We love our days out. And I’m currently on maternity leave, while my husband has the odd Monday off, so we like to spend the day with our boys.
Last Monday was expected to be rainy so we reluctantly decided it would be an indoor activity. We say “reluctantly,” because rainy days, indoor attractions and the school summer holidays usually equate to busy, horrible experiences.
But we’d previously been to Manchester’s Sea Life Centre when Oliver was a few months old. It was a fine day and quite quiet. So now, with a 4 months old and Oliver now 2 and a half, we decided to head back.
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, then frankly, we won’t go back. Not a good day!
If you want to know more, then here’s our full review of Sea Life Centre, Manchester.
Location and Price
Manchester Sea Life Centre is at the Trafford Centre. Make no mistake, that makes it easy to get to and means parking is pretty decent. If you are going to go, park at Barton Square. It will save you the 20 minute walk across the shopping centre!
Price wise, if you pay buy online, you can get tickets priced as follows:
- Children aged 3 and over – £11.50
- Adults – £15.50
- Children under 3 – free!
Here’s where you’ll find it:
Variety of Marine Life
One thing Sea Life in Manchester does have going for it is the variety of species in a relatively small space. Small sharks, rays, skate, turtles and so on are all readily available.
The Turtle Show at the Start
This is where the problems started for us. When you show your ticket, you’re then told to go through to a holding area before the entrance. They’ll take your photo and then there’s a countdown timer. You have around a 4 minute wait – not ideal with toddlers, but still not the end of the world.
But what you’re waiting for is a hologram show about how turtles lay their eggs. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a bad little show. But the fact it is compulsory is so far from ideal with little ones. Our 2 year old was terrified when they turned the lights off and projected realistic looking dinosaurs on the screen. And you have to go through this to get into the aquarium. If your little one doesn’t enjoy this, it means they’re upset before they even get into the aquarium.
Fortunately for us, our little boy soon got over that and went about enjoying the fish!
The Good and Bad on the Day
There’s a great variety of marine life, make no mistake. But the problem is how small it is. It was terribly overcrowded and you really couldn’t see everything. It was absolutely packed out. For such a small venue, I cannot help but feel it should be far better controlled in terms of the number of people in.
There’s a small soft play area but again, there is no control over the number of people in there and it doesn’t take many children for is to seem totally full.
In the end, our visit ended up lasting no more than 40 minutes or so, simply because we were rushing through the place desperate to get out.
Don’t get me wrong, our 4 month old loved looking at the fish and our tot was fascinated with the variety of marine life, but he couldn’t see everything and was unhappy with the crowds. So we made a quick exit.
I get it. Summer holidays and a rainy day – it will obviously make it busier. But for the size of the venue and the sheer volume of people in it, it represented really poor value for money for us.
We probably won’t go back…