Doctor Who Experience

For the last few years, I’ve walked past the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay on a regular basis and each time I’ve said to myself, “I must go in and see what it’s like”. In July, with the news the attraction is set to close at the beginning of September, I finally made good on my promise.

Now I should probably start by saying I’m not a Doctor Who fan and although I’ve seen the odd episode, I haven’t watched it in years.

So I came to the experience completely cold, aware of the TARDIS and the Daleks, knowing who the current Doctor Who is (goodbye Peter Capaldi, hello Jodie Whittaker)… and that was about the extent of my knowledge.

Having bought our tickets, we were told to line up at 3pm for the start of the interactive experience. This was fine, except the experience didn’t start for another 20 minutes and by that point everyone in the queue was bored and restless.

We were finally ushered inside the Gallifrey Museum where we were met by our tour guide and were given time crystals to wear around our necks.

The experience lasted some 30 minutes and during this time we were led into the TARDIS where we travelled to various locations and eras, including a creepy graveyard and the 1960s, on a mission to help the Doctor.

Photos were strictly forbidden during this part of the tour and if I’m honest, I was a little confused as to what was going on, which is why my write up isn’t as clear as it could be.

The sound quality was poor and I found it hard to hear what was being said. Nevertheless, our tour guide was super enthusiastic and the kids seemed to be having a great time.

Having successfully navigated the experience, we were now free to explore the rest of the visitor attraction, which is essentially a museum dedicated to all things Doctor Who, set over two floors. This was the real gem of the attraction.

The lower floor of the museum featured recreations of sets and props from every era of the show, including the interior and exterior of a number of TARDIS time and space machines, such as the one above from the Christopher Eccleston-Billie Piper era. The detail in the props and sets was amazing, and it was fascinating seeing them up close.

My favourite part were the costumes, which were on display on the upper floor, along with models of the various creatures that have appeared on the show over the years.

I spent ages looking at everything – some of the models were really creepy and the attention to detail was again incredible.

I was also intrigued by how different some of the costumes looked in real life compared to how they appeared on screen.

There was one brown leather jacket worn by Catherine Tate’s character that was really pale in real life but looked much darker in the stills from the show.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about the Doctor Who Experience. I didn’t massively enjoy the 30-minute experience at the start of the tour (not helped by the unnecessary 20-minute wait in the queue before we began).

The production values weren’t good enough, with the sound quality in particular a problem, so I didn’t feel immersed in the world, which hampered my enjoyment of it.

But the museum part was fascinating and I would have liked more of it. I’m sure for fans of the show the whole experience is a delight, but I would have preferred a bigger museum section as you don’t need to be a fan of the show to appreciate the incredible skills and handiwork that went into making the props, costumes and sets. Interesting enough, but could be better.

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