Return of the Vikings – Jorvik Viking Centre, York

So a trip to meet the Vikings at the Yorvik Viking Centre in the middle of York. Although built on the site where the 5 year excavation took place in the 1970s and 80s, it is actually in the middle of the Coppergate Shopping Centre!

The best car park is Picadilly Street, this has disabled parking spaces close to a lift on the 1st floor, and parking is free with a blue badge. The lift exits into the main square of the shopping centre, where we were greeted by a long queue snaking it’s way around the square, complete with Yorkshire rain to add to the experience!

However having read the accessibility guide on the Viking Centre website first, I knew we could approach a member of Viking-clothed staff and skip the queue into the fast track aisle.

This was fantastic, as we think people were probably queueing for up to an hour, even when pre-booking tickets. We only waited 5 minutes or so before being guided to the admissions desk. It’s a level walk and the doors are always open.

Carers can gain free entry with a disabled visitor, so the cost for the 4 of us was £27. The staff outside the centre, at the desk and throughout the centre were very friendly and helpful.

The modern glass lift is next to the admissions desk, and takes you directly down to the first exhibition hall. This is pretty impressive as the ruins have been recreated underneath a glass floor, so you can walk around and get a real feel for them. It is quite disorientating, particularly if you have a wobbly balance problem, but is completely level! It is also quite dark so care is needed when moving around.

There is a ramp down to the ride experience, access to the car is slightly tricky but Emily was not phased! There is an upper and lower level to each car, the upper level is reached by 2 metal steps (see pic) and the lower level by one slightly raised step. Emily needed a lot of help getting in and out as it wobbles quite a lot whilst everyone is getting in or out, but once inside the car the bar is closed and it feels very safe. Everyone has their own iPad in front of them with information and there is a kids version.

The ride experience is excellent, I won’t say too much and spoil it! The sights, sounds and even smells are very realistic; and the animatronic people and animals are very realistic. Slight surprise when one of the Vikings on a boat turned and spoke to us – a friendly member of staff scaring the customers!

The exhibitions following the ride experience are all on one level and there is quite a lot to see and learn about. We actually went back on the ride experience as they had really enjoyed it.

The gift shop can be accessed via steps from the exhibitions, or you can return to the admission desk in the lift and walk round at street level to the shop.  An enjoyable hour or 2 can be spent here but if you’re not eligible for free fast tracking, I would advise paying a bit extra and avoiding the snaking queue!

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