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How Roald Dahl has taken over London’s Southbank

The Source takes a trip to The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl exhibition.

Nestled within the Southbank Centre, there is something rather ‘gloriumptious’ taking place.

Part of the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl is an interactive experience aimed at seven to 12 year olds.

The 55-minute immersive, sensory experience takes children – and adults in my case – on a journey through Roald Dahl’s ideas and the development of his stories and characters.

The experience has taken inspiration from Roald’s advice to young writers, which was to make children laugh out loud, squirm, scream and be enthralled. Also key were his ambitions to inspire children to create their own stories.

And it’s certainly worked – the journey is led by Southbank Centre Visitor Experience hosts (ours was superb) and is accompanied by a narrative written by children’s author Laura Dockrill, which is voiced by actor Peter Serafinowicz.

9.6 Wondercrump (credit Victor Frankowski)

As you might expect, being Roald Dahl this is no traditional museum experience.

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre has loaned significant manuscripts and items for The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl. Throughout the experience, these archive objects are presented in creative formats to bring the pieces to life and create new ways for children to engage with the author and his stories.

It is broken down into seven rooms, all providing insight into Roald Dahl’s background and creative process.

3 Wondercrump (Credit Victor Frankowski)

Without wanting to give away too much, rooms recreated include a 1930’s classroom filled with school reports and letters – including one in which Roald describes the origin of the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Apparently, it came from an experience he had as a 13 year old school pupil being asked to blind taste chocolate bars and send back recommendations to the manufacturer. He later came to believe the manufacturer to be Cadbury.

Visitors are also taken through Roald’s experiences in The RAF, through a dark forest – where you find out more about Danny the Champion of the World, Fantastic Mr Fox and James and the Giant Peach – and into ‘The Attic’, where you can view Roald’s size 13 sandal which he sent to Quentin Blake and used for the inspiration for The BFG’s footwear.

9.2 Wondercrump (Credit Victor Frankowski)

The tour culminates in the Inventing Room, where children are encouraged to make up their own sentences from a stack of weird and wonderful words, among other activities.

The Whoopee Cushion Wall was a particular favourite among our group.

While fans of Roald will no doubt be delighted by the experience, no prior knowledge of his characters or books is required to enjoy The Wondercrump World. The experience has been uniquely designed to be void of exhibition text or graphics, so that all children can engage with Roald Dahl and discover their inner storyteller.

This big kid recommends you take a trip to Roald’s World as soon as you can.

The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl is on display at the Southbank Centre until July 3. It will then travel to Wales Millennium Centre for the second half of the year.

Photo credit: Victor Frankowski

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