Published: 00:01, 22 February 2017
In a deep, dark wood in the deepest of Kent’s Weald is a Gruffalo – and he’s coming to life before your eyes.
The Gruffalo Spotter mixes technology with the real world, encouraging youngsters to get exploring.
The site, set in 2,000 acres of forest, has been home to a Gruffalo sculpture and Gruffalo’s Child, as well as a trail, for some years.
Now the Forestry Commission has linked up with Nexus Studios and Magic Light Pictures for a first – an augmented reality app, bringing the characters of the beloved Julia Donaldson book with illustrations by Axel Scheffler to life.
Designed for exclusive use at the commission’s 26 forests across England, families follow clues and track signs of their favourite characters.
The self-led trail is packed with fun facts about forest animals with activities. Once families have spotted the characters, they can use the app to bring the 3D character animation to life and take photos with them.
The photos are automatically added to the device’s gallery and can be shared on social media. Patrick West, manager at Bedgebury, said: “This is such an exciting development and will deliver a completely different forest experience for our visitors. The Gruffalo is a world renowned story and to be able to bring the characters to life in their natural setting is fantastic.”
Barney Goodland from Magic Light Pictures added: “We’re always looking to further children’s enjoyment of The Gruffalo brand and this was an innovative way to incorporate new technology with a real world experience. Working with the Forestry Commission and Nexus Studios has been a real joy. The app is completely free, which means that it’s there for everyone to enjoy.”
Visitors can buy a Gruffalo Spotters kit on site and includes animal facts, tips for tracking wildlife, an evidence collection bag and a magnifying glass.
The Gruffalo trail is open at Bedgebury on Friday, February 24 and the Gruffalo Spotter app is available to use with the trail until the end of the year.
The app is free from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon and requires downloading before your visit. Share your pictures on social media using #GruffaloSpotters
The trail will be open seven days a week and will run throughout the summer too.
There’s plenty to do at Bedgebury once you’ve met and taken selfies with The Gruffalo and his fellow woodland creatures, with adventure play, walking, cycling, mountain-biking, running, and horse riding and Go Ape’s high-rise adventure trail. For details go to forestry.gov.uk/bedgebury
The Gruffalo is one of the world’s best-loved monsters.
First published in 1999, the award-winning story of his encounter with the little brown mouse in the deep dark wood created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Five years after the publication of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child was introduced to the world and a half-hour film of The Gruffalo premiered on BBC One on Christmas Day 2009 and was watched by 10m viewers. The Gruffalo’s Child was first screened on BBC One on Christmas Day 2011.
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