We had a lovely half term and spent a few fun filled days in London where we decided to visit the new Merlin Attraction Shrek’s Adventure London with Dreamworks Tours. We all enjoyed the films and our oldest daughter who is 16 has grown up watching and loving the films and still likes to watch them now. Our girls are 7 years apart in age, Lara is 9 and Siobhan is 16 so it’s tricky sometimes to get the attractions right for them both but they were both really keen to go (as they love the films) and try out the attraction and once we had booked our time slot in (you can pre-book online, you must do so 24 hours in advance though) we were eagerly anticipating the visit.
On the morning of our visit we walked down the south bank and as it was half term it was very busy with queues for the London Eye stretching out down the street, but we had arrived earlier than our allotted time so I was hopeful we wouldn’t have to queue to long. Once at the entrance we were relieved to see the queues weren’t too long at all and the staff directed us to the area to stand in line and wait to collect our tickets ( see at the end of the post for all the prices)
We had to wait to get our tickets even though we pre-booked online but perhaps you they could change it so you can print them out at home and display them instead to make the transaction a little quicker. Regardless whether you have bought tickets online or on the day you still have to queue up. It wouldn’t be so bad but once you have your tickets you then have to start in another queue (which took about 20 minutes) to get into the attraction. Thank goodness we arrived early otherwise we would have been very much over our time slot! My advice if you do decide to visit is to arrive at least half an hour before the time you have booked for to allow time to get your tickets and get in the queue to start the tour.
Once the staff are ready to take the group through, there are about 25 in each group, you have a photo opportunity with a green screen behind you (later we saw they had donkey, Shrek and all the Shrek characters behind us in the photos) and at the end of the tour you can opt to buy a souvenir book with lots of photos of your tour to take home.
There are no opportunities to take photos during the experience and they advise everyone to turn off their phones, you can take photo’s at the end of the tour when you get to the Arrivals Hall though, and there is the option to purchase the photo book at the end as well.
Next it was on to the Magic Bus Depot with Princess Fiona who told us all about our ‘mission’ to find Shrek, the decoration is very well done and all the children looked really excited and enthralled by the story telling with plenty of funny quips in the dialogue. We then all boarded the bus which would ‘drive’ us to our next destination from London’s south bank to the land of Far Far Away to find Shrek.
The 4D effects are really wonderful and this was a real highlight for the girls as they loved it. You are safely buckled in to the bus and don some special glasses to see the effects, and as you fly through London you are guided with characters from Kung Fu Panda, the penguins from Madagascar and How To Train Your Dragon. Donkey is on board with you driving the bus and the kids on board loved his funny dialogue. It feels as if you are really flying and moving from side to side and as the bus prepares to ‘land’ it hits one of Rumplestiltskin’s most favourite witches, this makes the bus crash land and the story then unfolds that you now have to find your way out of the forest to find Shrek. The best 4D cinematic experience I have been on and really great to have at the beginning I felt. There are height restrictions on the bus (0.9m) and some young children may be afraid of some parts as the witches flying around the bus could be a little scary.
The remainder of the visit was made up of 5 rooms we had to ‘find’ and I have to say all the actors were really outstanding in their performances, the children were captivated by them and this was really sweet to see. Watch out for the two favourite rooms of ours – the Fortune Teller who was very funny and also Doris The Barmaid (Man!) both were excellent for the kids and adults alike. Each room you go through they give a special ingredient to pass on to the next room to further your quest which is a fun aspect for the kids. We went through all the rooms which carry on the story and get some of the kids involved including getting very lost in the Mirror Maze!
Revisiting all the famous places from the Shrek films kept the story alive and we went through Shrek’s Swamp, to the Poison Apple to a Game Show and to the Muffin Man’s House (and more) with the guidance of the actors all the way. Once we had broken out of jail with the help of Shrek we ended up at the Arrivals Hall with Shrek to greet us for a photo opportunity and as it was Halloween when we visited they also had a spooky set up with all manner of things to smell and touch. The girls were presented with an old fashioned lollypop and we moved on to the end of the tour which was the room with the characters from Madagascar, How To Train your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda in where we could meet the characters for some photo’s.
The end of tour you are directed to a room where they present you with a book you can purchase for £30 with all the photo’s that were taken during the course of the visit, but we declined this time as I had some nice photo’s of the girls at the Arrivals Hall. All that was left to do was the gift shop and I must say it is quite pricey as many are, we bought a little token of the visit and left the shop out to the South Bank to find somewhere to have some lunch.
After the tour while we were having lunch we talked about the morning and what we thought, our teen enjoyed it to a point but she is too old for it really but loved the 4D experience. Our 9 year old echoed the sentiments of the 4D ride as she loved it, she felt some of the rooms were a little stilted but there were some funny bits too. My OH and I thought the concept of a fully immersive attraction different and fun, the high point being the beginning with the 4D cinematic experience and the tour is enjoyable and funny in parts, it’s a little hard to gauge the age this would be most suitable for as the 4D ride may be too scary for the under 5’s but the rest of the tour would be perfect for this age range. We decided that the attraction would really be for 6 – 9 ideally.
Do plan ahead and book online if you can as you get a 10% discount and if we were to return again I would make sure I arrived early to combat the queues, and I would take advantage of any offers online or promotional offers which offer discount off the full price. It’s always worth checking to see if any brands or companies are offering discounts (children go free etc) as they often will bring these out in the children’s school holidays.