So! Last Friday. First: Everyone, meet Mary. She is another study abroad student from Atlanta, GA. She does not have a strong southern accent. I believe she is studying the classics here (which is Roman and Greek stuff). She is a Doctor Who fan and, like myself, loves Eleven, so we make a good team.
Mary and I caught a train down to Paddington, then set off to find The Doctor Who Experience. We were both very giggly and excited, unsure what to expect but certain it would be brilliant. And it was, my friends. It was.
After some minor almost-lost moments, we found our way to the building and the correct floor. We exited the elevator to Doctor Who theme music blasting. We traded our internet-bought tickets for real shiny tickets, gave them to a man in a suit and walked into a room filled with costumes from various episodes. Judging by the length of the room, they expected there to be long lines, but we were let in very quickly.
There was a little theater room with benches for seats. Mary and I got settled. I was pleased to see that though we had a family with kids in our group, there was also a young adult couple, which meant the two of us didn’t stick out so much. After about ten people came in, they started a video on the screen. It was basically a mash-up of clips and quotes from Season 5, which is my favorite season so I was pretty happy just to be seeing it on a nice sized screen instead of my laptop. At the end of the mash-up, it zooms into the crack in space and time. The screen parted along the crack, and we are all ushered through it into another room.
This room is apparently a museum in space in the future. There’s the huge telescope from the Queen Victoria episode, the Smilers from Season 5 (including a “Keep Calm and Smile On” poster), the throne from the Venice episode… There’s also a screen that shows us a map of the ship we’re on.
A robotic woman who looks like one of the ladies in Silence in the Library starts talking to us. I’m not sure how she was put together, but she was really, really realistic looking from where I stood. She informs us we’re on a space ship and walks us through the various artifacts. Then the lights start blinking, she shuts off, and the Doctor appears on the screen!
He’s gotten himself trapped in the Pandorica 2, which he complains is very unoriginal and looks exactly like the first one. He has a track on the Tardis, hoping to find Amy nearby, but apparently we’re the best he has to work with. (“Not just humans, but subhumans–shoppers!” he moans.) All of this with the Doctor is actual Matt Smith performing the script, and it was quite exciting.
The Tardis appears out of nowhere (not sure how they did that either!) and we are ushered inside. At this point Mary and I are grinning like mad. I think we were probably more giddy than the kids. We all take a station around the Tardis controls (back from the actual controls, alas) and the Doctor walks us through flying the ship (with a moving floor and smoke effects).
But then we’re drawn off course! We have to evacuate the Tardis because it’s overloading (or something, I don’t remember). We walk into a darkened control room of a new spaceship. Then a Dalek comes out of the smoke and starts yelling at us. I will say this for the Daleks: They are much more frightening in person. This may also be due to the fact they are pretty much as tall as I am (particularly the latest generation).
The Daleks are all set to kill us because we’re the Doctor’s friends. Then an old generation of Daleks shows up in their space ship and they start shooting at each other (with a light show to add drama). The Doctor tells us to hurry out while they’re distracted. We run through the next door, down some space ship hallways…
… And into a Weeping Angel forest. I tried not to blink… but I’m pretty sure I did. We rushed through this into another space hallway. We were given “radiation glasses” (3D glasses) and brought into the next room, where the Pandorica is sitting. Huzzah! The Doctor is able to beam himself back into the Tardis. The Pandorica opens and we see lots of old enemies getting sucked into the crack of time as the Doctor repairs it. Then it closes. The Doctor tells us we’re brilliant, he’s got to run off to more adventures, have fun. I’m like, “Hehehe, he said I’m brilliant!” Because really I’m probably more of a fan than the kids who were with us.
We leave and turn in our glasses. I was super happy with the experience, but sad it was over so soon. Then we turn the corner, and there’s a whole room of all the doctors’ costumes! And the Tardis! We linger here, and I’m sad again that it’s almost over. But we round the next corner…
And find ourselves right in front of Ten’s Tardis set.
We gape, we take pictures, we stare. It is beautiful.
There are more costumes (companions’) and there’s the original Tardis interior (which made me wish I knew more Classic Who). There’s an old version of the Tardis exterior (more pictures there), some Time Lord costumes, etc. We spend loads of time here running about and pinching ourselves.
Then we go on to the Hall of Monsters. This was actually way more interesting than I’d anticipated. There’s all the generations of Daleks, life size models of the Silence, a set from the Christmas special from this year, a model of the concept artists’ design room… It’s fantastic! We take a lot of corny pictures, ooo and aah over our favorite villains and redshirts. At last we go on into the gift shop.
There was a Tardis cut out (and Eleven and Ten and basically every life sized cut out you could want), and a Tardis tent, and a remote control Tardis, and a million other things far beyond my price range that I drooled over. I finally settled for some little pins and a mystery toy (looks like a lego but it’s something else). Turned out to be Rory! He now sits proudly on my bookshelf.
And that is how Mary and I flew the Tardis and saved the world. You’re welcome, everyone.
Leaving full of geek happiness, we then traveled to the British Library. We bought tickets and entered the Illuminated Manuscripts exhibit, which was mind bogglingly amazing. I think there were over 150 illuminated manuscripts to look at. By the end it was almost overwhelming!
I really loved the tiny prayer and devotional books (I want to call them the Psalmers but I don’t think that’s the right word). They were small enough to fit in your hand, but still ornate and beautiful. It was so cool seeing real gold leaf text, too. I kept thinking of the Secret of Kells–“turn the darkness into light.” Some of the pages were out of the spotlight, but the gold still shown in the darkness. It must have been ethereal to view those books under candlelight.
Among many Bibles and official documents and other awesome things, I also saw the original Lancelot du Lac! This made me geek out a bit.
We popped into the gift shop after we were done, where I spent entirely too much money (there were books! many, many beautiful books!).
Having thus completed our goals, we caught a train home and went to rest after a day of geekery well spent.