Merlin Entertainments to offer 'talking' donkey rides on the South Bank

Attraction operator Merlin Entertainments will be offering donkey rides with a difference on London's South Bank next week (26-28 July).

The donkeys have travelled from their native Blackpool to London
The donkeys have travelled from their native Blackpool to London

The group behind popular attractions including the Coca-Cola London Eye, the London Dungeon, and Sea Life London Aquarium, has commissioned donkey expert Mark Ineson, along with science boffins at Design Works, to create a piece of technology that interprets the unique sounds, frequencies and vibrations of each donkey’s "ee-aww", triggering one of several pre-determined phrases.

The donkeys – Carl, Sally, Danny and Sony – have travelled from their native Blackpool and are currently in training for their London debut next week when they will be giving free rides for children between the ages of two and 15 in Jubilee Gardens from 11am to 4.30pm.

Hywel Mathias, cluster director for London Attractions at Merlin Entertainments, said: "At Merlin, our ultimate goal is to create truly ‘eye-popping’ moments for children, helping to keep families entertained all day long.

"The South Bank is the perfect place for a day out, with four Merlin attractions within walking distance of each other. Our talking donkeys will provide an extra sprinkle of magic this summer, creating amazing memories for parents and children."

Sean Miles, head of production at Design Works, commented: "We’ve been asked for all sorts of crazy contraptions over the years but getting donkeys to talk was a whole new challenge for us! While the technology that identifies sound as a trigger was relatively achievable, figuring out the animals’ emotions was much harder.

"For this part we were able to work with Mark, who is something of a donkey-whisperer, to get a gauge on the animals’ emotional responses and ultimately create a piece of technology that is very intuitive to what the donkeys are communicating."

Merlin attraction Madame Tussauds hosted a brand-packed LFW event back in February.

Mustard brand Maille will host a French-themed feast on the South Bank next week.

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For more activations and experiential campaigns in London, download our latest report, London's Experiential Playground.

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