I went along to the National Sea life Centre, Birmingham on Saturday and had a lovely time. I must admit, I’ve not ventured into the city for some time out of fear of crowded places and with the terrible news that plagues us, I had chosen to not visit here with my children.
BUT, new years resolutions and all, I wanted to face my fears and revisit the amazing city that is on my doorstep!!
My 7 year old and 3 year old were pretty excited and when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to see no queues and we had arrived prime time at 12.30pm. Now a handy tip here – do not visit the Sea life Centre without a discount! We used the Cadbury’s 241 voucher found on bags of Cadbury’s snacks. This meant we only paid half price taking the cost down to £40 pound for a family of 2 adults, 2 children and 1 infant.
Each of my children received a handy stamp book which they had to stamp whilst walking around the centre. Both my children love interaction so whilst walking round we were on a hunt for the stamping machines! Even though they each had their own they were fighting as to who went first!
The centre is spread out across three floors which are interlinked via ramps and a lift so perfect for wheelchair users and pushchairs. Perhaps the walkways could be a little wider as some areas of the centre, especially around the big shark tank can be tight!
Although the centre is not huge, I was surprised at how many different species of marine life there was. We were greeted with Penguins which were a great hit with my kids – there are several viewing windows for the children to really get a good look and at certain times of the day, the centre holds Penguin feeding talks which unfortunately we missed. They also loved the huge shark tank, sting rays and the interactive reef where visitors can touch star fish. On this day, there was a staff member showcasing Shark egg shells which looked interesting!
There were plenty of information boards along our journey as well as interactive zones where the children could take part in a quiz, get closer looks at coral reefs and complete an octopus puzzle.
For a bit of a difference, the centre also has a 4D experience. This was a short 15 minute film showcasing the Octonauts from CBeebies. This was great, even my 10 month old enjoyed watching it (despite the fact he didn’t have the 4D glasses on!) and was really fun. The chairs wobbled, bubbles were blown out and there were several sprays of water!
The highlight of our trip was the amazing tunnel that runs through a HUGE tank full of fish, sharks, two turtles and many more. You walk through and feel so close to the creatures. It really was very interactive even though you couldn’t actually touch the marine life. I hear a rumour that some local schools do overnight stays where the children can sleep over in the tunnel – if true then what an experience!
At the end of your experience, there is a small soft play which again despite my kids saying their legs hurt, dashed in for a play. It’s rather on the small side but as an extra addition to the centre, it didn’t really matter. Here you can also collect any photos that you had taken around the centre. There is a photographer near the penguin encounter and one upstairs before entering the 4D experience. Finally there is a small shop selling a wide variety of soft toys, stationery etc. I feel some of the prices were a little on the high side, but it is to be expected! (Perfectly placed at the end of your visit when your children want every item in sight!)
We had a lovely visit which lasted approx 2 hours so I would say its a Half day out. There is many restaurants surrounded the centre and a multi story car park a 3 minute walk away.
From the Spring, SeaLife Centre Birmingham will be opening its doors to a new encounter – the Piranha Tunnel showcasing the Red-Bellied Piranhas! Scared huh?!
Jelly Invaders is also something new where you can dive into a world of slime, stingers and brainless jelly in a brand new exhibit! Watch this space!
They offer an adult and toddler (under 5) ticket which is at a reduced cost of £14 only to be used weekdays and selected Saturdays and Sundays.
Adult and Child over 3 years: £20
DON’T FORGET – You can save 35% if booking in advance online or with several promotions such as Cadbury’s and Kellogg’s, you can get BOGOF on door ticket price saving 50%!
Review by The Willow Tree