Newest Review: ... branches of the path, as there are further indoor displays that I noticed visitors missing whilst we went around. There is an indoor 1930s ... more
Time For A Miniature Adventure
Babbacome Model Village (Torquay)
Member Name: tinkerbell18
Babbacome Model Village (Torquay)
Advantages: Well thought out, lots to see and do
Disadvantages: A little pricey, not very well maintained
Recently my sister and I went camping for a few days in the Torquay area of Devon. Being the organised pair we are, before we left we decided where we would like to go whilst on holiday. We had been to the Babbacombe model village several years previously, and all I could remember about it was that I really enjoyed it, so we decided we'd go again and see if it was as good as we remembered - and to be honest, we weren't let down.
Babbacombe Model Village is what you'd expect from its name, but with a few extras. The four acres are filled with various themed handmade miniature people, buildings and vehicles, situated in well-kept gardens in which the plants have been specifically picked to simulate life-size gardens. There really is a lot to get around, and what you can see there varies greatly, from Tudor houses to a massive city centre to a beach to a castle and even more besides. There are both indoor and outdoor displays; including an Eastenders display (don't worry, there are little things in the display for non-Eastender fans), a celebrity banquet. Besides the model village itself, there are other activities and displays that will appeal to the whole family. Children can spot famous characters in the village, as well as letters of the alphabet (it did take me a while to figure why random letters were placed all around the village). And of course, no search for famous characters would be complete without Where's Wally and the gang, who are moved around regularly.
I also recommend exploring different branches of the path, as there are further indoor displays that I noticed visitors missing whilst we went around. There is an indoor 1930s model railway that is breath-taking in itself, I'm afraid I didn't notice much about its history, but you can tell a lot of time and dedication went into it. Next to the model railway is another room with displays of handmade models from popular shows and movies, such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Trek and Star Wars. I was a little disappointed that some of the models were clearly bought in rather than handmade (especially as I myself owned some of them), and the lights on some displays weren't working, but as with the rest of the village still take a look because (besides the few shop bought models) it really is a fantastic display of the talents of the craftsmen working at the model village. I think the most interesting one, and the most hidden (it did look out of bounds) is a workshop with examples of what the craftsmen build and the textures they use, as well as voice overs which explain how the model village is put together and maintained. As I love behind the scenes stuff I found this interesting, but a little disappointing that it was just basically a small shed.
Upon entry there is decking that overlooks the entire model village, and for a miniature village it is rather big! When we were visiting there was a Bird of Prey display on the decking which I quite enjoyed. According to the website the display is on for the duration of the summer on certain days, and the teeny owl in particular is worth a look at! There's also a 4D cinema, which was showing a cartoon about Robin Hood, but does do other films depending on the time of year. We decided not to bother with this as it seems more of an entertainment for children rather than us older folk, but it may be a good plan if you want to avoid any rain! (It does cost an extra £1 with the model village ticket though). This leads on to the park, which eventually brings you back round to the café and shop (which you can also cut straight to from the decking if you need to). The café was a little pricey in my opinion, but a welcome refuge from the sudden rainstorm we experienced. The gift shop was full of random items that didn't really seem to relate to the village, and as someone who collects guides from places I visit I was a little disappointed with the lack of content in the village's guide, as well as the cost that went with it.
As much as I found the way the village had been thought out and put together fascinating and very inventive, there were a few disappointments. There were some voice-overs throughout the park that were out of date (talking about the amount of wind-power that may be in use by 2005), or that were in the wrong place. Also, although I appreciate that a lot of time and effort goes into making the model village, there was a lot of wear and tear on the houses and roads and the model village in general. This was a shame as I can imagine from looking at the indoor displays that the village would look even more breath-taking if it had been in better repair.
According to the website (as I myself can only tell you it's in Babbacombe), the model village is located about 2 and a half miles from Torquay harbour. It's also quite well sign-posted, which is unusual for a lot of the attractions we went to whilst away. The Model Village does not have its own car park, but is instead located in a local authority car park. Although a lot of the car parks my sister and I used were quite expensive, this car park seemed very reasonable in comparison: we only paid £3.50 for 3 and a half hours. This was too much time for the Model Village without the 4D film, but did allow us enough time to nip into the local town for some lunch as well. Prices (according to the website) are £8.90 for adults, £6.90 for children, but there are vouchers available.
Overall I did enjoy my second visit to the Model Village, but I'd definitely recommend a brolly because if it rains and you are exploring there aren't any shelters available. It was nice to see that although there were some maintenance problems, it was obvious to see that work was being carried out to expand the park and displays. It's just a shame that this effort wasn't put into ensuring the entire village was maintained before expanding. As an adult I am unable to comment on how enjoyable the village would be for a child, but it is very enjoyable for adults, and from the delighted yells from all over the park I gather that children seemed to be appreciating it. And like I said before, it's amazing to see what imagination can do. Just remember to charge your camera batteries, if only for the owls!
The website for the Model Village with opening times and events is: http://www.babbacombemodelvillage.co.uk
Summary: A mini way to spend half your day
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