This weekend, we were invited to The Tower of London Vaults; located adjacent to The Tower of London, to take part in a new immersive experience currently at The Tower Vaults; The Gunpowder Plot.
The Gunpowder Plot follows the story of Guy Fawkes and takes you back in time, as it was in 1605. As soon as the story unfolds, you’re thrown into the world the plotters inhabited. Immersed in an unforgettable, full 360 environment that is full of excitement and adventure.
You’re not just watching it, you’re a part of it.
Arriving at The Tower of London, The Vaults are located opposite the main tower on the right as you descend towards the river. The location is perfect because, as history dictates, the vaults sit beneath the infamous Tower Hill where much of the preparation to the Gunpowder Plot took place.
For our visit, we were offered The Gunpowder Plot’s VIP package which includes the following:
- A meal and house drink.
- A themed cocktail during interval.
- A souvenir printed photograph.
- One item of merchandise (up to the value of £10).
- Reserved VIP area in the main bar after the show.
Once we arrived and checked in, we were invited to put our bags in one of their secure lockers located on site. These are secured via proximity cards and are free of charge (no bags are allowed during the experience). We were then taken to the restaurant area to wait for the experience to begin.
As you descend into the vaults, you will experience a groundbreaking combination of live action, virtual reality, and cutting edge technology including motion simulators, physical sensations and stunning special effects.The Gunpowder Plot.
From the moment you enter the building, every part of your experience is carefully thought out. From cleverly coloured plaques that indicate that your experience is about to begin to themed food and drink. It’s advised that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your experience is about to begin. This allows you to go to the toilet and place any items in a locker. But, if you want to arrive earlier, you’re welcome to; there’s lots of seating room across the two floors.
In no time, our experience was about to begin and we were taken to a “holding area” where a guide took us through a history lesson as well as some instructions for the VR Headsets. This took a few minutes and got our juices flowing for what was about to happen. We were then taken into another room where the story began.
As you journey through, there’s no one guiding you other than the actor you’re sharing the room with at the time. There is some encouragement to speak to the characters at certain points, but if you don’t want to you don’t have to. Some people, for example, were asked to carry (very light!) barrels into the next room (or cell!) and other people (*cough* Sharon *cough*) were asked to carry lanterns.
T got the good bits, like selecting keys, and was clearly the actor’s favourite (!)
We were invited and advised of this, and based on the fact that the boy had only just learnt about Guy Fawkes at school we thought it would be a good experience to take part in. Throughout the story, there is some mild swearing, and some of the lighting is quite dark to offer a full immersive experience. There’s also lots of sound affects and funny smells. For some children this may be quite scary, however none of the actors touch or jump out at you. In fact, on sight of T, a lot of the actors were welcoming and encouraging in nature whilst in his presence.
Whilst there are no trigger warnings as such, The Gunpowder Plot contains themes of swearing, violence, torture, murder, death, terrorism and religious discrimination. A more detailed Access Guide, including information on wheelchair accessible performances, can be found here.
T did find some of the bits unnerving, but this was usually down to a sound affect (for example, a scream that occurred at the start when you’re in one of the cells). It was also quite dark, but by the end he said that he’d had a great time and would want to do it again.
When Virtual meets Reality.
For me, the whole story and how it played out was incredible. Remarkable in fact. The actors are very talented, and you quickly get yourself involved into the experience. I honestly couldn’t believe it when we’d reached the interval. But, the icing on the whole experience was the Virtual Reality. There are three of these points throughout the story, each one offering something different for the senses. On each occasion you’re invited to place a VR headset on before either sitting or standing. The VR headsets will then take onto another part of the story.
Without spoiling too much, they really do take you back in time and it’s an absolutely fantastic experience.
The total run-time for the experience is under 2 hours, including a 20 minute interval. This is where you can enjoy a drink (and a toilet break if you need it!). For us, this went very fast but that’s not to say we were left disappointed – far from it. You simply get so immersed, time runs away from you.
When you finish, you’re taken back to current day and you’re invited to have your picture taken. You’re then back where you started at the restaurant – but not before finding yourself in the gift shop!
Gunpowder, Treason, and really good chips!
After the experience, it was time for some food – we’d certainly built up a hunger! We weren’t able to view the menu before attending, which is often something I like to do before I visit somewhere, but there was no reason to worry once we saw what was on offer.
Available at The Gunpowder Plot is actually quite a large selection of meals; ranging from hot dogs and burgers, to nachos and Pizzas. As well as several Vegan and Vegetarian options, there was also opportunities to make your meal Gluten Free. I genuinely didn’t think we’d have this much choice. Although our ticket included food, we felt the prices were reasonably priced for a London experience. Fries and small sides were £3.00, for example, and the most expensive items on the menu were their Pizzas at £14.50.
The only slight criticism we had was that in terms of meals for kids, there was no “kids option”. This meals that the boy had an adult meal. Thankfully, he was pretty hungry, so he only left part of his bun and some chips, but there could have been more waste if he’d had a bigger breakfast. That being said, we’re taking this opinion based on a 7 year old’s stomach. A 10-12 year old very well may be different.
Aside from that, we were really impressed with the options available as well as the portion sizes. The food, most importantly, was really tasty. I decided to go with their Vegan Burger, the boy went with their Vegan Hot Dog. Both of which come with chips and some form of salad like gherkins, lettuce and relish, or coleslaw. Sharon went with a Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pizza. On the menu were also puddings, but we decided to save the remaining room we had for something later on.
The restaurant itself is perfectly themed, with dim lighting and the faint smell of smoke. It’s really atmospheric and you sort of forget where you are. Staff are also really welcoming and friendly, and the place overall is super clean and tidy, with plenty of room and toilet facilities available.
To conclude, we had an absolutely brilliant time at The Gunpowder Plot and we would absolutely do it again. The show has been so well-written and, unless you know every detail about the story, you leave knowing a lot more. It was really really enjoyable and it’s certainly taken theatre to a whole new level!
Based on our experience, it was really good value for money. We would most certainly recommend people pay The Gunpowder Plot a visit. If the story hasn’t captured you enough, the setting should – just look at that view.
Have you been to The Gunpowder Plot? Let us know what you think (no spoliers!). If you fancy giving The Gunpowder Plot a visit, feel free to ask questions in the comments below.
We were invited to The Gunpowder Plot in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and imagery are our own unless stated.