It’s billed as a Shrek-tacular experience, but would my family and I - who have never really got into the Dreamworks movies starring the famous green ogre - agree as we prepared to enter the Kingdom of Far Far Away.
To be more precise we were in London, on the bank of the River Thames close to the London Eye and about to enter Shrek’s Adventure.
The experience lasts about 75 minutes and takes you through a series of fairy-tale themed rooms where you’ll meet a host of characters as the story unfolds amid a range of special effects and tricks.
After a series of photo opportunities against green screens (you later get the chance to purchase a travel journal where you’ve been superimposed into the book alongside Shrek and his friends), it’s off to meet Princess Fiona who invites you to climb aboard a spectacular 4D flying bus ride (if you’ve been to the 4DX cinema screen in Milton Keynes you’ll know what to expect).
With Donkey at the wheel, guests soar above the London skyline with their favourite Dreamworks pals whizzing by. But disaster strikes and without giving too much away the bus crashes and you then embark on a quest to find Shrek, avoid the witches on your tail and return home in one piece.
The rest of the experience involves walking from one room to another where characters help you progress through the story.
A visit to Shrek’s swamp is where you’ll find Cinderella, and it was here one poor chap got chosen to be part of the show to comical effect as it involved a toilet and some silly sound effects.
It was here also where the first prop was handed out – as luck would have it to my eight-year-old son (much to the disappointment of his 10-year-old sister) – which needed to be delivered to the Storyteller character in the next room to allow the plot to develop further.
These props were a great part of the show as each child simply loved the responsibility of taking the object to the next room so the adventure could play out - and you got the impression the kids really felt immersed and that they were playing their part in saving the day.
Other favourite rooms for my children were the The Poison Apple Pub and The Muffin Man’s House where trouble was brewing (in a bubbling cauldron), and the Gameshow room starring Pinocchio was a good laugh.
As for the adults (and it wasn’t really aimed at us) we enjoyed Sleeping Beauty’s gimmick as she tried to deliver her lines, the Mirror Maze which is guaranteed to confuse and the surprise in the dungeon where Shrek and Rumpelstiltskin were seen running around the outside of the room to hilarious effect.
I’ve been to an experience similar to this before while on holiday in Devon (The Smugglers and Pirates Experience in Brixham) where you also moved from room to room to hear a story.
The kids had quickly been bored there but Shrek was head and shoulders above that terrible venue - you could hear all the (very enthusiastic) actors very clearly for a start, and none of them started their spiel before all the public had made their way into the next room.
After the adventure, there’s more fun to be had in the Arrivals Hall with a colourful line-up of other DreamWorks pals in themed sets from the worlds of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon - so get those cameras at the ready. Then it’s time to peruse the aforementioned travel journal and see if you want to buy a lasting memento of your ‘trip’.
The attraction is advertised as being best suited for the 6-12 age range, which I think is spot on as I do feel that in a year or two’s time my children might just deem all this fairytale magic a tad babyish.
All in all it was, as promised, that Shrek-tacular success and got the thumbs up from my youngsters.
As mentioned before we’re not mad keen fans of the green ogre, and if your family’s the same I’d still definitely advise you to give Shrek’s Adventure a go. And if your children are huge admirers of Shrek then there really is no excuse not to hop aboard that bus to Far Far Away.
For more information see https://www.shreksadventure.com/london/