What? Doctor Who Experience.
Where? Olympia, London.
How much? Adult – £15 off peak prebooked, £18 peak prebooked, £20 on the door. Child £12.50 off peak prebooked, £14 peak prebooked, £15.50 on the door. Family tickets are also available.
When? Until 4th September 2011.
When you’re in London celebrating a 31st birthday as a group of geeks what more appropriate way could there be to spend an afternoon than at the new Doctor Who Experience at Olympia?
From the time we got off the tube at Olympia the anticipation began building steeply, the route to the experience entrance is marked out by posters bearing cybermen. As the event has timed entry slots there was no queuing to get in, we simply went into the building and after taking the lift to the correct floor entered the first room.
The first room acts essentially as a holding room where you wait for the next entry to the walk-through experience. There’s plenty to see and look at, exhibits included Liz 10’s costume, a Silurian display and artefacts from the House of Calvierri. Whilst we were having a look we were aware of the number of children also milling about, and found ourselves wondering whether they would impact on how we were able to enjoy the walk-through – at the Doctor Who Exhibition housed at nearby Earls Court we had all had similarly unfortunate experiences.
Wide eyed wonderment.
The walk-through took about 20 minutes, you begin by watching a wonderfully edited together montage of clips from series 5 (we won’t get into an episode numbering argument here thank you very much) before walking through the crack from Amy’s bedroom into a museum. As you’re looking around the security system is taken over by the Doctor who is stuck in the spare Pandorica and needs help. These clips with Matt Smith guide you through the walk-through, I don’t want to reveal the path it takes, but be assured it will make even the casual fan’s heart sing.
All of our fears about having children with our party were completely unfounded, if anything having young fans getting completely swept up in the experience (one got scared to the point of having to leave the walkthrough) added to the buzz. There was a real sense of camaraderie between our group, everyone had such a great time.
Time to add a little detail.
After leaving the walk-through we found ourselves in a more traditional exhibition that did bear some resemblance to the previous exhibition at Earls Court. There were some exhibits that we had seen before but these were accompanied by many new items. The first section dealt with the Doctor himself, each of his incarnations was represented by his most iconic costume. We also visited a room devoted to his companions, and one dealing with enemies through the ages (in this area there was a lovely mix of classic Who and nu-Who). There were special areas offering screenings, workshops on how to walk like various monsters and a mock up of the art department.
My favourite part of the exhibition was the interior of the TARDIS that had belonged to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. You could get up close and personal with part of the central console, and all the supporting struts were in place. Playing on a screen at the side of the exhibition was the regeneration of the Tenth Doctor into the Eleventh Doctor. We did spent a few minutes watching the Tenth Doctor say goodbye and all felt that tell tale lump returning to our throats.
“You’ve got a little shop. I like a little shop.”
When we’d finally had enough of the exhibition we made our way out into the shop. Whereas the shop for the Earls Court exhibition always felt a little like an after thought this one was filled with things I found myself being tempted by. There was enough space to walk round without the fear you were going to knock something off a shelf or step on a playing child – another improvement from previous exhibitions.
We all had a thoroughly good afternoon and based on all the smiling faces we were seeing so did everyone else who was there. If you’re even vaguely interested in Doctor Who I would recommend it as a worthwhile visit.