- Contains some very minor spoilers about what is in the experience
We had such an amazing time at The War of The Worlds Immersive experience last week that we had to share it. We traveled to London from Bristol with an Autistic young person who is a big fan of Jeff Wayne’s show, having discovered it earlier this year by chance on its live tour.
A particularly brilliant English tutor supporting the teenager whilst out of education had really inspired a love of the story, causing us to grab last minute show tickets in Cardiff. The incredible show naturally led us to the immersive experience. Because of the nature of the teenager’s disability, it required a huge amount of planning and preparation as well as a two-night stay in London due to transitioning difficulties that can sometimes arise for autistic people. By the time we stepped foot in the venue, it had turned into quite a large financial risk, especially so for someone who really doesn’t like loud noises, surprises and jump scares – spoiler – it has many of these things but he coped through it driven by his love of the immersive performance.
The Immersive Experience has to be one of the best events we’ve been to. This isn’t some money-grabbing spin off, it’s a well-crafted experience which brings you right into the heart of the action in an adrenaline pumping way. You are taken through Jeff Wayne’s version of the story in what is essentially a flash back. This is told through a cast of fabulous actors, sets, horror – the dining rooms scene! – as well as being immersed in VR.
When the interval came it was very welcome. The pace of Act 1 is excellent, building up to an incredibly dramatic ending.
There is a break in the Red Weed bar before setting off into Act 2. Whilst I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I did finish the show feeling like I had been on a real hot air balloon journey.
The overall experience is very well directed, with each scene moving quickly into the next. The actors keep you fully engaged in the story, which is impressive considering they must also make sure people are moving through the experience in a timely manner – and the public is not known for its predictability.
This is achieved by restricting the number of people in each group so it never feels crowded.
The experience featured cinema, holograms, live acting, sets, VR and other elements all blended together in an expert way to create a tremendous show. It’s worth bearing in mind this is a very physical experience throughout. If you are not used to using VR or get motion sickness from travel, gaming or 3D, wear some wrist bands or be prepared for this.
You don’t need to have seen Jeff Wayne’s show to enjoy this experience. This absolutely stands alone as an event in its own right. But for those who also love the original album and show, it’s a bit lush too.
If you are supporting a disabled person, it’s probably a good idea to inform the crew before the show starts. We took a punt and didn’t, simply because we wanted the full experience on offer and in this capacity I was there as a carer to offer full support. Autistic people or those with sensory processing issues are likely to need someone on hand to support them if necessary because this experience really is fully immersive. It can be very loud and there are definitely surprises if you’ve never been.
Of all the scenes, we found the dining room scene the most challenging. It was brilliantly done, ramping the tension right up. But be aware that it is performed in complete black out.
There are some moments where you have to move quite quickly through the sets as well as clambering and sliding. I understand there are alternative ways through the experience, but if you have specific access needs, it’s a good idea to contact the experience before booking.
What was also really nice was the themed bar. It features a massive Tripod which billows out colored smoke to indicate which group of people need to enter the experience. It was an utter relief to find there was no queuing, crowds or busyness, which is something the autistic person I was supporting cannot cope with. The bar was chilled out, with table service and reasonable prices for London.
We are already planning to go next summer holidays when we’ve forgotten enough of the show to enjoy it fresh again. Really hoping the experience carries on booking into the future because this is an experience we’d love to make an annual event.
For more information about the immersive experience, visit: https://thewaroftheworldsimmersive.com/