Newest Review: ... fun but perhaps just two hours, maybe. The entrance lobby had a few interesting gadgets and interactive displays, but I remember thinkin... more
Travel into space without leaving London!
Member Name: weebagpuss
Date: 11/06/01, updated on 11/06/01 (142 review reads)
Advantages: fantastic audio-visual display, interactive exhibits, educational and fun
Disadvantages: expensive (but good value if combined with trip to Madame T's), crowded
If you've read my opinion on Madame Tussauds, then you will know that I visited the Planetarium in part to avoid the long queue to get into Madame Tussauds. The Planetarium is part of the Tussauds group, and located next door to Madame T's, with a connecting door between the two - thus once you're inside the Planetarium you bypass the queue to get into Madame T's – nice one!
Unfortunately however there is a downside - it is a little pricey to say the least. A single ticket to the Planetarium is £6.50, and a combined ticket to both Madame T's and the Planetarium is £13.95. I think the combined ticket is definitely the best option, as it is only a couple of pounds more than the regular admission price just to Madame T's.
Personally, I found the Planetarium to be the much more interesting of the two attractions. Even though I am not a science fan at all (history is much more my thing as you’ll probably have gathered if you’ve read any of my earlier ops), I still enjoyed it, which is certainly saying something, as normally I will avoid anything scientific like the plague!
You start off by going into an exhibition which is about the planets - it is well presented, informative, and interactive. There are many fascinating facts throughout - such as the fact that on the moon everything feels six times lighter than on earth. It’s these little facts which help to draw in the ordinary visitor with no previous knowledge, encouraging them to explore further. The interactive element is also good, as it has computer touch screens, the occasional game, and my particular favourite, a model of a black hole which you put 1p and 2p pieces in, so that you can see how a black hole sucks in all matter. Things such as this help to break up the absorption of information and so you learn without realising it. It is also explained in a way which is accessible to all, so I would recommend it for children, from abo
ut the age of 7 upwards I would think.
The main part of the Planetarium is of course the dome, where you sit in a theatre, which takes you on a fantastic audio-visual trip through the universe, using the walls and ceiling of the dome. This is done by Digistar II, the world's most advanced star projector. It is dark inside, so maybe small children would feel a little scared. The seats are comfortable, and it is also quite relaxing as well as being educational. The graphics and special effects of the tour are superb, you simply sit back and watch the universe unfolding in front of your eyes, as if you are on a space mission yourself. Whilst the seats remain static throughout, the effect is such that you really do believe that you are travelling. In fact, at times, you can feel a little dizzy! You learn about types of stars, galaxies, black holes, worm holes, the planets, the sun and much more. There is not a vast amount of detail, so it is suitable for everyone with no prior knowledge. It also works well in conjunction with the earlier exhibition.
Are there any disadvantages? Well, I personally found it a bit too crowded for my liking, even though I went out of season, in the depths of midwinter, which means you might not get as much time as you want with some of the interactive exhibits. It was also quite warm in there - would have liked some better air conditioning! I also wish that the main planetarium experience in the domed theatre had been longer - I was really getting into it and then it ended!
Overall though, a great trip for the whole family, educational but fun – always the best way to learn anything, and suitable for all but the youngest children. No previous knowledge is necessary, and as I discovered, even people who are not of a scientific bent will enjoy it. Whilst it might be a little basic for science students, everyone will appreciate the trip through space!
To get there:
Nearest tube statio
n to the Planetarium is Baker Street. (Metropolitan, Circle, Jubilee, Bakerloo and Hammersmith & City Lines)
Buses: 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139, 159, 274
Website: http://www.madame-tussauds.co.uk/site/planet/f_pl. htm
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