I recently went on a vacation to London and took one day to take a train out to Cardiff, Wales. It’s a wonderful city full of great shops, old castles, and a gorgeous waterfront bay. But one of my main goals was to go to the Doctor Who Experience. When the BBC brought Doctor Who back in 2005, the show was based at their offices in Cardiff (the show was filmed in Wimbeldon Studios in London from the 60s through the 80s). With the show a huge hit, it didn’t take too much effort for them to fill a massive warehouse with props, costumes and sets from throughout the show’s 50+ year history. Following is my overview of what you get out of the experience.
The Doctor Who Experience is located in a massive hanger in Cardiff Bay, just a short walk past Mermaid Quay where spinoff show Torchwood was set.
You can walk past the secret elevator to Torchwood’s underground headquarters and before entering the hanger, you can see a TARDIS floating above the bay on your right.
In the lobby, there are a handful of costumes from the recent seasons: a Weeping Angel, an Ice Warrior. To the right is a pinball machine you can play based on the Classic series. To the left is a cafe with a Smiler from the Eleventh Doctor’s run.
Tickets are timed so eventually you queue up in a small area by the front desk that has a lot more costumes and props. I am only showing a small handful in this article. I don’t want to give it all away!
The Experience begins with a host in character giving you a video presentation about who the Doctor is. This becomes a 30 minute interactive walkthrough tour. A time/space incident occurs and you walk through a crack in time (a crack in the wall) and enter the TARDIS. You get to walk through the hallways and rooms of the TARDIS while the 12th Doctor, in exclusive footage, works to fight off some sort of space monsters attacking the TARDIS. At one point you get transported to Skaro, home planet of the Daleks. Another time, you end up walking through a cemetery full of Weeping Angels. It’s family friendly but fun. Kids have to find three time crystals along the way and in the end, you get to use controls on a TARDIS replica set and the floor shakes around.
Ultimately, it deposits you “back on Earth” but supposedly in the 60s, when the show started. It’s a good entry to the museum portion although the conceit is dropped right away and you just walk around looking at the actual sets, props and costumes.
This floor is full of larger stuff like TARDISes and console sets. They are the actual screen-used props so if you’re a fan, like I am, it’s pretty exciting to see Bessie and K-9.
Then you walk upstairs where the vast majority of the costumes are. Because it’s a hanger, the upstairs is a lot warmer. They warn you. It isn’t that bad. I mean, they don’t want to put these one of a kind props anywhere they would get damaged. It’s absolutely massive. Here’s honestly just a snippet of what you can see:
Finally, you exit through the gift shop. It has t-shirts, mugs, action figures. Not really anything you can’t find on amazon, I’m afraid. It is a large selection of items but they didn’t have any of the t-shirts I liked in my size so I didn’t buy anything. I was content to just take photos. It will take you at least an hour to go through the whole thing. Tickets are only £14 in advance so that’s less than $20 bucks. Totally fair value if you’re even a casual Doctor Who fan.