1/17/09

The Viking Ride

video

The city of York, England is a who's who of empires: Constantine made it his HQ in the 300's, The Saxons moved in after the fall, followed by the Anglos, and from the 14 to 17th centuries, all of England was ruled from here.

For a short time, 866 to 944 AD, even some asshole Vikings raided the place, killed everybody, and made their nest in York. Thank heavens, because a Viking village was excavated in 1979. What to do with it? Build a ride!

The Jorvik Viking Centre opened soon after, in 1984. Its centerpiece is this extremely lame ride, which cost five million pounds to build. It's so bad, it's almost transcendent. The cars are suspended from above, like Disney's "Peter Pan" ride, enabling you to soar over the village without any tracks on the ground to break up the illusion. There are practically no animatronics; it's almost all static figures. Speakers, built into the cars, provide content-free narration: "oh dear - it appears this latrine is occupied!" as you slowly move past a figure squinting and straining while crouched over a hole in the ground. Lovely.

Which reminds me: the smell. A selling point in the ads is the claim that the ride is 'scented'. Their slogan should be: "Jorvik Viking Centre! Smell It!" Sure enough, it really smells. Ever drive past a pig farm in summer, with the windows down? It's that kind of smell. You might contract diptheria merely from inhaling.

At the end of the ride just before you dismount, the narration concludes, "and now we're back in the eighties..." they didn't even bother to update the soundtrack at any point in the last 25 years! And there's a line to get into this place!

The rest of the 'museum' is a joke: a few hundred square feet of artifacts, some pepper's-ghost exhibit tricks, a couple of sorry souls dressed like vikings telling you how miserable their lives are in the 900's. Is it worth eight pounds admission? That depends on the type of person you are. I would say definitely yes, but it gets mostly poor reviews on tripadvisor.com. At the very least, the experience is authentic in that you get robbed of your money. What else do you expect from vikings?

There may or may not have been a "no cameras" sign at the ride's entrance (there's a reason I didn't upload this video to youtube). The footage I shot is truly horrendous. It was dark in there, and I was bein' real sneaky. But that will not deter me from making a movie of it! By Odin's Beard, I shall get my eight pounds' worth and share this attraction with my fellow chimps! So I load it into imovie, slow it down, mess with the contrast... good enough. You're hearing the real soundtrack, pitch-shifted with added reverb. That horrible squealing sound is the mechanics of the ride itself.

For the final coup de grace, the gift shop had scratch n' sniff postcards of the latrine scene. Wow.

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