BBC Earth Experience Review
If you are a wildlife show or David Attenborough fan then you have most probably already heard of the BBC Earth Experience in London. Set in a purpose-built venue called The Daikin Centre in Earl’s Court this new for 2023 attraction aims to bring together our love for all things wild, the planet, sustainability, stunning images and films, as well as the perfect narrator to fully immerse us in the natural world.
“Experience an unforgettable journey through the natural world and explore the unique and extraordinary diversity of our seven unique continents on the most epic scale. Featuring bespoke narration from David Attenborough, BBC Earth Experience showcases breath-taking footage and music from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit television series Seven Worlds, One Planet, projected on multiple multi-angle screens using the very latest digital screen technology”
BBC Earth Experience Website
The experience sounded right up our street so we went along on a bank holiday Monday and here is my honest review…
Travel and Arrival at The BBC Earth Experience
Address: BBC Earth Experience, The Daikin Centre, Earl’s Court, Empress Place, London, SW6 1TT
The Daikin Centre is conveniently located close to the West Brompton train station, simply come up the steps, turn left and almost immediately you will see signs and flags advertising and directing you to the BBC Earth Experience. We travelled up from Basingstoke so took the train to Clapham Junction and swapped here for West Brompton, it was very straightforward.
If you arrive early and need food or refreshments there are plenty of places to choose from either just before the centre, on the High Street and also right outside – they had around 3 food trucks on the day we visited. Note that food and drink are not allowed inside the experience (we had water in reusable bottles which we did drink but I am sure they mean hot drinks/fizzy drinks and so on).
On arrival, there are staff on hand at the gates to direct you or to answer any questions but it is so easy to navigate and well-signposted that it was clear to us where to head to. You will need to have booked and chosen your timeslot in advance to get your e-tickets and they ask for these to be ready on your phone to be scanned as you enter just to make sure the line moves quickly and smoothly. Once inside your bags will be checked so to save time just have these ready and open to show.
Inside the main foyer, there is a large buggy park area and then toilets and water refill is to your right with the main entrance being straight ahead.
Inside The BBC Earth Experience
As soon as you walk through the small corridor and come around a corner you are instantly met by sound and amazing images on the large screens. The feeling I got when I walked in was just overwhelmingly magical. I didn’t quite know what to expect but it was honestly mesmerising. It was like walking into a huge cinema that is showing your favourite parts of wildlife shows on multiple screens, completely immersing you into that world. Better yet, it is set up for you to walk freely around with no tour guides or time restraints.
The Main Gallery
The main gallery room is where you will first enter. This is set up with huge screens across the walls, large angled ones in the centre with another section just to the right. The Water Life and Micro Life Rooms are both located off here along with the exit which will take you out to the Earth Room and into the Gift Shop. You can use this to go out to the toilets and then return to the experience.
When we first arrived we decided to sit in the main gallery for a while just to take in what was going on, to chat with the kids, to lay down and absorb the wildlife films and really get a feel for the place. There are some seats located around the rooms but the majority of people sat and laid on the floor, it was all very relaxed and everybody seemed really chilled, just quietly reflecting.
Our children are 5 and 9 and both enjoyed laying down on the floor watching the films. At this angle, it really did feel as though you were right in there, especially during the ocean scenes.
At times, you really didn’t know where to look because not all the screens show the same films but this seemed to give it more of the wow factor. At one point I was looking at little girls jumping around pretending to be kangaroos in one area and then I looked across to see jungle life happening in the other section. If you are a huge wildlife fan like me this will just make you smile from ear to ear!
“visitors can take a majestic 360-degree audio visual journey across all seven continents, from our Main Gallery space. Step inside and explore iconic landscapes and connect with mesmerising animals from around the world. This epic adventure brings environments to life for all the family. And the best bit? No passport needed!”
BBC Earth Experience Website
Vista Screen Level
The next level up is accessed either via the steps or lift and will take you to the soaring view on the huge Vista screen. Our boys loved this. If you stand right up to the barriers you truly feel as though you are floating above the stunning scenery. Just be careful if you get motion sickness!
Moving further up, again either by steps or lift you come up to the balcony level where you can get a complete view across the main gallery. Walking along the corridor you will see the gorgeous circular screens showing off some of the cutest animals around.
Moving around to the balcony area, you can choose to sit or stand to overlook the main gallery and take in all of the Earth Experience films.
