I’m going to start with this one, just because it is the only place we have been which is on a bit of a time limit as it closes on September 3rd this year. Please bare in mind this is being written by someone who cannot stand Star wars, can name all of three characters from the films and has all in all, watched about 45 minutes of the films…in 5 minute stints, whilst falling asleep. I did however book the tickets as I have a Star Wars-loving partner and 8 year old stepson, and to be honest (but don’t tell anyone), I am actually really glad I went.
I bought the tickets in advance from the official website ( http://www.starwarsidentities.com/ ) and due to school commitments had to go on a weekend, so tickets were peak price. We saved money by buying a family ticket for £60, saving £20 off the standard cost (Adults £25, Children £15 and kids under 5 go free) but in hindsight, I would definitely suggest going at a non-peak time and save £5 per ticket or get a family ticket for £48. Peak times (the Saturday afternoon we went) we found it to be really busy so going during the week will probably mean you get to see more and pay less. Tickets are print at home which makes things a lot easier and you can choose from a variety of entry slots throughout the day. I would highly suggest you go as early as you can however, as being the O2 Arena, there does tend to be events on in the evening so the O2 fills up fast making it quite crowded when you come out of the exhibition. If you’re not overly bothered about the crowds though, the exhibition is open until 8pm so you have plenty of time to nose around.
Before we went to the exhibition, we popped over to the Sky experience where there’s a few things to do for the kids and everything they take part in is saved to your login so you keep the photos and videos for later. Everything is free and definitely worth looking at, it was 30-45 minutes worth of fun and everyone enjoyed it.
We chose our slot for 3pm and went as a group of 7 (including kids aged 10, 8, 6 and 3). We did have to queue for a little while to get in but nothing major and there is some Star Wars wall art to be looking at while you wait. We found overall, the process was quite organised but there just happened to be quite a few people in our allocated time slot. As you enter the exhibition, you are given an earpiece which clips to your ear, to listen to the guided tour as you walk around and a rubber bracelet you can scan in each room to create a Star Wars personality all of your own. This was definitely the kids’ favourite part of the day, and even us adults had quite a laugh creating our characters. It does however mean that every room you go in, you have to queue up to use the personality machines and scan your wristband which does become quite time consuming and after a while, the kids did get a bit restless.
For Star Wars fanatics, there is LOADS to look at, listen to and marvel over. Even for someone who doesn’t particularly like Star Wars, I found a lot of it to be really interesting, and seeing all the props from the film and how they were made actually passed the time quite quickly. Our three year old daughter loved looking at the various characters and scanning her wristband, but did lose interest about an hour in and needed the toilet (which there aren’t any so make sure you go before you go in!). The older kids could obviously read a bit more and recognised a bit more so they really enjoyed it, we spent 2 and a half hours in there altogether.
I am really glad we went, especially as it was for Isaac’s birthday and he absolutely loved it but I wouldn’t take kids under 5 in the future. Mike found that he didn’t get to see and read as much as he wanted to because of the kids getting restless and is planning an adults-only trip back again in the Summer, so he must have liked it! There is a big souvenir shop at the end where you can buy exhibition-exclusive merchandise, but make sure you take all your savings with you and maybe take a second mortgage out as the souvenirs aren’t particularly cheap. We paid £25 for a t-shirt for Isaac for his birthday when you can get any other standard Star wars t-shirts for a child in various other shops, for less than half the price.
I think it’s a must see for anyone with Star Wars fans while it is in the area and you definitely get your money’s worth as there are various different rooms and literally everything Star Wars-related you could possibly hope to see. We went in January and all the kids still talk about it now. However, I do think you’ll only need to take the kids once and that way you can make a day of it, and don’t need to return.