Jorvik Viking Centre York – Review – It’s been many years since I have been to the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. In fact I think it was just after it opened and I went on a school trip. Last year it reopened after a major refit due to the floods of Christmas 2015 (we got stuck in Stamford Bridge and missed Boxing Day dinner in York – I remember it well!). You can really tell it has had a refurb as it’s very swish and modern now, utilising some pretty cracking technology to help tell the story of York’s Viking past.
But to start at the beginning and with some practicalities. You can book ahead on the website and I must say you should absolutely do this. Otherwise the queue to get in is pretty sizeable and no-one likes to queue! If you pay ahead you join the fast track queue (but it was short!)
Once in, you go down some steps (there’s a lift too), to the ride antechamber. Here you will walk on a glass floor that is covering the site of a Viking dwelling. You can see the doors into the building and where the fire pit and loo were, as well as what the occupants did for a living (making tools and dying fabric for export). It’s a fascinating insight to life a thousand years ago.
In this room you can watch videos about the original Coppergate dig in the 70s (and yes I remember it!). You can also handle Viking artifacts and try your hand at excavation and preservation (virtually at least). There is also a guide who will give a talk to the whole room about what you can see beneath the glass.
Jorvik Viking Centre York Review
Once you have seen everything there is to be seen in this room, you can board the ride. Don’t let the kids rush you out of this room though as there are lots of interesting things to see.
Then it is onto the main part of the attraction – the ride itself. This is where you can really see how much more modern the attraction is. Each car seats up to six with a small screen in the dashboard in front of every rider. You can choose which language is displayed to go along with the commentary.
The ride is very smooth and slowly takes you back in time to York’s own Viking past. It reminded us of Spaceship Earth in Epcot, Walt Disney World (I know this will only make sense if you have been there of course!).
The ride takes you around the Viking settlement explaining what would be happening and where. There are some fabulous realistic animatronic people that are a far cry from the waxworks of my first visit. Watch for the baby – eerily realistic! There is also great use of screens and projectors too.
The main thing that most people remember from their visit to Jorvik are the smells! The smells replicate what the settlement would have smelled like. I don’t think it was as pungent as it used to be. I think a bit smellier would have been better (which isn’t something I would normally advocate!)
Once you alight from your ride, you enter another room, filled with Viking artefacts and information about them. We spent a while in here before climbing back up to street level and the gift shop.
It really is a must see place for your trip to York. In all the experience lasts an hour, to an hour and a half. It’s educational and entertaining at the same time. Plus, the kids will remember that it was smelly!
Jorvik Viking Centre invited us to review, but as ever all the opinions expressed are my own.