Review: Fairy Tales Exhibition at Discover Children's Story Centre, Stratford, London

(AD - Gifted) Discover Story Centre in Stratford, East London is a brilliant place to visit with children aged between 0 and 8. We have been visiting for years and I love how it encourages the imagination of children. There is a brilliant outdoor playground and two Story Lands to explore, but our favourite part is the immersive exhibition on the ground floor. We were invited to visit their new Fairy Tales exhibit and we loved it. You might also read my review of Discover's current 2022 exhibit and their latest improvements.

2 children posing either side of a window display for Fairy Tales with the children's story centre  written in neon lights above it
Ready to review Fairy Tales at Discover

Review of Fairy Tales Immersive Exhibit at Discover Children's Story Centre

The special exhibit designed by Discover with David Litchfield and Ross Montgomery is running until January 2021 and costs a small amount in addition to the normal entry fee. You need to book a time slot in advance and they get particularly booked up around holidays so book early to avoid disappointment.

Shortly before your time slot you go down to the ground floor (there is a lift or stairs) and wait on the fake grass area outside the Three Bears B&B. There are some books to read while you wait if you are there a little early.

When it's time everyone on your time slot are welcomed into the Three Bears B&B where the scene is set and a story told (in our case a version of Little Red Riding Hood, although I think they tell other stories too). Then you are invited to explore Fairy Tale Land. 

The sessions are short (45 minutes), but there is so much to do for children of all ages. It is recommended for under 8s and I tested this out by visiting with a 1 year old, 4 year old and 8 year old. There really is something for everyone in Fairy Tale land including:
  • Enjoying a sensory experience of a glitter ball, smoke machine and musical instruments in The Castle Club. 
  • Reading a news story in the newsroom.
  • Inviting fairy tale residents to the Annual Disco Ball (you can even borrow a bag from the Hare Mail Post Office to post the invitations).
  • Helping out at the Oven Door Cafe.
  • Searching for all the golden coins and returning them to the treasure chest.
  • Dressing up in clothes from the Emperors new clothes shop.
  • Visiting Huff & Puff Builders to build a wall.
  • Finding all of the Gingerbread Gang who ran off with items from the B&B.

It really is amazing to explore and there is so much attention to detail. There is even a phone line connected between the B&B and Grandma’s caravan! Fairy Tale Land includes influences from pretty much every fairy tale you can think of and some new ones. There is a bean stalk, pumpkins, a golden egg, a dragon, a giant's footprint and references to Rumpelstiltskin, The Little Mermaid, 3 Little Pigs, the Billy Goats Gruff and so many more. I think you could visit several times and discover new things each time.

2 children next to a bridge over a painted river, they are moving toy animal goats
Looking at the billy goats on the bridge

The bottom of a velvet beanstalk is visible next door to a caravan. A child is carrying 2 artificial pumpkins into the caravan
Taking pumpkins to Grandma's Caravan

A child pointing at a cut out of a gingerbread man from the gingerbread gang
Found! One of the Gingerbread Gang

A play kitchen with lots of play food and a child peering out a serving hatch
Inside The Oven Door Cafe (owned by Hansel and Gretel)

Hobby horses and musical instruments on racks next to a sign saying The Castle Club Gig Listings
Park your horse and grab an instrument at The Castle Club

The inside of Grandma's Caravan at the Fairy Tales Exhibition at Discover Stratford has a bed, in which is my eldest daughter pretending to sleep
Who is sleeping in Grandma's bed? And who is that out the window?

A girl looking at the phone in Grandma's caravan at Discover's new immersive exhibition
Who is on the phone?

A child on a computer game in front of a rack of dressing up clothes
A chance to dress up or play games in the Emperor's New Clothes Shop

A pile of pretend hay bricks in a dark room with a wall of bricks
Build with straw or brick at the Huff & Puff Builders

What Else Is There To Do At Discover Children's Story Centre?

Before and after your Fairy Tales session there is plenty to do. The standard entrance price to Discover gives you access to the 2 Story Worlds and the outside Story Garden (a play area with instruments and other activities). There are school visits in term time, but there should always be access to enough to explore. Since my last visit to Discover they have made a few improvements to the upstairs Story World so as well as the slide (always popular) there is more to explore and do. 

Discover is great for children who are easily inspired to go on adventures and my children will happily play there all day. For children that need more of a guided activity you will need to get more involved in helping them explore, read books, draw or make a spoon for the spoon forest. 

As well as the main immersive Fairy Tales exhibit there are story telling sessions (aimed at 0-3s) which can be booked into and occasional events, normally in school holidays. These should be booked in advance to ensure you get a session and may be charged extra.

It is worth noting if you haven’t been to Discover before that you can’t take pushchairs in. They have an (unattended) cloakroom where you can leave pushchairs and scooters as well as some lockers which are great for leaving your coats and heavy bags in. If you have a baby, a carrier is a must to help you explore with older children.

There is a lovely cafe on the second floor or you are welcome to eat your own food on the picnic tables outside.

You can find Discover Children's Story Centre at 383-387 High Street in Stratford, East London, E15 4QZ.

I wrote a full review of Discover in an earlier post and I have also reviewed the previous immersive exhibitions which included Dr Seuss, Julia Donaldson's Gruffalo and other stories and The Tiger That Came To Tea & Mog The Forgetful Cat.

***Disclosure: We were invited to Discover to preview the new exhibition which opened on 15th February. I have previously been a member and paid to visit the venue.***

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