A Family Day Out in Manchester with Merlin Review

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Reviewed by Brian Grehan

We have just finished the school holidays and trying to find things to occupy the children can be quite difficult. We live in Manchester and luckily enough we have two of Merlin Entertainments attractions on our doorstep, located in the intu Trafford Centre: SEA LIFE Manchester and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester (LDC). So for a treat during the holidays I took my sons for a visit to both.

SEA LIFE Manchester

My twin sons have grown up asking to ‘go see the fishes’ at SEA LIFE Manchester Aquarium and so there was a lot of excitement in our house when they found out that I was taking them not just there, but also to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for the day. One of the boys even wrote an excited note to his grandad telling him all about the upcoming trip. The day of our outing arrived and you could not have had two more excited little boys. We parked quickly in the Barton Square car park, which is very close to the attractions and easily accessible from the M60 and is well signposted. There is an excellent public transport service to the Intu Trafford Centre too.

We decided to visit SEA LIFE first. The admission process was simple and fast. The staff could not have been more helpful. It wasn’t long at all before we were off exploring the attraction. I was delighted to see the many learning opportunities available with plenty of information about each display. My little boys could learn about every single species on display. I think that SEA LIFE also do wonderful work, not only with regards conservation, but in educating people to look after our planet better.

The boys’ favourite creatures were the clownfish, no doubt due to their love of watching Finding Nemo. The sharks are my favourite and I thoroughly enjoyed the tunnel walk, while sharks were swimming above our heads. Another favourite of the boys were the rays.

On the way around there is a small soft play area that both boys enjoy playing in and gives the adults a rest.

We then popped over to the Rockpool to hold some of the sea creatures before leaving the attraction and heading to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, which is located a few doors down.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

We entered the attraction quickly, got our photograph taken and went up in the lift to the 1st floor. When you come out of the lift, there is the LEGO Factory Tour which you do have the option to skip. The boys like the tour so we waited a few minutes for it to start and went on our journey to find out how LEGO bricks are made. It is a fun and interactive tour which lasts around 5-10 minutes and at the end each child receives their very own “freshly made” brick.

The first ride we went on was the Kingdom Quest. We had great fun shooting our laser guns. We then walked through Mini Land, where the boys were fascinated with the moving vehicles. We opted not to go on either the Forest Ranger Pursuit ride or on Merlin’s Apprentice ride on this occasion, but have had great fun experiencing them in the past. We also chose not to go to the 3D cinema this time, but have experienced some fantastic movies in the past.

The boys spent lots of their time in the Duplo Farm area. This is their favourite part of the attraction and given the choice, they would spend hours in there. They also thoroughly enjoyed racing round the Ninjago City Adventure Play Area.

The café is great and you even get a discount if you have an annual pass. I find it reasonably priced with a good selection of food and drink options.     

We had great fun building racers and pushing them down the tracks. I could have easily spent all day in this area. After a few hours of quality family time we excited the attraction via the well stocked shop.

Both attractions have excellent toilet facilities and it’s clear that they are well looked after and checked on a regular basis.  

We enjoyed a great day out at both attractions and look forward to coming back soon. It is much better value to buy a combo ticket to visit both attractions rather than individual tickets and the annual ticket is a bargain.

To visit LEGOLAND Discovery Centre adults must be accompanied by a child (up to 17 years old).

Rating: 5/5

For more information or to book tickets online visit www.visitsealife.com/manchester or www.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk.

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