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Contender for the most over-hyped attraction in the UK
Eden Project (Cornwall)
Member Name: mosaic369
Eden Project (Cornwall)
Date: 22/08/09, updated on 23/08/09 (150 review reads)
Advantages: The rain forest biome
Disadvantages: Over-priced, not much to see or do
The Eden Project is probably the most famous man-made attraction in Cornwall. I heard quite a lot about it in recent years and I was very eager to see it for myself this summer, even though I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew it was going to be rather expensive, but I was still shocked to discover that standard tickets cost £16 per adult. Luckily, we came across a deal on the Internet, which offered a reduced entry fee of "just" £10 and free entry for children after 3 pm until 8 pm during extended opening hours on certain days in the summer. This seemed like a good deal, especially that we would do anything to avoid big crowds.
When we arrived at around half past four, we were surprised to see the scale of the car parks. There are several sizable car parks scattered around the site. They are marked with the images of fruits instead of the usual letters and numbers. Some of them are located at a considerable distance from the entrance, so there's a shuttle service to transport visitors back and forth. We were first directed into a car park by an attendant that had no spaces available! We finally found a spot in the Plum section and we were able to walk to the entrance from there. It was about five o'clock by the time we got to the entrance. Many visitors were leaving by then, so we didn't have to wait too long to get in, only about ten minutes. I don't think we could have put up with the long queues during peak periods. Knowing ourselves, we would have probably turned around and drove away fuming that we wasted our time and petrol to get there. I can imagine that many visitors who wait for a long time to get in will end up very disappointed with what the site has to offer. It quite simply doesn't live up to the expectations. It must be the most over-hyped and under-developed attraction in the UK!
So what is there to see at the Eden Project? Two giant greenhouses, and that's it. Undoubtedly, the constructions are impressive from the outside and offer a great photo op. The domes contain an imitation rain forest and a Mediterranean biome. The rain forest biome is a lot bigger and far more impressive than the Mediterranean landscape.
Inside the rain forest dome, the climate was extremely hot and humid. Visitors are advised to drink plenty of water from drinking fountains and you should be careful if you have a heart condition. Also, look out for your camera lenses misting up! We spent about a good half hour in the rain forest dome, looking at the giant trees, plants, ponds, and the waterfall. We discovered some strange looking ants that, I assume, were imported along with the plants. It was interesting but it didn't really wow us that much, to be honest.
We were quite eager to quit the rain forest after a while as the heat and humidity were getting to us and entered the adjacent greenhouse, connected by a large cafeteria in the middle. The Mediterranean dome is arguably less exciting, as many of us will have seen similar sceneries for real in Greece, Spain or Italy, for example. It was pleasant, but nothing special. We spent only about 15-20 minutes in there. I was quite eager to explore some more sceneries, when to my disappointment, I came to the realisation, that that was it.
After visiting the greenhouses, we wondered around outside aimlessly, had an ice-cream, took some photos and looked at a sculpture made out of junk. I couldn't help wondering that the whole place had seen better days and it looked as if it could do with a face-lift. We came across an educational exhibition with some animated compositions that lit up and started moving periodically on a timer. It failed to impress even our four-year-old, who would have preferred to push some buttons to bring the animations to life. The wall made out of old fridges where children could play with letter magnets is hardly worth mentioning. There was also a separate area with some sort of raft and tent builing activities going on inside, but they failed to inspire our four-year-old as they were aimed at older children. Our son was more interested in the gift shop, where he bought a wind-up torch with his pocket money. It was a good purchase for just £2.50 and he's been playing with it ever since.
In my opinion, the Eden Project is over-hyped and grossly over-priced. It was just about worth visiting but only because we got a discount and we managed to avoid the crowds during the extended opening hours - although it was still rather busy. The rain forest dome was interesting, but if we had had to queue for hours and pay the full £16 to see it - I would have been very very disappointed.
If you would like to find out more about the Eden project, please visit their website: http://www.edenproject.com/
Summary: Visit during extended opening hours in the summer and don't expect too much.
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