Geek Syndicate at the VIP Launch of Merlin: The Dragon’s Tower at Warwick Castle

So last night found myself and my girlfriend Sue transported back through the mists of time (via a sixty minute car journey…which was kinda magical I guess) to the VIP  launch of Merlin:The Dragon Tower at Warwick Castle.

In the queue to gain entry to the launch we were all entertained by servants dressed in Merlin style garb. As there were a lot of kids at the event they worked crowd hard (one servant in particular had comedy fake ferret as his sidekick). The kids seem to be enjoying the attention and getting the chance to talk about Merlin.

After registering we headed onto the stunning castle grounds and into a large reception area where there was champagne and orange juice for all the guests. While we waited for our slot to enter the tower I did spot Warwick Davis doing the rounds and chatting to the guests which was cool. We got chatting with the princess of the castle who regaled us with the castle’s history. Still no sign of Anthony Head, Angel Coulby or who were supposed to be attending.

At about 745 a man entered carrying what looked a dead ferret. He was appeared, at first glance, to be a cross between the Herne the Hunter (one for the Robin of Sherwood fans) and a splash of Santa Claus (slightly portly complete with grey hair) who bellowed out that ‘All should attend him as it was time for the 745 group!’
I plucked up the courage,despite fears of suffering the same fate as the ferret, and joined the group to take on the Dragon Tower.

The Merlin servants ,who to their credit never fell out of character once, led us out to the main part of the castle. It was here we came across a fire breathing jester. I thought it cool that while he wowed us with his skill he took the time to stress to the kids the dangers of trying this at home.

During the impressive fire breathing display I noticed that Sue had disappeared. I looked and saw the reason behind the erratic movement, Anthony and Angel had suddenly appeared out of nowhere (I sense Merlin’s hand in this) and were posing for photos. We managed to snatch a few shots before being hustled off to the tower.


We were told on pain of death that no photos could be taken inside the tower. Ok I may have exaggerated that last part but you get my drift.

The tower itself consisted of two parts. The first was where you meet Gaius’ newest assistant. She acts as your guide to the tower and fills you in on the backstory of uther war on magic and the legent of the great dragon that once imprisoned by uther only to be freed by merlin. This was a good move as there were several members of the group who had never seen Merlin. I thought Gaius new assistant was great and she threw herself into her role 110%. I don’t want to give too much away but there was a guest appearance during this section and the choosing of a Dragon Lord from the audience. It was the Dragon Lord’s task in the second section to summon the great dragon himself.

Once we were seated and the Dragon Lord’s  spell performed we were treated to the appearance of a CGI dragon on the screen. The CGI  wasn’t as good as the TV equivalent but it was pretty impressive, none the less, considering Warwick Castle’s budget compared to the TV show. My dissappointment that the dragon’s voice was not that of legendary thespian john hurt faded quickly when I realised that the dragon was interacting directly with crowd. I came to this conclusion when he picked Sue out of the crowd got her to introduce herself, told her to stand and bellowed ‘Sue you have a great power within you’ or something close to that. He then went onto to pick some kids from the audience for a chat. I thought this was fantastic and really helped to bring the whole exhibit to life. What I found even funnier was later on when someone asked Sue if she was a plant by the organisers!

The conclusion of the Dragon’s Tower I won’t give away but I’m guessing this is where a lot of cash went on the exhibit and it was money well spent. It even solicited a few screams from the audience.

The slightly dissappointing thing was when told go forth and meet your destiny you end up at the small reception area where you could pick up our commentative photo. I’m sure only a few of you would pick up the reference but I had a real Mr Benn back in the shop with the shopkeeper feeling.

So that was it for the Dragon’s Tower. Overall I enjoyed the tower and thought it was great fun for merlin fans and kids alike. I did feel it would have been nice if there had been one more room after the dragon…say a merlin exhitbit with props etc from the show but given the layout of the tower I’m not sure where you could put it.

After my adventures in the tower I felt my stomach rumble and as if sensing my plight a smiling servant appeared.

‘Have you eaten yet friend?’ She asked.

To which I wanted to reply. ‘I have ridden far on the king’s business and would have a flagon of your best mead and a leg of meat lest I die of hunger and thirst. Quick now wench and there’s a gold coin for your sevice!’

That piece of authentic Merlin acting, on my part, came out as simply a mumbling…’Er yeah.’

Still in character and unfazed the servant answered. ‘This way friend you will find food and through there’ she paused to point to the great hall beyond. ‘You will find flagons of wine and good company.’

