Qype: Dickens World in Chatham

Chatham

Dickens World claims to have attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Well all I can say is that we never found them.

It is located in the middle of a factory outlet shopping area and shares the same car park – which means finding a space can be fun.

After buying your ticket you climb a flight of stairs and enter Victorian England. You walk across a bridge and then descend into a courtyard. Here you find a small snack bar, toilets and a gift shop. Also around the outside of the courtyard are various buildings and doorways leading to some of the attractions. There are also various members of staff dress in custom and who play the part of a Victorian.

There is the Great Expectations boat ride where you can relive “Magwitch’s escape from the prison ship”. Apparently. The queue for this ride takes you past two prison cells, but unfortunately the audio that was being played here could not be heard above the noise of the people in the queue. Not that they were noisy, just that the audio quality was poor and the acoustics were terrible. It was only my daughter, who had the guide book, who actually new what the boat ride was about. During the ride itself there was no commentary until the very end when some of the Dickens’ characters were pointed out.

Next on the list was a visit to a Victorian school room, complete with teacher. This was enjoyable as the teacher was very good at playing the part, and also taught us some information about Charles Dickens. However the scene was ruined by the fact that each of the desks had an interactive screen on it with games for the children to play. Guess where my daughter’s attention was? Certainly not on the teacher.

At various times during the day, a small dramatised version of one of Dickens’ novels in produced in the courtyard. We watched a version of A Tale of Two Cities. To be honest this was the most amateurish show I think I have ever seen. Ignoring the fact that the cast were miming, it appeared as if it was totally unrehearsed.

On the opposite side of the courtyard from the entrance staircase was another which lead to an upper floor. Here there were some more of the attractions. The first one you come across is the Britannia Theatre with an animatronic show about some of the characters that Dickens created. This show was ok, but nothing special.

Next door to the Theatre was a temporary exhibition of customs worn in a TV series.

Then came the main restaurant, which we did not try as we had eaten downstairs in the courtyard.

The last two attractions consisted of a children’s indoor play area, which thankfully my daughter decided she didn’t want to go in, and a “4D Cinema”. Here you had to wear special glasses which allowed you to watch a 3d film of Dickens’ life.

Finally you leave the place through the gift shop.

Overall I felt this was a complete waste of a day. There was very little explanation of anything, and what was there was presented in a haphazard and amateurish way. I feel that it holds so much potential in that it could educate children (and adults) about life in Victorian England in general, and about the Dickens’ novels in particular. I would certainly not go back, and I would not recommend it to anyone.
Check out my review of Dickens World – I am Steaders – on Qype

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