words: LUKE JACKSON
The atmosphere in the foyer of the Doctor Who Experience building is electric with the buzz and chatter of children, and it’s not even dampened by those unenthused parents who have been lugged along against their will. Even these lesser-fans find themselves awestruck by the energy of the tour guides and the “best bits” montage on the overhead screen.
The main leg of the experience is the interactive walk-through, with the first stop being the space museum, where an outer galactic spectacle visually pleases. A Dalek attack that follows is just the right amount of realism for children to be immersed in the moment yet not quite scared to death. A surreal walk into the infamous blue phone box is followed by a computer game style interactive navigation of the TARDIS, where children are urged to take to the controls and guide the marvellous machine itself. The recreation of the inside of the TARDIS strikes the perfect balance between futuristic and retro that we have come to expect from the series, and to compliment this it shakes and jolts (though not quite as violently as the real TARDIS one would imagine). A head-on confrontation which followed made me question if we had actually been invaded by metallic monsters, where bleating sirens are juxtaposed with booming voices of the Daleks. The grand finale is an epic 3D flight through the vortex, during which many ducked and dived as Stone Angels appeared to come out of the screen and into the room.
The interactive experience is clearly made for children, and is unlikely to provide an alarming thrill for most adults – our life experience has taught us that real time machines are much more turbulent. However, it is a good laugh even for those that find themselves unshaken, and witnessing the fun had by the kids is a joy in itself. For adults, it is worth going for the exhibition that follows, which is packed full of original Doctor Who memorabilia and nostalgic props, sure to be a treat for any fan of the series. The original TARDIS, a detailed timeline of the succession of the different Doctors and lifelike models of the famous adversaries of the Doctor along the way are just some of the exhibits here which can’t be seen anywhere else.
It can’t be argued that the huge majority of attendees are children who have cajoled their parents into coming in exchange for spending the rest of the day doing less fantastical activities such as walking along the bay, or trawling the shops of St Davids 2, however, there is undeniably a mix of people queuing up, leading me to the conclusion that Doctor Who fans come in all guises. The unwavering queues prove that the immense popularity of Doctor Who shows no sign of abating any time soon.