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Still A Dicken's of a Flop
Dickens World (Chatham)
Member Name: suehome
Dickens World (Chatham)
Advantages: Roomy car-park and no queues, clever animation and scenery
Disadvantages: Bland and uninspiring
It was at the end of the summer when we were on our way to the continent, that we needed an activity as a distraction en-route to our overnight hotel. You might think that Southampton to Dover is not too far but it is just so boring a journey that we like to break it up if at all possible. A trawl of the internet for something suitable came up with Dicken's World as a relatively new and novel attraction, and being in Chatham it could loosely be described as being en-route.
Fortunately, we were not greeted by the long queues bemoaned by many other visitors and there were acres of car park spaces. This should have told me what to expect, but without a second thought; and just pausing to admire the animated clock with its hint of the exciting boat ride to come, we entered the foyer.
We walked straight up to the ticket desk around 2pm; again no queues, so I was beginning to like this place; then even more so when I got a reduction of £3.00 on an adult ticket of around £12.00 for my disabled brother. We went through and down the steps into the courtyard. Spotting refreshment I headed straight for the cafe area which would afford us a good view of the themed central area. Cradling a reasonable cup of coffee we sat down to enjoy the playlet, which we quickly discovered was set around ' A Tale of Two Cities'.
Consequently, I think the subject matter for this playlet could have been chosen better; the action was confusing, the language 'high brow' and it dragged on without really engaging the audience. Most of the 30 or so people sat in the cafe area seemed unfamiliar with this particular Dicken's tale. However we were able to gaze around and be impressed by the excellent scenery and effects, and I was able to indulge in a little people watching; but overall my brother was bored.
Playlet finished we headed next to the Haunted House which was frankly pathetic, save for the Scrooge scenario which most people could relate with and enjoy. Many of the other exhibits were just holographic features uttering Dicken's speak, and not ghostly at all. The boat ride was our next goal, billed as a thrill it was completely bland and unexciting, not even a rat jumped out at me; but at least there was no wait.!! Certainly not a patch on the Pirates of The Caribbean ride in EuroDisney. The best indicator of it's entertainment value was that nobody wanted to go again despite there being no queue whatsoever.
We ventured into the learning area set in a Dicken's type schoolroom, but the desks and inert computer screens did not attract us to stay. A few people were tapping at keys; but I noticed that not many stayed for very long, so yet another opportunity to engage with visitors was not being effectively exploited.
The 3D show in a cinema area was good, enjoyable and actually brought Dickens to life as a historic icon. You could even begin to feel queasy as the animation took you on the Atlantic crossings to his US tours, and I did learn some facts about the man rather than the writer that I had not appreciated before. We were ready to leave around 4.30pm, having seen all we wanted to see, so this would not constitute a good day out for a family in my opinion.
Naturally, as you exit the place there is the inevitable gift shop with a range of goods and prices. Most of the items ( from books to chocolate bars and rubber tipped pencils) seemed a reasonable price and quality but we did not purchase anything.
All the staff throughout the venue were exceptionally friendly and helpful; clearly trying their utmost to bring the concepts to life for the few visitors that were there. I would estimate there were fewer than 100 visitors during the time that we were there.
It's just a pity that the attraction does not have enough charisma and adventure to generate the respect and admiration which Dickens should command. A wasted opportunity which I am sure will not survive the current economic downturn.
Thanks for reading.
Updated and enhanced from an earlier review published on Ciao.
Summary: A wasted opportunity
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