Last week we were invited to London to a review of the Shrek Experience. Of course, being October half term this also means Halloween so they promised us that Shrek had decorated his home with pumpkins, cobwebs and all things Halloween to create a spooky swamp. There was even supposed to be a a special gift as a treat for the children to take home. More on that later.
So, Ross, Grace, my niece, Emily, and I dropped our luggage off at the Premier Inn where we were staying and caught a tube to Waterloo. We arrived at the designated time of 3pm to collect our tickets BUT (and this is where the organisation comes unstuck) we were told that we would then have to join the queue that stretched out of the door and down along the South Bank. We had looked online prior to our arrival at the timings of how long the Experience would take. This was because Ross had a meeting arranged for 4.45pm. When we were told that the queue out the door would be at least half an hour our faces dropped. After a lengthy discussion with Nick (who was wearing Andy’s badge), we were shown in through the gift shop and to the lifts to bypass the waiting throngs but missing some of the photo opportunities along the way.
We then joined a shorter queue of around 30 people ready to start the tour. A few people had a photo taken with Donkey – Ross and I included (Grace and Emily weren’t up for it) and then we joined the tour master who explained what we were about to encounter. Princess Fiona then guided us through to the first part of our experience. The Magic Bus Ride.
This has to be the best part of the whole thing. You experience a 4D ride on a bus which takes you out of the exhibition, over the London Eye and Big Ben and on to Far, Far Away. Along the way you meet the characters from How To Train Your Dragon and Kung-Fu Panda and then the characters from Shrek start to appear. As you bump into one of Rumplestiltskin’s favourite witches, you then crash land and have to make your way out of the forest before Rumplestiltskin catches you.
The next part of the tour was something that we all found a little bit odd if I am honest. Each room – around 5 in total – had an actor playing a part from one of the Shrek films. This included Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, the Muffin Man and, my two favourite performances, the fortune-teller and Doris the Barmaid(man). They presented us with tasks for a spell to give to the Muffin Man to make a magic potion to get us out of the forest.
I have to admit that I really couldn’t gauge what audience this part of the tour was trying to play to. Emily and Grace – aged 10 and 8 respectively – stood there slightly indifferent to the whole thing. They didn’t know whether to join in or just be a bit confused by the whole thing. There was not enough to keep the adults entertained and the only ones who really seemed to join in with it all were the 5 and 6 year olds. It was fun watching them!
Just before we paid a visit to the Muffin Man, Ross had to leave to go to his meeting. He asked ‘Sleeping Beauty’ to show him the way out as we said our goodbyes.
After we had all ‘broken out’ of our cell, we were shown to a corridor where Shrek was waiting at the end for a photo call with the girls. Thankfully this was not a event-only photography area and I was able to take some shots with my iPhone. We then moved on to another area with the girls had some fun in different photo booths with characters from Dreamworks.
At the end of this, I was handed a photo journal of our experience. Having missed the photo opportunities at the start of the tour, the only photo that appeared throughout the book was the one of Ross and I with Donkey! When I asked at the counter how much it would cost, I was informed that the whole book would cost £30 and an individual image would be £15. I considered this a complete rip-off if I am honest.
Then we moved on to the gift shop. It was a fabulous affair full of colourful toys, mugs and various types of toys BUT it is fair to say that it will break your bank balance. Grace picked up a cuddly baby ogre. £16. After much discussion and walking and thinking, Grace decided that a Puss in Boots mug at £10 and a large drinks cup with the Gingerbread man on at £6 would be a better use of her pocket money. Emily did the same purchasing the same cup but a Shrek mug instead of the Puss one.
As we stood in the gift shop, a gentleman with a very antsy 4 year old approached me. He asked me what I thought of the experience. At that point I hadn’t really had a chance to gather my thoughts but I told him that the Bus Ride was wonderful. He explained that they had arrived at 11am that day and was told to come back at 5.30pm to go on the tour. If he had known what I did at that point, I think he would have been kicking himself.
A family ticket which consists of 2 adults and 2 children costs £92.66 on the door and £64.86 online. Adult tickets are £26 or £23.10 when purchased in advance and children’s tickets £20.80 or £18.72.
Grace and Emily were very indifferent to the whole thing. They said that they would come back and they absolutely loved the Magic Bus Ride but the rest of the tour really wasn’t that interesting for them.
Ross says: ‘Some of the acting performances were very assured, especially that of the fortune teller. The 4D cinema section was outstanding, easily the best one of these I’ve ever been on that made you genuinely feel you were moving – and fast! Beyond that, I would question how suitable this experience is outside of the 5 – 7 age group. Our kids (8 and 10) were clearly finding it a little dumbed down for their tastes and kids under the age of 5 were baffled by the whole thing, leaving a very limited audience. There’s not enough in there to keep adults engaged either, so they should probably have a rethink, especially if they want to charge amusement park prices for admission!’
I have to say that I would agree. I feel that everything is overrated and overpriced. The actors playing the barmaid and the fortune teller were fabulous as was the Magic Bus Ride. We were told that the kids would come away from the Halloween experience with some treats – we saw no evidence of this at all. It does say subject to availability but we visited on Wednesday 28th October – a whole 3 days before Halloween! All I could see from a Halloween perspective were a few pumpkins dotted about. For the price, I would have expected much more effort and I am afraid that I will not be back. A bit of a disappointment. Sorry Shrek!
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Disclosure: Thank you to the staff at Shreks Adventure for providing us with 4 tickets in return for this review. Please note that all words, images and opinions have been formed by the owner of this blog and have not been influenced in any way. Please do not reproduce any of the content or images on this post without prior agreement from Verily Victoria Vocalises.