Disclosure: These tickets were sent to me free of charge by Superbreak in order for us to review this attraction. However, as per my PR info disclaimer, this review is my unbiased honest opinion of the attraction.
Attraction: National Sea Life Centre, Birmingham
Price: Tickets start at £10
Age Range: n/a
Description: SEA LIFE centres take visitors on a magical journey through the amazing marine world, encountering thousands of remarkable creatures on the way. Breathtaking displays of every conceivable shape and size cleverly recreate a variety of marine habitats, from shoreline rock-pools to the ocean depths, and visitors are immersed in a watery wonderland in order to meet an incredible array of residents from humble shrimps and starfish to sharks and stingrays.
Located in the heart of Birmingham, the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham invites you to take part in the ultimate quest to discover the sunken treasures of the legendary Lost City of Atlantis. A magical mirror maze winds its way around the lairs of some secretive and mysterious sea creatures. An amazing 360 degree acrylic tunnel allows all round viewing of a fantastic collection of marine life including sharks, sea turtles and beautiful colourful tropical fish.
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Rating: (4/5 stars)
Review: We visited the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham a few weeks ago on a Sunday, and it made a great day out.
Georgie really enjoyed seeing all the different types of fish and sea creatures. She was absolutely entranced by the colourful fish and amazed at the fluorescent jellyfish. The variety of things to sea was astounding, and there were some truly amazing creatures on show. There was plenty of information about the exhibits on display dotted about, and the (reasonably priced) guide book provided an interesting amount of information without being overwhelming, as well as doubling up as a nice souvenir for the trip.
The feeding demonstrations and “interactive rockpool” seemed good – we didn’t manage to see a full feeding demonstration as Georgie wanted to keep moving – she is still a bit young to stay still long enough for that sort of thing, but what we did catch seemed informative and nicely informal. At the rockpool she came really close to stroking a starfish, but chickened out at the last second!
The centre itself was a little shabby in areas and with a couple of empty exhibits dotted about, but the overall impression was positive. Georgie certainly didn’t notice the parts that could use a lick of paint, and ran excitedly from tank to tank, asking to be lifted up whenever she was too short – which, unfortunately, was quite frequently. My arms were aching after a while! As it is a family attraction, it would be nice if the tanks began a bit lower down, or there was a step for younger visitors to stand on to peer in.
There were enough toilets available, and we noticed at least one “refreshment area” where you could buy drinks & snacks from vending machines. The quiz was quite fun, but one or two of the questions were difficult to find, and could be easily missed. They were quite hard to answer sometimes too, and although you’d expect the answer to be fairly easily discoverable nearby on the information boards or from the facts painted on the walls, we ended up having to guess one or two of the answers.
One of the things on offer at the Centre was a “4D Cinema” which was showing a Spongebobs Squarepants adventure. Georgie enjoyed the film, which was quite fun and not too long, but some of the special effects scared her a little and she ended up on my lap. She did like the bubbles floating down from the ceiling though! Lydia looked very fetching in a pair of 3D glasses, but slept through the entire thing in the pushchair!
The exit is through the gift shop, of course, which has a great range of clothes, toys & other souvenirs from your visit. Even the choosiest child is bound to find something they love here, and the prices aren’t too extortionate (just a little bit pricey, as is traditional for these sorts of things!). We let Georgie pick out a small soft toy for Lydia, as well as one for herself, and James spotted a lovely sun hat on sale too, which has been a huge hit with our little girl!
There are no restaurant/cafe facilities at the Sea Life Centre which means that you have to find somewhere to eat elsewhere, but it is well situated in Brindley Place and close to family friendly favourites like handmade burger Co and Pizza Express, so this isn’t too much of an issue. They will even stamp your hand to allow you free re-entry onto the centre, until closing time.
We didn’t have any trouble with accessibility as far as going around the centre with the pushchair was concerned, and the pathways were generally wide enough for people to pass by each other easily. I only ran one thankfully forgiving person over a little bit in the darkened jellyfish discovery area!
We’re going to give the Sea Life Centre 4 out of 5 stars, as we really enjoyed our day out and thought it provides quite good value for the ticket price – especially if you can get a good offer on your tickets, which are frequently available.