On the 9th September 2017, The Doctor Who Experience closed its TARDIS doors for good. After 5 amazing years of interactive fun, the adventure finally ended and the Gallifrey Museum ‘destroyed’, leaving us heartbroken. A safe and wonderful space for Doctor Who fans has left us. Here are some of our personal memories as well as some we’ve collected from fans all over the world to celebrate the Doctor Who Experience and what it means to us!
My whole world came to a halt the moment I stepped foot on the TARDIS. Every dream I’ve ever had came true and my heart leapt in amazement and wonder. In fact, thanks to the Doctor Who Experience, I’ve had the chance to see several TARDIS’s, travelled with The 11th and 12th Doctors saving the universe several times, witnessed my favourite monsters in the flesh and had the chance to walk like one too. I’ve spent hours pouring over the costumes of my favourite characters and monsters in the safe and welcoming home of Doctor Who.
Through the Doctor Who experience, I’ve visited the real TARDIS set and opened the doors for myself. I’ve met friends and found somewhere I belong. I can’t begin to describe the loss of this wonderful place to me, but I can thank it. Thank you Doctor Who Experience, for being everything we could ever hope for, and for bringing joy and happiness to so many.
One day you shall come back… Please?!
I first visited the Doctor Who Experience in early 2015. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was, I wanted to see the magic of my childhood come to life. I had never visited Cardiff before, and just walking through the centre of the city made me feel like I was secretly Gwen Cooper. There is something magical about that place. For a second, you can pretend that Doctor Who is real. That the TARDIS really is just parked around the corner, while he’s running across the city – saving the day.
The experience was brought to life and not just by the interactive experience, but by the people. It was a place where you felt surrounded by the people who understand you the best. Even if they are complete strangers, they are the ones who understand why your heart leaps at the sight of that blue box or when you get your first glimpse at the Tenth Doctor’s pinstriped suit.
I visited the Doctor Who Experience on the last day of its opening. A bittersweet feeling seemed to hang in the air, as everyone dashed about the experience, taking photographs with beloved TARDIS consoles and the outfits of our favourite heroes.
The Doctor Who Experience was not only a place to be surrounded by the props, costumes and set designs. It was a place to feel accepted and to feel proud of a show that has impacted each of our lives in unique ways.
What an amazing place to be. It’s like Cardiff turned into the capital city of the UK for Doctor Who fans! People flocking out of Cardiff Central Station in long scarves and bow ties from all corners of the globe to jump into taxis and of all places to ask for… the Doctor Who Experience? The taxi drivers must have been baffled!
It was a place to truly be yourself and know that everyone in that building was as full of excitable glee as you were. Even just making small talk could turn into potential friendship… and I’m not sure if that affect it had on people ever truly came to light. I really hope that the people who worked on that amazing experience know that what they made wasn’t just an adventure with the Doctor, it was a trip of the lifetime for friendships made stronger, confidence grown and even romances blossoming. Thank you for creating such a special place for fans; as long as we had it, it was our utopia.
I’ve got too many wonderful memories of the Doctor Who Experience to fit into one paragraph… but seeing the towering Pandorica prop is up there. I remember seeing it for the first time and being dazzled. Seeing these things in person only makes everything feel more… real. You could touch the patterned surface and slide your arms through the manacles of the chair.
I could almost feel the Doctor’s enemies surrounding me…. hear their voices; “the Pandorica is ready!” “… ready for what?” “Ready for you.”
To engage with the main, iconic prop from my favourite Doctor Who episode ever was really special.
I walked into the Experience in August 2015, dressed in uncomfortable business attire and with a heavy bag full of children’s books – I was visiting Roath Lock for work, not expecting the treat of an impromptu first visit to the DWE.
On the walkthrough I was surrounded by kids whose faces lit up with wonder and joy when they saw the Twelfth Doctor appear in a projection, asking them to help him save the day – and then realised my face was every bit as lit up as theirs. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I’d never made the trip to Cardiff to visit before. I felt like I’d been a bit lost, and had just arrived home.
What does it mean to me? Where you want to start? When I went t the Experience for the first time I had no idea what it would mean to me. I enjoyed myself, the tingle down my spine when I heard Romana’s voice for the first time, introducing me to my favourite Time Lord. I fell in love with the Experience and with the building. With Cardiff too, and did everything I could to move there in January.
It’s like the Doctor says about seeing the universe, seeing the DW Experience through someone else was always more exciting than seeing it on your own. In the end I saw it six times. My favourite visit included two American girls, one of which on seeing the First Doctor’s TARDIS burst into tears of joy that she’d be able to visit it at all.
It’s more than what people think it is, For me it’s a sanctuary, a safe haven. Just like I’ve always seen Doctor Who. For me, it will always be a place of wonder and inspiration and an absolute joy and I miss it more than I can put into words.”
‘Every time I watched the opening montage with Romana talking about The Doctor I would get goosebumps on my arms and tear up ever so slightly. It was such a powerful and moving montage that just showed why the show and fandom is so special to so many.’ – @Tom_Matt_Dix
@BethanAppleArt beautifully drew her favourite DWE memories!
‘Honestly the moment you stepped into the Gallifrey museum & the screen-used TARDIS set, years dropped off your life – you were a kid again. The tactile props, costumes and awesome gift shop were within walking distance from the studios, Millennium Centre and Mermaid Quay.’
‘I went a few years back and my favourite memory was definitely a Dalek looking right down at me, there was something about how big it was and its voice that was just really deeply chilling and I finally understood why everyone in the show is so scared of them!’
‘I remember the first time I saw the 80s console. That was magical for me… It’s like seeing something that seems so unrealistic ACTUALLY be real – that’s part of what made the DWE special. You got to see the magic face-to-face.’
‘My favourite memory of the Doctor Who Experience was actually the last day, and therefore the last time I went. It was Beth’s birthday, I was surrounded by Whovians I’d met online and we were all filled with childlike wonder.
We knew the Experience and how it worked, and it wasn’t long before we noticed additions on the last day. These additions included an extra Dalek on Skaro. Now, I’d had a hunch, but there was a moment when a Dalek came to life and my friend Em freaked out big time.
I’ve always considered myself a lover rather than a fighter, but when one of your friends is being harassed by the most evil being in the universe, you have to do something. I jokingly put my fists up to the Dalek, but it was unrelenting. I had no choice – people were in danger! I had to literally push the Dalek, with the very real chance of being exterminated. I pushed the Dalek slightly too hard, and whoever was ‘inside’ got their foot caught underneath the casing. It was the last day of DWE, and I had to apologise to a Dalek.’ – @GallifreyRchive
‘Dying next to my son’ – @Phoebeb69
Thank you for sharing your Doctor Who Experience memories with us, the spirit of that very special place will live on through the fans.