Sea Life

Sea Life Manchester – fun with the kids?

After hearing great reviews, and realizing it is only one junction up from us on the motorway, we recently decided to take our youngest 2 boys, aged 8 and 12, to visit Sea Life Manchester for a family day out.


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Sea Life Manchester is a fascinating little aquarium that makes the very most of the relatively small space it occupies right behind the Trafford Centre in Barton Square.

We chose a Sunday morning to visit, working on the theory that it wouldn’t be too busy – a theory that paid off as it was really quiet and we didn’t even have to queue to get in, always a bonus when you have kids with a very short attention span.

In the foyer there is a map of the aquarium and a really impressive tank to whet the appetite before we were offered a family snapshot at the bargain price of £20. From there it was straight into ‘Turtle Beach’, an amazing experience offering insight into turtles – how they live, reproduce and other

Ernie the turtle was a great hit

Ernie the turtle was a great hit

interesting facts. Packed with impressive CGI style graphics and delivered by a very enthusiastic young lady it was possibly the highlight of our visit.

My boys were really impressed to learn that the temperature of the sand the eggs were laid in actually determines what sex the turtles will be when they hatch and my youngest is now hoping for a turtle egg for Christmas.

Once the talk was over we were free to wander around the aquarium at our own pace, which, left to our boys would be incredibly quick as there wasn’t really much to keep older children as interested as we had hoped, apparently if you’ve seen one fish, you’ve seen them all – well, according to my youngest anyway.

Our visit coincided with the opening of a new attraction the aquarium have unveiled called Sea Stars and for me it really added value to the day. There are several eye-catching displays that all have massive windows and they are full of the most amazing starfish, including my personal favourite, the Giant Pink starfish.

The area also boasts an impressive pop up display where we could all climb through a sea tunnel right in the middle of one of the biggest displays for what turned out to be a tentacle-tastic-close-up view.

As with every display at Sea Life, there are plenty of facts alongside the display offering interesting facts – some you would probably rather not know but the kids will love, like the fact some starfish turn their stomachs inside out to eat.

About two thirds of the way round we discovered a small soft play area, of course the boys jumped straight in, abandoning shoes and having a great time. This lasted 5 minutes before they tired of running around what is really a play area suited to much younger children although, judging by the various ages of the kids playing and the fact there were no staff to be seen, there is no age restriction in place.

From the ball pit we moved onto the Touch Pool where the boys stroked crabs and touched several less than impressed looking shrimps – not my cup of tea but they loved it.

Sealife Manchester

There’s plenty of fish, as expected…

Last but by no means least we entered the underwater ocean tunnel, culminating in a beautiful Mayan-esque rock sculpture. We had to wait to get a photo at this spot, there seemed to be a pile-up of people with smartphones snapping away furiously, but it was worth it as it really is rather beautiful.

We exited the tunnel right into the gift shop, much to the kid’s delight – not a word I would use to describe how I felt once I had seen the prices.

Sea Life Manchester also offers a SeaTREK experience, boasting to be Europe’s first seabed walk and costing £60 per person. Divers are surrounded by hundreds of fish, sharks, rays and even Ernie, resident Giant Green Sea Turtle.

Tempting as it sounds we declined on this occasion, we were all fished out and just couldn’t plaice, sorry, face, another hour of fishy fun, however up close and personal, instead we headed home after our fun family time.

My overall view is Sea Life Manchester is a good place to pass an hour with young children but is

Sea Life Manchester

The tunnel

overpriced and a little dull at times for the older ones. As a family of four we paid just under £50 admission for what was a very quick visit – even by our standards.

Plenty of pretty fish to look at but none of the creepy crawlies and snakes that the other, bigger Sea Life Centre venues offer and disappointing to see that the much smaller aquarium size is not reflected in the rather oversized prices.

Ideal for fish enthusiasts maybe – not so good for a family looking for a cheap, fun day out.














Sea Life Trafford….a review




A NEW Sea Life Centre has recently opened at Barton Square in the Trafford Centre and, after hearing good reviews, we decided to head over with the children to see for ourselves.


Arriving at around lunch time on Saturday there was a long queue but it moved quickly and we only waited about 10 minutes, even my impatient kids didn’t have time to get bored.


The tour began with a short yet informative talk about turtles, incorporating some great visual effects and lots of interactivity. We took our youngest two boys, aged seven and ten, they were both transfixed as the baby turtles ‘hatched’ before our eyes and scurried towards the ‘sea’.


The Centre is packed with amazing displays throughout as well as lots of tunnels and viewing hidey-holes, which the boys really enjoyed. There are interactive touch screens next to every tank providing facts about the various fish on display, for those that can stand still long enough to read them.


Finding a soft play area about half way round the boys were delighted and shot off, leaving me to catch my breath after the excited sprint around the tanks they had insisted on.

This would have been the perfect time to sit down and have a cup of tea, unfortunately there were no chairs and I had to stand around as they played, my only complaint of the day to be fair.


When they ran out of steam the boys reappeared and we went to look around the rest of the aquarium, my youngest insisting we head back to see the jellyfish again. They were in a huge tank with a dramatic changing light display and we spent quite a while watching them.


On the way out we passed the clown fish, where I explained to the boys that all clown fish are born male with the biggest and strongest turning female…..I found this interesting fact, along with others in the guide book I bought on the way in;)


We ended our time at Sea Life in the gift shop where the boys chose something each to remember our fun day out. There was plenty of choice and it was good to see some pocket money toys too.


I was really impressed with how child friendly the attraction was and we had a fantastic day. The boys were still talking about it long after we returned home.


I would recommend a trip to Sea Life, in fact we upgraded our tickets to annual passes on the way out and are planning our next visit already.


Tickets are £16.20 per adult whilst a family is charged at £14.10 per family member. Children under 3 enter for free. Annual passes are also available as well as combination tickets for Lego Land that offer discounts.


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