Cardiff has been cemented as the spiritual home of Doctor Who, with the new Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay attracting hundreds of fans on its opening day.
Hundreds of fans queued to get in to the new exhibition when it opened today, many of whom came in costume as one of the Doctor’s 11 incarnations.
The Experience, which has previously been on show at London’s Olympia Two, is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Welsh capital each year, and could be worth up to £68 million to the its economy over the next five years.
The new attraction is in a purpose built, 4,181 square metre building in the Porth Teigr development in Cardiff Bay – just a stone’s throw away from the BBC’s Roath Lock studios where the series in filmed.
The Experience offers visitors a “journey through space and time” as they enter an interactive exhibition where they get a chance to fly the Tardis, and help the current Time Lord Matt Smith in a battle with the Daleks.
After running through the forest of angels, and a 3D show in the Pandorica Chamber, space-time travellers emerge into one of the biggest collections of Doctor Who props, costumes and sets anywhere in the world.
Never-seen-before props in include The Silence Spaceship, the Doctor’s Cot, and Matt Smith’s sonic cane.
And the verdict from those first through the door this morning was that Doctor Who had returned in style to its spiritual home. Ian Kubiak, from Gloucester, had brought his nephew and niece Harrison White, eight, and Karleigh White, seven, for the Experience’s opening day. Mr Kubiak said:
“It’s fantastic. It’s great that the BBC is so committed to the show, and the fact it’s going to be here for the next five years. It’s great for the area, and great for the show.
“To walk into the Tardis was brilliant, and the 3D show was one of the best I’ve seen. The kids were reaching out trying to touch the Daleks! It’s great for the kids, but also big kids like me.”
Seven-year-old William Francis, from Llanishen in Cardiff, came to the exhibition dressed up as Matt Smith, complete with a Sonic Screwdriver.
William said: “It was wicked! My favourite bit was when the Doctor said shut up to the Daleks!”
William’s mum Sarah Davies added: “He’s a massive Doctor Who fan so it’s been brilliant. We went twice to the London one, and it’s just as good.”
Eddie Agin, 18, from Los Angeles, said he had extended his trip to the UK especially for the opening yesterday. He said:
“I’ve been a fan for about a year. It’s the sci-fi adventure that keeps on going. I thought it was incredible. If you like Doctor Who, this is the place to be.”
Eight-year-old Elis James, from Blackwood, was chosen to cut the ribbon officially opening the Experience, surrounded by monsters from the show including a Cyberman, a Silurian and a Silence.
Elis, who was also dressed as Matt Smith, was joined by his six-year-old sister Seren – in costume as Doctor’s companion Amy Pond – and two-year-old Iolo, who came as a mini Dalek.
Their dad Rhys James said it was a “fantastic experience”.
He said: “Flying the Tardis was brilliant, and the forest of angels. “Elis has loved Doctor Who since he was two, so for him to cut the ribbon was just fantastic.”
Philip Murphy, managing director of live events for BBC Worldwide, said they had worked closely with the fans to find out what they wanted in the Experience, with the most popular request being the opportunity to fly the Tardis.
He said: “The fans are so important to us and we will continue to change the content of the exhibition over five years to reflect what the fans want.”
He added: “It’s really important for us to be here in Cardiff. This is where the programme is made – it’s the spiritual home of Doctor Who. From a personal point of view it’s amazing we have been able to find this piece of land right next to the studio, as it enables us to work much more closely with the production team and designers than ever before.
“We hope for Cardiff to cement and promote the link between the programme and the city, and to be one of the best tourist attractions in South Wales.”
More details can be found at www.doctorwhoexperience.com Tickets booked in advance cost £13 for adults, £9 for children, and under-5s are free. The Doctor Who Experience is open 10am to 5pm, seven days a week.