True to her word not only was a Merlin style royal banquet awaiting us complete with long tables, servants etc but they did indeed serve you wine in sliver goblets. Now the goblets were plastic but I didn’t care I was suddenly living the life of knight if only for a night (now trying saying that three times).

As I tucked into my hearty serving of Pork, Rabbit and Lamb I had to resist the urge to leap on the table raise my plastic flagon and bellow ‘For the love Camelot come one, come all for we ride to glory with Prince Arthur and his knights!!!!’ hmm perhaps one flagon too many methinks.

With a full belly, a comely wench on either knee and my sword resting by the fireplace I was content. It was then the court jester appeared to annouce that there was more entertainment out on the grounds. The entertainment he spoke of was a stunning firework display set against the imposing backdrop of Warwick Castle and accompanyied by some rousing tracks from the Merlin musical score.

A spectacular end to a fantastic launch of a great new attraction for Warwick Castle.

Remember it’s not to late to enter our comp to win a Family pass to the show. Head here for all the info!

GS Reporter: Lord Nuge of Northampton

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11 comments

  1. SnazzyO /

    Sounds like a good tour. They should really play up the merchandising with a gift shop! If it’s that “authentic”, I’m sure they could sell a few items.

  2. godannotook /

    Thank you for reporting back – seems like a Night worthy of Noble Knights and young Knight-lings alike 🙂

  3. axel /

    Hi, nice review.. what was the music for the tower like? I love the merlin music

  4. randomperson /

    the merlin exhibit was awful! it was almost $20 for my family of four to go to it, and it was short, boring, and ridiculously over priced! the apprentice just ran around talking about lookin for a potion for sum healing thing, and then chose a drangon lord and led us to a stupid computer dragon that talked to us and then sent us to the picture room! that was it! it was overpriced boring and stupid!!

    • geeksyndicate /

      Sorry you guys didn’t like it. I did feel like it could have done with something more after the Dragon room and definitely some props and stuff from the TV show.

  5. Tis I the Fire breathing Jester, thanks for the kind words there. Nice that you noticed my health & safety/don’t try this at home warning. Amazing what Medieval insurance will have you do ey?

    Nice job on the picture though. Glad you enjoyed.

    • geeksyndicate /

      No worries bud nice work on the firebreathing! I’ll pass on your thanks to my girlfriend as it was her who took the photo.

  6. Chris /

    The advertising at the Castle for this seems misleading the signs around the castle quote £4 each in big numbers, then in small print ex Vat and in the same small print the real price £4.80 per ticket. This didn’t impress me, its not a nice approach, bad idea Warwick Castle.

    You queue for 15 mins to get in.
    – Then a photo (£6 if you want a copy).
    – Then 5 mins of someone talking to you about dragons and a short video Richard Wilson as Gaius.
    – Then 5-10 mins of a Computer Generated Dragon who singles out members of the audience to make comments about, they aren’t rude but they aren’t interesting either. There are a few effects as well, I didn’t find them special.

    You spend more time standing and queuing than you do watching the “entertainment”.

    At £2 per person maybe it would be ok, assuming they could halve the queueing time. Nice idea but for me and my 9 year old son (who is a big fan of the show), sorry this a whopping big miss amd nothing would presuade us to do repeat of this show.

    If you like the show, instead of buying 2 tickets, buy a DVD of the show, it will last longer and provide more entertainment in the first 10 minutes than this attraction.

    The castle itself and the outside entertainment is good, the trebuchet, Warwick Bowman particularly, but the Merlin Experience I wouldn’t bother. If you’re still not convinced, wait until inside the castle and ask a few visitors who have tried it before deciding, perhaps send one of your party as Dragon scout to check it out.

    Chris

  7. Monkian /

    I visited the castle on Monday, and not being a fan of the TV show I was a bit hesitant on paying £15 for my wife, my 6 year old daughter and I to visit the Dragon Tower. My daughter loves Dragons so to keep her quiet we agreed.

    Once inside the attraction and after our photo in the claw, I was pleasantly surprised on how well the lab area was decorated and the at the quality of the actress. Then feeling content we made our way to the Dragon room. All I can say is absolutely amazing. This was the highlight of the day, we have been to Euro Disney and seen the Stitch Live show and the Turtle Talk in Orlando but this really raises the bar with this kind of attraction.

    Jim

  8. JK /

    great review, went in there the on friday. Loved the Dragon’s tower, so good!! who’s the girl in the blue in your photos?

  9. Remarkably well executed read..

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