My borrowed 13-year-old, Jim, blew pounds 1,300,000 with the help of a "credit card" in the Money Zone. "We have a lot of people asking if they can load the money onto their personal credit cards," said the Zone's greeter, wearily. "Where do they think they are? On some cruddy television game show?" The answer to that is, of course, yes. For all the dome's avowed ambitions to tackle Life's Great Questions - "to educate, to inspire and to inform" - it works most smoothly when indulging our sillier desires: the universal longing to watch yourself clowning about on television, or to save a goal aimed at you by a celebrity footballer. We left the dome none the wiser. However, we all wanted to go back.
Did we - thank heavens, not out of our taxes - really spend pounds 750 million on this? Okay, it's very, very big and from outside looks like an upturned porridge bowl with curious custard yellow sticks poking out. But what is it actually for? Is it just so that everyone can have fun with its video games in a once-derelict part of London, drench their nostrils in the smell of fast-food outlets, and say: `Goodness me, it really is big!' Overblown, intellectually feeble celebrations of banality, of feel-goodism, of soggy-minded New-Agery, full of empty words like "new", "community", "inclusiveness", seem to be the theme.
I've visited many hands-on science museums around the world, and the dome compares well with the best of them. Teachers will love it because it gives children just enough information to grab their attention. I'm sorry to be negative, but it's just not as fun as it could be. I was expecting more rides and humorous attractions. It's a good science museum, but it's no Disneyland. I regret taking my two-year old. I wouldn't advise anyone to bring a child under the age of five. There was nothing to grab his attention, and he was restless until he fell asleep.
The Sun joined in the celebrations by taking along two families called Dome. Their verdict was "It's the greatest show on earth." It will be an incredible hit with Britain's children. Four-year-old Anthony Dome was mesmerised by the bank of flashing lights greeting visitors to the play zone and said "Wow! This is really cool."
It was, as the dome's marketing mantra says, one amazing day. The sky could not have been bluer, for once the Jubilee Line's computers worked and there were even roses in December. But the 14,000 very cold people who left the Dome last night were split. Jason Boal, a builder said "It's too arty, I don't get it - it actually makes me angry." However, John Murphy, an engineer, found it "fantastic." Older teenagers thought the dome would be best used for a rave.
The whole experience is a cross between a circus, a trade fair and an amusement arcade. If you're looking for anything more sublime you risk disappointment. But if you leave in the dark, like I did, you witness a dramatically lit scene. And it was with affection, on the super new Jubilee line, that I clutched my new dome ties.
(Annabel Freyberg)Reuse content