It is 1984 and I am hiding behind the sofa from daleks.
‘Are you scared? Do you want me to turn it off, do you want a cuddle?’ says Dad.
‘I’m just sitting here.’ I say, from the furthest corner of the living room, unable to choose yes or no. The pleasure and pain of watching utterly entwined.
Around this time we met Peter Davidson in a park where he was filming, my Mum was rather taken with him and I was completely amazed to have met Dr Who, a legend. He signed an autograph, not sure where it went.
Fast forward through time to 2015 and Visit Wales were after a family to film at The Dr Who Experience, I wasn’t sure, would my kids be old enough to cope? I read up, looked at recommended ages for the TV show and the experience, quizzed other parents, Mr A and I watched a few episodes and decided the Dr Who experience would be fine, but the TV show would probably need to wait a year or two.
They were a little bit apprehensive as we went in, perhaps our nerves rubbed off on them.
Having spent all the time in the foyer tormenting the film crew with his sonic screwdriver, Mr G went still, and quiet.
He stopped chasing garlics (it took a bit of convincing him they were darleks) and took to sucking his sonic screwdriver like a dummy instead. But if you look at his eyes here, you can see utter delight too, at being a little bit scared.
We had this crystal, we were told it would keep us safe on our adventure!
This is a fully interactive experience, expect to join the doctor on a mission deep into the tardis, space and time, and to save the universe. Sadly I can’t show you as the experience can’t be photographed or filmed. But I can tell you 6 year Mr G was so animated when he emerged – he had steered the tardis to safety and landed on another planet. There was a moment when we encountered darleks and he try to run off and hide, but it was soon forgotten, paled into insignificance against his achievements as a time lord.
8 year old L was bold and fearless as we explored a landscape of broken darleks to retrieve the crystals needed to save the world.
Here is the video of our experience
Afterwards there was lots of time to pose in the tardis and explore the costumes and props.
I loved being taken back in time! Do you remember these ones?
Then it was time to do some pieces to camera. Transformed by the Tardis into Dr Whos!
And some soundbites about what they enjoyed.
‘I’m not doing any interviews’, announced G, and then proceeded to deliver a very dramatic monologue in which he explained how he was a time lord, had driven the tardis and saved the world from darleks, luckily the camera was rolling. I looked at Mr A – how does he know all this stuff we laughed? Apparently Dr Who was suitably fascinating to him, so he had retained every scrap of info.
I won’t lie, getting G to do film stuff can be hard work, he is still young, and sometimes we have to cajole him, but he is often the one who comes across most naturally on film. The older we get the more inhibited we get I guess!
L did a brilliant solo job of delivering a series of lines and actions around a Visit Wales competition you can enter.
While Mr G kept me on my toes looking round the exhibits – security is tight as these are irreplaceable items.
Since our interactive adventure, they’ve really enjoyed watching the tamer David Tennant PG rated adventures. It was reading this article written by two Dads, in The Guardian, about the fors and against kids watching it, that took me right back to my childhood and convinced me they would be fine – fear is a natural part of childhood. Two weeks on and no nightmares about darleks – just lots of unforgettable, old fashioned family TV time – hiding behind cushions, squealing with excitement, animated discussions of the plot – we have two Whovians, no make that four!
The Dr Who experience is short, but amazing – is it worth it? Yes I think so, absolutely, it is a one of a kind thing to do, a theatrical experience and for my two launched a complete fascination with the TV show. For kids who already love Dr Who, I would say defintely.
Read all about it here on the Visit Wales site, they used the best pic of Mr G!
Cardiff Bay is a brilliant place for families with an incredible amount of stuff to do in the bay, within walking distance. Our hotel was a bargain too. You can also read the full details of our stay in this post: 5 Things to do in Cardiff Bay with kids over at Space in Your Case – we had an amazing night and day and I wish we could have stayed longer. Now where did we leave that tardis?