The City Adventurers headed to West Brompton to try out the BBC Earth Experience.
Entering the building we headed for the lockers and toilet facilities. Good to see there were free lockers to store your bags and the toilets have a poster detailing their sustainability credentials. In fact the whole venue is focused on using the best sustainable practices and maximising efficiencies.
We had been to a number of “immersive experience”s before, but this one was very different.
I admit we hadn’t read the description on the website that warns “When you enter the space, be prepared to be dazzled by the epic scale of the screens.” The size of the screens is epic and the size of the room is too……And on entering, you are struck by the fact that the room itself is mainly empty, save for the screens.
In an escape room you are immersed in the experience via the room decoration and props. In an Imax or surround cinema you know you are going to be sitting down viewing things on a giant screen. Here our immediate reaction was of being in a giant cinema without chairs!
I suddenly spotted there were a few bench seats dotted around and we managed to find space on one to gather our thoughts. Most people had managed to snag a flat bean bag, the size of a small picnic blanket and were making themselves comfy on the floor.
The films being shown aim to transport you around the world, highlighting nature on the seven continents. Each is given 10 minutes to showcase their wildlife, narrated by David Attenborough. The photography is amazing and seeing the wild life in such detail on so large a screen was impressive. Hardly surprising as the footage and music come from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit television series Seven Worlds, One Planet.
Initial reactions were, for a self-guided tour, we expected more of a path to follow. So far this had been a trip to the cinema to see a nature film without the comfy chairs and popcorn.
So, having watched the film for a whole continent, we set off to explore the room.
At the far end there are steps leading up to a huge Vista screen, which gives the impression you are soaring through the air. The stairs lead up to a balcony area for a new view of the screens.
On either side of the stairs are break out rooms. One on Water Life which appeared to be computer generated and one on Micro Life. Bugs up close and personal. There was even a bit sectioned off where, if you were feeling brave, you could hold down a red button and face some scary creepy crawlies. Well that was the idea anyway. I don’t think the idea of holding down the button worked as anyone near it got fed up of holding it down and let it go. Then the next person to hold it restarted the film. We never saw beyond the first creepy crawly!
Back in the main area, we moved from bench to bench getting different views of the other continents. However, while there was a lot to view and listen to, there was nothing to read. No in depth information about the wildlife. We concluded it was lovely to see but lacked something from an informative point of view.
As we relaxed into the show we found ourselves becoming more immersed in the experience. If you watch everything once, the experience takes around 70 minutes. However, you are welcome to stay as long as you like. Depending on how much you relax into the experience, I imagine you could stay a few hours and see amazing photography again and again. Or you could retain the impression of a giant cinema without chairs and leave early!
As you leave there is one final message from David Attenborough imploring everyone to protect our planet. A fitting end to the show.
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