various episodes from both the classic and new eras. In the room there was the box used as the bomb in Day of the Doctor and also the book on the Time War seen in one of Matt Smith’s stories.
As the tour continues you go from room to room and occasionally Peter Capaldi appears and interacts with the actor leading us and we have to collect some crystals. We go into one room which acts as Skaro and there are several Daleks around and one of them has a crystal on them. The actor gets one of us to collect it and then moments later gets a few of us to jump on a pressure pad to open a door. I did the latter.
The next room saw us wander through Weeping Angels. As you would expect one of the Angels has a crystal which someone gets. We then find ourselves in the Junkyard from An Unearthly Child an walking through the gates with the massive I.M.Foreman written on it was one of the many times I said ‘unbelievable’. We had to wear 3D glasses which bearing in mind I already wear glasses was a bit of a pain but it was worth it because we got to see the conclusion of the show and someone grabbed the third crystal. The whole thing was quite fun although I was slightly annoyed that we weren’t allowed to take any pictures. I think it would have added to the experience. That was the only thing that could have changed.
Now that was out of the way we got to experience everything that Doctor Who had to offer. The first thing that you see when you start is this….
I just stood and looked at it for a few moments and its impressive. That wouldn’t be the only time that I stood and looked impressed. Not too far there is a set display from Dalek Invasion of Earth.
I took something like 350 pictures of pretty much every display that they had. Well they did say before the tour started that once we made it out of the show that we could take as many photos as we liked! Some of them are a little blurred and there were a couple that were unusable.
I spent close to 2 hours there in total and as I walked outside and away from the building I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I felt really happy because it was worth the money and worth coming to Cardiff for. It made me want to watch Doctor Who episodes as soon as possible (difficult being in a Travelodge). On the other hand there was sadness because it is the only time I will ever get to go there. Hopefully the experience will move somewhere else but at the time of writing, there is no news.
Due to the fact that it is closing soon, I decided to splash the cash and get the upgraded ticket which would give me a goody bag. The bag itself was good but what was in it was worth it. There was a Guide book which was in the reception but costs about £7. Then there is a TARDIS key in a lovely little box, a certificate saying that I was a companion and then there was a ticket for the experience which is good because I just had the printed computer ticket that I ordered online. There was also a T-Shirt which is still in the plastic wrapping.
So the main reason for me going to Cardiff was the best thing about the trip. Even though I was only in Cardiff for two and a half days, I thought it was a lovely place to visit. Maybe in the summer time it is a busier place but even in the cold windy March it has enough to entertain people.