We visited Jorvik Viking Centre a couple of weeks ago after a visit was arranged by one of the home education groups I’m part of on Facebook. A great thing about life starting to creep towards normality is that we can start visiting places like this again. We’ve really missed getting out and exploring!
Despite York being two hours away from where we live, we decided that we’d drive there and back in a day. I know a lot of people think we’re a bit odd for doing this when we have days out (because they feel the need to tell me). We didn’t feel comfortable with a hotel stay and we’ve done longer journeys in a day anyway! Our plan was to get to York a little early, have a wander around, visit Jorvik, have lunch and another look around and then head home. So, was Jorvik Viking Centre worth visiting with kids?
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Jorvik Viking Centre?
A typical adult ticket to Jorvik will cost you £12.50 and a child ticket is £8.50. For this you have 12 months admission, so you can visit as many times as you like. The website strongly recommends pre-booking, but it’s not essential. If you’re fairly local you can probably risk queuing for tickets, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone travelling a long distance as the queues we saw on the day were pretty long. Each visit is meant to last for approximately an hour.
What Happens During A Visit To Jorvik Viking Centre?
Jorvik is a little different to other museums because you sit on a ride to go around it, whilst listening to audio about what you can see. There are six people allowed on each ride and each person can choose their own audio experience – the narration is available in several languages and there’s a children’s version too. As you move around the centre, various scenes of Viking life are lit up for you to see. The smells are pretty accurate too! There are some incredibly lifelike figures and animals and you really get a feel for how Vikings lived and worked in York.
After moving your way through Viking York, you go into a small gallery. There is a member of staff here demonstrating how to make coins. Whilst this was interesting, it was disappointing that we couldn’t have a go ourselves. Maybe COVID-19 is to blame, maybe not, but I know P would have enjoyed giving it a go!
The rest of the gallery has artefacts to explore, all dug up on the site that Jorvik is situated. Unfortunately, my daughters (who usually enjoy museums) had really lost interest at that point, so we just had a cursory glance at things.
What Was Our Verdict?
Honestly, we weren’t blown away by our visit. It’s really cool that the staff are dressed up and the attention to detail everywhere is amazing. My daughters however, declared the whole thing to be “too dark, creepy and smelly”. Well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time! The figures were so lifelike though and they move too, and they really didn’t like that. It also was pretty dark, with things illuminating as you were meant to look at them. Unfortunately our audio feed wasn’t synced with the timing of this! It was also possible to just about hear my daughter’s audio feed next to me and I found it a little distracting but that’s probably just me.
For my husband and I, the main disappointment lay in the length of the visit. It was meant to be a around an hour, but we were certainly not there that long. We were done in around 45 minutes, including the gift shop. Obviously the experience would have been longer if we’d spent more time in the gallery. I had thought that there would be a mini workshop or a talk though. I’m glad that we visited as part of a group and got cheaper tickets to be honest! A 12-month ticket is good value, but only if you’re going to use it and we wouldn’t go back.
It’s fair to point out that although we weren’t excited by our visit, we haven’t been learning about the Vikings. I booked it to see if it would spark an interest for a future topic. If you’ve been learning about the Vikings or have a real interest, then I think you’d probably enjoy it. Just be prepared for it to be a fairly short experience compared to many museum visits.