Experiencing the park through sound and touch…
An experience from Aaron Danvers-Jukes.
“I am a totally blind person who loves theatre and theme parks. Over the years I’ve become more appreciative of more theatrical elements, such as costumes and different materials. I have always enjoyed the various soundscapes at Blackgang Chine, and looked forward to finding out what had changed, what had stayed the same, and also what the Land of imagination live would bring.”
We got to Blackgang Chine just as the first fairy show was finishing as I could hear someone singing Come Alive from The Greatest Showman. With that, we headed into reception, past the dragon and as we went past, he activated, roaring! After the roar, my dad explained where the dragon was and guided me to him. I did very briefly end up touching him very gently and I promise it was gentle, as my dad explained that’s where it was. I think it might have been his head, or part of him poking over the top but he had reset himself before my dad showed me where he was.
I remember the previous dragon’s roar and can even do an impression of him; the audio has changed now though. I was almost tempted to try “saying hello” to the dragon and seeing if he might roar back if I timed it right, but we were in a hurry to get into the park!
Once we were out of reception, we started heading towards Restricted Area 5 as that’s where one of the children wanted to go. Is it just me, or is there even more new audio than when the area first opened?
Of course, it’s not possible to touch these dinosaurs due to the way the animatronics work, and that’s okay as they are in their permanent enclosures, and it wouldn’t really be fair if people kept touching them.
I next had the chance to touch the non-animatronic dinosaurs, and they felt kind of familiar.
We saw the dinosaur eggs as well, interestingly the dinosaur felt kind of rubbery, the big egg felt, well… big! I didn’t speculate on the material, sort of plastic-y or at least, it was a hard material, but for me, I just loved its shape!
I think Dodo valley was next. Loved the area. It’s interesting how when you walk over the wobbly bridge with netting, you can hear the DJ dodos singing their version of Staying Alive. That’s a really clever placement, I love it. The bridge wasn’t there when I went with my carer last time, you just walked round into the valley. I think that was around 2013 or 14. So now, there is a sort of tactile and funny elements to it especially when you stepped down into the valley, I love this new element to it.
I think the pirate ship was next. Water cannons! I loved it, and the new audio.Then, we caught the 1:30 pm Fairy Show. I sat on the floor for it as I was near the younger members of the family who were joining from the mainland, and I must say, the floor was an interesting place to sit because of all the vibration! It was also fun! I was singing along to Come Alive. Waltz of The Flowers is also a nice touch.
We then had the chance to meet the fairies. We met the Fairy Queen, Fairy Spring, and Fairy Summer. I got to touch some parts of the costumes, but as there was a bigger queue, I didn’t get to learn about all of them, but that’s OK.
Fairy Queen was a surprise because I didn’t know that she would have silky gloves and she also seemed familiar in the way that she acted towards me. It turns out, I had met her in a younger form of her fairy self. This was an absolute highlight as I hadn’t heard from this fairy in years!
Next up, it was Cowboy Town. My mum sat on the bench whilst my dad and other members of the family went to grab us lunch. Luckily, we were sat near the speakers that were playing scene setting music when Duelling Banjos came on, I tapped my feet! It was then I heard an American accent, turns out there was a character roaming about the park. My family told me we’d see him after lunch. So, burger it was. Nice food. No complaints.
Then, time to go to the panning for gold, I must admit, we didn’t pan. I just wanted to chat to the cowboy character. I enjoyed his accent and we did a bit of cowboy talking together as I’m also from a theatre group, so when he chatted to me with an accent, I chatted right back! My dad said “let’s go shoot up the town”, I replied “nope, nope don’t go makin’ me shootin’ up the town” the panning Cowboy threatened “don’t you go makin’ me tell the Sheriff”.
We discussed how great it was good being back at Blackgang Chine after many months. When I mentioned fairies, the Cowboy said, “oh you mean the floaty people? Oh nice!” He loved how they recognised me. I love that little touch, it’s really immersive how he didn’t acknowledge them as fairies, keeping the Cowboy Town and Fairy experience very separate.
Next up, Pet Shop and Rumpus Mansion! I figured out that the baby shark was on a different timer and cleverly stops all other buttons. Also, thank you so much for fixing Tasmanian Devil, that reunion was so epic for me because he’s always been my favourite and he hasn’t been talking for years!
Rumpus was fantastic! There seems to be some new audio. What I love, is even though there’s some different audio, it still sounds like Rumpus. For instance, the Donkey Mirror now speaks its rhyme, that adds to the Rumpus Story! I have to add my favourite, the finale scene, “ready to greet, with a cackling laugh, any who stray, within her path!”, a classic line.
We did Underwater Kingdom as well, love how the music in that area changes as you walk through.
Lastly, the rides, and the hall of mirrors and the landslide simulator. I haven’t done the water force slide in ages, so it was an interesting experience for me. Cliffhanger was also awesome. Hall of Mirrors, whilst visual, is still a fun experience as my dad was describing them all to me.
Before I go, I’d also like to mention… the Crooked House! I love how there is now a storyline, all audio related! This makes it so much worthwhile for a blind person now. It was a lovely surprise! Then, for the finale, it was the mouth of the whale. My Dad put me under one of the water squirters, so it got me right in the back! This made me laugh my head off!
Overall, an utterly, wonderful, magical and fantastic day at the Land of Imagination and Britain’s Oldest Theme Park. Thank you all so much!