Saturday 11 July 2015

Shrek's Adventure! comes to the South Bank

If you are a fan of the Shrek films then this new major attraction on London's South Bank is sure to delight you. It is different to any other attraction I've ever visited in the UK and reminds me of a mix-up of a theme park, Ripley's Believe or Not and Madam Tussuad's all rolled into one.

After slowly plodding along the South Bank in a crowd so thick we had to hold tightly onto our children we were super pleased to see that the queue for Shrek's Adventure! was very short. I assume this is because it only opened on 1st July and perhaps it is not as well known yet as the other Merlin attractions like the London Dungeon that had an appalling queue. You can pre-book or turn up and pay but the attraction is timed and as it gets busier you would have a longer wait from buying your ticket to the time of entry I expect.

The staff all look super smart in their blue bellboy outfits and we found them all to be very smiley and friendly as I'd expect from Merlin staff. Right from the start the photo opportunities present themselves and you can have your picture taken with Donkey outside the attraction. Once inside you join a queue and have your tickets scanned, bags checked and photos taken against a green screen ready for some Shrek shots later. At this point we got excited and expected to be led into the main thrust of the attraction but sadly it was a queue again and as your party get moved one party at a time into the lift with a host, this takes a while.

Once upstairs we were pointed to the toilets (but not told there would not be another before the end) and luckily I made the kids use them. JJ found it hilarious that the toilet doors all had graffiti style slogans like 'better out than in'. There were a few nice things to look at as we moved through this area, like Shrek themed stain glass windows. We then entered another room and guess what?  Yes it was a queue again. It is here you find the lost and found point where you can securely leave your buggy as they are unable to be taken into the story tour.

The guys in the lost and found were fun and they instigated choruses of Happy Birthday and a Mexican Wave but you could see from peoples faces that they just wanted to get in and for the fun to start. I think DreamWorks missed a trick by not having some screens around these waiting areas with some animations on them.

As we approached the 'Enjoy your Tour' entrance we were sure that it all was finally about to start but not so, another photo and another queue again and by this point we had been waiting for 35 minutes. Our tickets were timed for 1pm and we actually entered the first part of the story trail at 1.40pm and in all our opinion there had not been anywhere near enough to keep us amused or happy. At this point I thought DreamWorks Tours were really going to have to pull something out of the hat to make this attraction work for my family and me.

It was Shrek-tacular!
Thank the Lord they did. From the moment we entered the Magic Bus Depot for our trip to Far Far Away Land we were all captivated. The 4D bus attraction is beyond anything I have ever experienced, it is truly amazing and we sat right at the back of the bus and were worried our 7 year old's might not be able to see anything, Not so, everyone got a great view and it was so exhilarating.

You follow the story trail round in an organised group of about 40, so there is no going off alone and exploring, it is more like a moving theatre show that you are part of. We didn't have any particularly young children in our group (5 was about the youngest) but I could see that smaller ones could easily have been scared and I know friends younger children have been.

Before the tour started we reminded our girls that everyone was actors and that it was just for fun, as well as the universal truth that good always wins over evil, so they have nothing to worry about. I am super glad we set this scene as Miss M can be a bit of a scardy cat and there was a few times the witches made her jump. Oh yes, there is scary witches in this, central to the story line in fact.

The actors are beyond Shrek-cellent
It's a bit hard to share too much with you without ruining the fun and I was not allowed to use my camera inside the story trail but I'll tell you that you and your group will walk through twelve different areas and this takes about 60 minutes in all. It is fast paced, full of fun and the actors are absolutely outstanding. The quality of the sets, the shows and the story line is exceptional. During various parts the actors pick someone to get involved and Miss M was picked a couple of times to help and this completely made her day, it was a shame that not every child could be picked and that the actor in each room didn't know what child had been picked before.

As you would expect the animations as we went round were outstanding too and never once did I feel rushed, it was all timed just right. There is something to appeal to everyone across the different story areas - beautiful princesses, a rugged hero (Puss in Boots), a love interest, scary witches, Rumpelstiltskin, a fun mirror maze (watch your nose!) and amazing 4D effects that have you jumping off your seat - quite literally!

Great Photo Opportunities
Once Shrek manages to rescue us from the evil Rumpelstiltskin we moved through to the Arrivals Hall for a welcome party and it was great that we could all have our photo taken with Shrek, the staff were super patient getting numerous shots of everyone with their phones and cameras.  Once you have had your fill of Shrek you can then pose for a hundred more photos if you like but these ones I loved as they are free, taken with your own camera and featuring many of the DreamWorks characters like the animals from Madagascar, Kung Fo Panda and the cast from How to Train your Dragaon.

This is the end of the tour really and at this point your are presented with a book and all the photos that have been taken of you as you went around the attraction. They were great photos and the book looked nice quality and a super keepsake but at £25 for the full book they are not exactly cheap. We declined to buy these and were happy enough with the photos we took ourselves.

Like most big attractions they like to capture you in the shop on your way out and there are some fabulous gifts, the theming is great. Teddies, clothes, key rings, cups, sweets.... you name it, it is there. We were lucky enough to be gifted some items from the gift range and the kids got to enjoy Donkey chocolate waffles, which are £10 for 340g of chocolate, a fabulous Gingy plastic cup (£6) and a poison apple lolly at £3.50.

Overall Score
I asked each of my family what they thought of their time in Shrek's Adventure! and what score they would give it as an overall. 10 being the highest.
  • Miss M was a clear 10/10 and she said she loved it and it was so much fun
  • Miss E 7.5/10 although after an hour or two she was asking me when we could go again
  • DH 5/5 as the 40 minute queue to start spoilt it for him but the 4D bus would be a 10/10 alone
  • JJ 7/10 and he had enjoyed a lot of the humour of the actors
  • Me 7/10 I found the actual 60 minute attraction wonderful but the queueing at the start was not expected when it was a timed ticket and this spoilt it somewhat
It is worth booking online in advance to secure a 10% discount, adults cost £23.40 and children £18.72 you can also buy a whole host of attraction passes if you fancy combing Shrek's Adventure! with one of more other attractions like the Coca-cola London Eye, Madam Tussuad's, The London Dungeon or Sealife Aquarium. if we had paid our family of five would have cost us £102.96 if booked advance and this is so much money for an hours entertainment but realistically you have to compare like for like so a trip on the Coca-cola London Eye would cost us £80.55 or £126.50 for the Warner Bros Studio Tour.

The South Bank
There is so much to see and do at the South Bank nowadays and it is an area we love to visit. The kids adore the street performers and my husband and I like to people watch, walk and see what is going on - there is always something different.

The Shrek Adventure is between the London Dungeon and Sealife London Aquarium, just by the Coca-Cola London Eye. If you are travelling into London then Waterloo and Charing Cross mainline stations are just a short walk away and there are plenty of buses and tube stations nearby - Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster.

Bring a picnic if you fancy and eat it in Jubilee park watching the London Eye go round and the river boats pass by and the kids will enjoy a play in the wooden park there too but watch out in peak summer times it is very busy.

A short walk up to the South Bank Centre and Royal Festival Hall will give you all the food eateries you need, places like EAT, Strada, Yo! Sushi, Giraffe, Wagamamas and of course lots of independent street vans selling tasty food. Then you can nip into the South Bank centre if you need a quick coffee and a wi-fi fix, it is free and easy to access, as our the toilets there!

Other Reviews
You might be interested to read what others bloggers that have visited Shrek's Adventure! have thought. Here is Chelsea Mamma's Review and Would Like to be a Yummy Mummy's.

Disclosure: We received entry for our family and a goody bag for each of the kids in return for an honest review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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