Wake the Tiger opened in Bristol in the summer of 2022 with a lot of cryptic marketing. Billing itself as an amazement park, it wasn’t really too clear what to expect from a trip to see it. We eventually booked tickets for the beginning of January by which point a few people we knew had been and reported back that the experience was worth it. Part immersive art exhibition, part theatre, part playground, it’s quite difficult to describe so I can see why they decided on the term ‘amazement park’.
You book a timed ticket and the first part of the experience will be in a group as you get a bit of background to the world you are about to enter from some of the actors. After this point you’re on your own and the crowd actually dispersed a lot quicker than I expected it might, so don’t worry if it feels quite busy when you arrive. The premise is that a new luxury development is being built, but the construction gets halted as the workers are unable to remove an ancient tree. The tree is a portal and you (literally) step through it in order to reach a parallel world on the other side.
I won’t lie, I actually wasn’t too sure about it all to begin with. Described by my husband as ‘baby sensory for adults’, there are a lot of different sounds, colours and lighting, things to touch and look at and it all felt a little bit overwhelming initially. Although it’s basically a huge space for you to explore at your own pace, I wasn’t too sure about going off the main path through a hidden door (what if we were going the wrong way or missed something?!) but this is exactly what you are meant to do!
It’s basically like walking around a huge interactive art exhibit which also doubles up as a film set. The scenery that’s been produced is fantastic, and it definitely feels immersive. It’s worth exploring every nook and cranny, but if you do feel like you’ve missed something then you get an opportunity to go back and explore again right at the end (which we did!). I particularly loved the area which had been designed to be a bit like a forest, with huge glowing plants. My other highlight was the hidden library which is accessed through a bookcase (something I would love to have at home!).
It was a fun afternoon and although it took me a little while to settle into it, when I came out of the other side it was a little bit like having been in a dream. It felt quite surreal to then get in the car and drive home! If you’re going with someone or as part of a group then I’d recommend comparing notes afterwards – it’s interesting to see which bits captured different people’s attention, and the different details that people notice.
There’s a shop at the end so you can get something to remember your experience (there’s also a choice when you buy your tickets to get a souvenir guide which we did – but don’t flick through it before you go in or it’ll spoil some of the surprises). There’s also a café/bar which serves a mixture of food and drink. We didn’t buy anything as it was quite busy, but it’s also been decorated in a fun-style and could be a good place to stay and dissect the experience afterwards.
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do for something like a birthday or you’ve got visitors coming to visit and want something unusual to take them to then it’s definitely worth doing. I also think it’s a good thing to go to with children – the children that were there at the same time as us all seemed to be having a great time and loved all the interactive elements. Would I rush back? Probably not. If there was a different version, or a lot was adapted or added then I’d be tempted to, but I’m not sure I’d go back to the same one unless there was someone I was particularly keen to show it to. I think it was very well designed, but possibly best kept as a one-off experience.