Water Life Room
The Water Life room is darker than the Gallery but is much more interactive which was nice for the children. The large screen immediately to the left allows visitors to stand in front of it and either make the water or fish move using their arms and hands. To the back of the room, there is a similar smaller yet taller screen. I’ll be honest in saying that I felt this room could have offered a little bit more. Our waterways and oceans have so much wildlife that I would have expected more from a room named water life. Maybe they could have added some more interactive games for the kids with sharks or killer whales, perhaps identifying sounds (dolphins or whales), including a screen that took on a new angle and so on? The queues for the interactive screen really showed that there was a demand there for it.
Micro Life Room
In contrast, the Micro Life Room is bright and colourful and really eye-catching. We all enjoyed watching the screens change in this room and being up close to the images of the bugs. Again, it would have just been nice to have had something a little more for the kids to do in here. There is a tiny room to the right which has a screen showcasing the creepiest of bugs and yes the kids do get to press a button to make the videos play and it is in darkness but I kinda feel like it was missing a trick. My children did enjoy it, I was just expecting a little more.
The Earth Room
As you exit the main experience you take a walk through a corridor with some lovely images of David Attenborough and the team and then you come to a spectacular view of the Earth. David Attenborough gives a final word about the planet and sustainability which really leaves you with a powerful lasting impression.
How Long Can You Spend in BBC Earth Experience?
The films loop over an hour but there are different stories/videos happening in different parts so you can easily spend 2-3 hours wandering around, stopping at different points and taking it all in. We spent around 2 hours in total in the experience but if we hadn’t had the children I think we would have stayed a little longer (the smallest became a little restless).
The gift shop has some beautiful items including books, bags, notepads, pens, postcards and wildflower seeds etc. I thought it was quite reasonably priced which was a pleasant surprise. The staff here were incredibly friendly and chatty which always gets a thumbs up from me.
Kid tip: go here first so you have books/pens etc to keep them occupied if they become a bit restless (wish I’d done this for our 5 year old)
Sensory and Accessibility Pointers
A few pointers if you or your children struggle with sensory issues. It is quite dark when you first enter the main gallery but your eyes do adjust to this. It is also loud with both music and narrating plus the sounds of the animals/ocean/forests etc. There are also different images/videos happening across the room so this could well be a bit disorientating to some people – the sloping screen in the middle did make my eyes go a little funny.
The floor is nice, flat and even with a good grip on it which is particularly reassuring on the stairs. There are limited seats (I am sure people will happily move if you require a seat) but if these are full you can sit or lie down on the floor but do be warned that people sit down wherever they feel so do watch out for trip hazards and hands! There is a lift for wheelchair/accessibility access to the upper levels and plenty of staff on hand to ask for help/directions. There are accessible toilets and baby change plus I have also read on their website that even though the centre is breastfeeding friendly there is also a breastfeeding room for anybody who requires a little privacy, you just need to ask.
The Water Life Room, exit corridor and Creepy Crawly Bug Room are both much darker. People with phobias of spiders or creepy bugs and those with young children may not want to enter this room.
I promised an honest review and I always strive to provide one so my little niggles are:
- Ticket prices – it is a shame that an experience that isn’t long enough to fill a day is quite as pricey as this. It is definitely out of the price range for many people and for us it was a big treat that we did mull over. Maybe they will decrease this as time goes on? Who knows but at £15+ a child and £28.50+ an adult (the + depends on the time of day you opt for) it is quite an expensive 2 hours. I think it would have been a nice gesture if the BBC had offered a free return visit within this ticket price.
- More interactive moments – as mentioned above, I would have just liked to have seen a few more things for the kids to interact with.
- A bit stuffy – we felt it was a little stuffy at times and had to go out to refill our water bottles as we had drunk so much. I’m glad we had layers on that we could remove.
- Toilets – it was a shame that the toilets were located at the exit as it meant I walked all through the Earth Room before we were finished and it kinda ruined the ending if you get what I mean. We all needed the toilets at different times so we all saw this magnificent Earth Room separately.
- I would have loved to have seen more books on eco-living, sustainability, reducing waste, eco-cleaning etc in the gift shop.
The Best Bits
- The screens and footage
- The atmosphere
- The narration
- The Micro Life Room
- The feeling of being around many like-minded people
- Wasn’t too busy
- Talking to the children about wildlife and sustainability and overheating many others doing the same
- The Earth Room
Even with a few niggles I still came away completely blown away by the BBC Earth Experience and would highly recommend visiting. It’s like nothing I have ever been to before and seeing our wonderful planet and wildlife on these large screens with our much-loved David Attenborough narrating makes it a must-see in my eyes.
You can find out more and book tickets over on the BBC Earth Experience Website here.
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