- Favourite Ride
- Helix, Liseberg
Rowe said:After several years of elusively missing out on Warwick Castle, I'm surprised to find that I'm having a lovely time with Dave in summery weather. The Undercroft carvery for lunch was particularly gorgeous, roughly £10 for said carvery with a dessert and a drink of choice.
The merchandising, inability to locate a car park (we spent half an hour looking for one in confusing Warwick!) and busy nature of today are the only downsides so far.
We're about to do Castle Dungeon next, sadly no time for the Trebuchet but heh, tomorrow we'll be doing what we're missing today! (So there is a point in visiting twice!)
I should point out for the benefit of anyone that's never visited that although we've decided to go back and finish it tomorrow, I'd certainly consider Warwick Castle to be a one day attraction. Had we arrived at the start of the day we'd have got around everything. As it was I got to Rowe's new place late, she was running late, and then due to a diversion and the useless signposting for the car parks we managed to get sort of lost and not arrive until 12 o'clock. The place was also fairly busy, so on the ramparts walk for example we were having to wait for crowds of very slow people to navigate the nasty spiral staircases.
I've enjoyed today, but I'm not sure what to make of the castle. As an attraction it's a strange mixture of old Tussauds-style walkthroughs, a modern Merlin midway very similar to its London counterpart and an opportunity to walk around the massive masonry of a castle, all garnished with typical Merlin features (food offerings, merchandise etc.).
Kingmaker, the state rooms and the Royal Weekend Party ("Marvellous fellow. Oh, and I had an affair with him once, but that's a secret!") were surprisingly open. I was expecting a lot more rope keeping you away from waxworks and pieces of ornate furniture. It was a shame a few places were looking a bit worse for wear; the red room's ceiling seemed to be peeling a bit, but I can appreciate that repairing that sort of thing must be both difficult and hideously expensive.
The Castle Dungeon's layout was very similar to the London Dungeon which I've experienced twice, so there weren't too many surprises. However, the actors were fantastic and Witches of Warwick had me sat there feeling more worked up by the second! My only criticism of the experience was that we spent a bit too long in the Labyrinth of Lost Souls; everybody was just stood around for about five minutes after realising that there was no way out yet. All in all I wouldn't have paid £9.00 for it even if it had been more different to the other Dungeons, but I'd certainly recommend that premium passholders try it.
There was less stuff I'd usually associate with visiting castles to explore than I'd expected. That probably comes down to the way in which the castle has been used and altered over the centuries. As the rooms for example were repeatedly modernised for so long you still feel like you're getting a glimpse of the past, but not as distant or focused on defence as you might assume when visiting a castle. The walk through the towers and ramparts is worth doing, but it's hard work and could be downright dangerous on the wrong day; all the more reason to visit in nice weather I guess.
Finally, the Merlin-ness of the place. It's everywhere when you know what you're looking for. With regards to merch there's no way I'm going to stump up for the same stuff the theme parks sell with a different logo on it. I'm pleased to report though that despite what I've heard about upselling at Warwick, the staff I dealt with today were all very pleasant and didn't attempt to upsell.
Food is a similarly typical of Merlin fare elsewhere, but that proved to be a good thing. The Undercroft restaurant does an amazing carvery much like that offered by Duplo Family Restaurant at Legoland last year and as part of the buffet this year. I opted for a mixture of the two meats on offer (beef and some sort of gammon/bacon), and it's possibly the best meal I've had at a Merlin attraction. It was huge, ridiculously tasty and easily worth the £10 or so it cost with dessert (a nice if slightly cinnamon-heavy apple pie).
The trebuchet was the main draw and we missed that due to our Dungeon timeslot, so I'm looking forward to seeing that do its thing tomorrow and finishing off the other stuff (Mill & Engine House, Dragon Tower). After that I suspect I won't be back for a year or two as it's a bit of a 'done that now' place. I question whether I'd recommend it to non-passholders; I haven't paid the gate prices any attention, but I suspect they're a bit steep. However, if you've got a pass and haven't been before it's worth going along once.