The Doctor Who Experience

20 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

4/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

May, 2015

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Adult family

Reasons for trip

These days, no trip to Cardiff would be complete without a trek to the Dr Who Experience down in Porth Teigr. There’s now parking nearby, in an up-and-coming area with plenty of attractions and facilities, and regular buses from the centre to make access nice and easy.

Just over the road from the BBC studios where the series is filmed, the Experience, like the Doctor himself, has just undergone a regeneration. This new version takes the visitor on virtual tour, led by Peter Capaldi himself (well, on video) through a variety of scenes from over 50 years of the Time Lord’s existence.

The last time I visited was during Matt Smith’s tenure as our hero, and this regeneration is a bit of a departure, with more footage from previous incarnations and new material including a scary Weeping Angels section, guaranteed to thrill and petrify in equal measure.

The first ‘interactive’ section comprises the tour, with the neat addition of VIP passes featuring crystals that light up to warn of impending danger. It’s hosted by a guide who keeps everyone moving: our chap tried hard to include the youngsters in the group, and saw us safely through to the Exhibition Hall. This is perhaps more fun as you can spend as much time here as you like, and take as many photos as humanly possible, with two floors of exhibits from previous series featuring costumes, props and designs.

My personal favourites are the Daleks and they do take centre stage. But there are plenty of other exhibits for everyone to enjoy, including an observation quiz for youngsters, and the attention to detail makes this a real joy for anyone with an interest in tv or film work. Exit is through the giftshop where you can buy postcards, clothing and posters, or even the Dalek teapot without which no fan’s home is complete.

There’s full disabled access to the Experience and the Exhibition, and carers are allowed a free ticket.

At £16 per adult (£11.75 for children, £49 for families) this is good value for fans, and the true aficionado might want the upgrade which includes a merchandise pack – these feature brochures, certificates and t-shirts, with a child upgrade costing £33.25. Be prepared to spend!

Discounted tickets are available online but be warned that booking fees are added, so the savings aren’t as large as you might hope for. It’s a shame that there’s no discount for senior citizens, and students qualify for 20% off, but only during term time.

And check the opening times before you go – generally the Exhibition is open from 10am to 5pm, but last admission is at 3.30pm, the venue is closed on Tuesdays until June 24, when it’s open seven days a week, and there may be special events during school holidays to watch out for.

The venue is equipped with a small cafe and toilet facilities: on my Bank Holiday visit, both areas were adequate but a bit grubby – it was a shame that overflowing waste bins in the toilets, and uncleared tables and unswept floor in the cafe left a rather tacky impression. The actual displays though are well worth a visit, and I’ll be back when the Tardis tours (including a visit to the BBC’s Roath Lock Drama Studios nearby) are restored to the calendar.

Real Whovians might also enjoy an official Walking Tour of the area, taking in nearby locations used in the tv series, or you can work out your own – my party visited Eddie’s Diner (the ‘American’ eaterie that featured in The Impossible Astronaut), paid our respects at Ianto’s Shrine on Mermaid Quay, and visited the front and back doors to Torchwood (ok, not Dr Who but it is related).

I’d recommend a visit, for fans of all ages, and if your party includes any who aren’t keen on the Doctor, there are plenty of other attractions in the area to keep everyone happy.

Jane Leigh

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