With the Doctor Who Experience due to close in the next few weeks, I thought I would share with you, my time there. Imagine the scene, early morning in Cardiff Bay, one handsome young man walking a bit too fast towards a big blue structure in the distance. It is a very large building; long and grey, with blue ribs going along the side. I’m ecstatic as I’ve waited a long time for this day and I can barely contain himself. There is a large sign covering the top half of the building with three words written on it: ‘DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE’.
“Nik slow down. We can’t enter for another half an hour, there’s no need to rush”.
That voice of reason would be the voice of my girlfriend, who I’ve dragged all the way to Cardiff to visit Who Central. She isn’t the biggest fan of Doctor Who, but she understands this is an important day for me, important for two reasons: 1) I’m finally going to the Doctor Who Experience and 2) I’m going to be on the TARDIS. Yes that’s right, I was going to visit the actual TARDIS set. I will write about that visit in a different article coming soon, or available now depending on when you read this.
It was announced that the BBC were doing TARDIS tours, which they do every now and then. Previously I had never been able to afford this but I didn’t want to miss out on possibly my last chance to go on the TARDIS, as the Doctor Who Experience had announced earlier in the year, that it would be closing. I decided to go all out for my time at the Doctor Who Experience and bought myself a merchandise pack, which along with the TARDIS tour ticket came to the overall price of £46.18. A Standard ticket for both the experience and the tour can be bought for £25.29.
When you enter the Doctor Who Experience, you are greeted to a rather odd looking mask of Matt Smith and a few other props and costumes, giving you the smallest hint as to what to expect. If you need a drink or something to eat then there is a cafe, but if I had one complaint, it’s that they don’t serve fish fingers and custard. Missing out on a trick there.
SPOILER WARNING. If you don’t want to know what happens in the interactive section then keep scrolling until you see the next TARDIS.
After queuing for a while, surrounded by Gallifreyan artefacts, you are invited along to the tour by the curator to watch a brief video about the Doctor and his adventures. During this video you see that the TARDIS is attacked by a creature call the Crinis. A vertical crack in time appears and as you walk through to find the glowing orbs from ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’, The Doctor appears on the screen seeming quite perplexed at who we all are and why we are there. This is an early Twelth Doctor as he is quite grumpy and has a tendency to insult the visitors and the Curator. I do need to point out that the woman playing the Curator was fantastic all through the interactive section, as she stays completely in character with a lot of charisma and she knew exactly when to say her lines to the Doctor. The Doctor informs us that we need to find three time crystals and off we go on our adventure through time and space. I should probably have mentioned earlier that we were all given glowing crystal lanyards that react through different points of the story and help immerse the audience rather well.
We first step onto the Eleventh Doctor’s old TARDIS which everyone helps to fly. It is quite fun as the Doctor needs your help to fly the TARDIS which is done by turning some handles whilst the room shakes. We then land on Skaro and after the curator chooses someone from the audience to find the first time crystal, the Daleks come to life; threatening to exterminate everyone in the room. With haste the curator gets everyone out in time into the next section. Now this next section was definitely my favourite, as you walk through a dark graveyard, you notice what’s around you. With a flash of light and a great use of sound effects, you have to be careful not to blink, as you find yourself surrounded by Weeping Angels. My girlfriend was quite scared as we first entered the grave yard, which I found quite humorous. Well at least I did until the first jump scare. After collecting the second crystal, it’s time to move on to the next section. You arrive at 76 Totters Lane and after collecting the final time crystal, you help the Doctor defeat the Crinis, through a nice little 3D section as the walls blast away and you are in the middle of space watching the TARDIS fly around against the space squid things. With the Crinis defeated, the Doctor drops you off back where you belong, at the museum.
Spoiler end – It’s safe to read again now
In the museum section you can spend as long as you like looking around as there is a lot to see, including three TARDIS consoles, my personal favourite being the Tenth Doctor’s damaged console from ‘The End of Time’. Many variations of the police box are scattered throughout, including the War Doctor’s TARIDS, accompanied by the Moment and the Clara memorial TARDIS which does look gorgeous.
There are so many monsters and costumes on display, all set out in sections, moving from the TARDIS consoles, to the monsters and villains, to the Doctor’s costumes and there was even a Torchwood section which was lovely to see.
I loved seeing the progression of the Cybermen and how they have changed over the year. I also never really appreciated how threatening the Daleks actually are until I was stood face to face with them. I must admit that I even found the Paradigm Daleks terrifying, as it seems to tower over you. It’s a shame they didn’t do much with these variations of the Daleks, as I must admit they do actually look really good in real life. The 2010 version of me would not be impressed that I’m not admitting that.
The Doctor’s costumes are always great to look at and I did enjoy the Day of The Doctor section. It wasn’t all for me as even my girlfriend enjoyed looking at the costumes of the different Doctor’s and Companion, her favourite being Clara’s dress from ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’. The final section was completely dedicated to Series Nine, with costumes, set pieces and villains all laid out in order of episodes. It’s worth noting that since my visit, the complete Series Ten exhibit has been put on display.
After leaving the exhibition you then walk straight into the shop which is filled with an abundance of merchandise from posters, t-shirts, costumes, mugs, DVDs, books, figures, statues, replicas and a whole lot more. Here is where I picked up my merchandise pack that came with a lot of goodies.
The exhibition was a great example of how to show the history of a much loved TV series. A lot of thought and dedication has obviously gone into this place and it is a shame that it will be coming to a close next month. Any Doctor Who fan would have a great time here, you could spend hours looking at all of the different costumes and props, so I would highly advise to give this place a visit. I spent about 2+ hours at the exhibition but could have easily spent more time looking at everything; however I did need to leave, as my time to visit the TARDIS set was closing in. I will be writing another article about my time on the TARDIS, so keep an eye out for that and definitely go and visit the Doctor Who Experience if you can, before it closes its doors for good.
If you’ve ever been to the Doctor Who Experience then what was your favourite part? If not then are you planning to go before it closes? Please leave a comment as I’d love to hear what you have to say