Reviewed by Lucy Gwilliam
On Saturday we spent a lovely afternoon at Blackpool SEA LIFE Centre. We have not visited this SEA LIFE centre before so were very excited to be able to visit whilst the Finding Dory event was on. The event also included a special screening of Finding Nemo which was playing in the School Room at regular intervals throughout the day.
We live around an hour’s drive from Blackpool so we set off with plenty of time to park up and arrive at the SEA LIFE centre around lunch time. Our tickets had been booked and were ready to be collected from the admissions desk at the back of the tower. I did however queue up at the wrong place but the helpful assistant rang through and arranged for us to go straight to the desk, instead of having to queue up again.
The SEA LIFE centre is about a 5 minute walk down the promenade from the tower. It was an extremely busy day with it being August bank holiday weekend and the sun was shining, however, SEA LIFE was pretty quiet when we arrived and we were served straight away. I asked at the desk about the showing of Finding Nemo, however we had missed the showing that was currently on and the next one wasn’t for 2 and half hours. We had planned to make an afternoon of it so had paid for 4 hours of parking, so we explained this to the staff and after speaking with someone they agreed to put another showing of for us at 1pm. I was very impressed that they had done this, it showed excellent customer service skills.
After entering we had 15 minutes before the film showing so we went for our photo taken upstairs in the SEA LIFE centre and had a look at the Rockpools. When it was time we went back down where the member of staff was waiting for us ready for the showing. In the movie room there were big bean bags at the front and chairs behind for adults to sit and watch. The back of the room had a table with free crisps, Haribos, bananas, tangerines and stickers to keep the children occupied. I found this a really nice touch and my children enjoyed some Haribo in addition to their packed lunches.
The film lasts 96 minutes which is a lot longer than my 2 and 6 year old can concentrate for, I think they lasted around 40 minutes before they started to mess about. At this point we thanked the attendant and went back upstairs to look at the fish.
My children are fascinated with animals and fish, so I try to take them to the SEA LIFE centre or the farm/zoo whenever I can. Having trails such as the one for the Finding Dory event adds some extra fun into our visits though and they love being able to find the next clue. The children are given a booklet at the desk and they have to find letters in the tanks which then make a word, they can then exchange this for a SEA LIFE pop, which is a little souvenir badge. My children collect these, so it’s always good to add to their collection.
They loved walking through and seeing the different fish, my daughter loves star fish and sea horses whereas my son like sharks. We got to see a great deal of SEA LIFE and there were many interactive activities that you could explore and learn more about the sharks. My children are slightly too young for this though and wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to have a go of it.
Our favourite part was the tunnel in the shark area, we could see people doing the dive experience and feeding the fish which was amazing to watch.
It takes about an hour to walk though and experience everything, at the end there is a gift shop, small play area and cafe where you can relax. We didn’t go in the play area because it was under 4s and my daughter was upset she couldn’t play so we bought her a small toy from the gift shop and she was happy to go home.
When looking at prices of items in the gift shop I was very surprised at how reasonable it was. Usually, gift shops are extortionate prices but these were similar to what you might pay in the Disney shop.
Overall, we had a really lovely day which was influenced greatly by the level of service from the Merlin and SEA LIFE staff. I would rate our day 5 out of 5.
Ticket prices start from £10.95 per person online and £14.50 per person on the day. Under 3’s can visit the attraction for free. Alternatively why not purchase a Merlin Annual Pass for access to all Merlin’s 32 attractions throughout the UK for 12 months – for more details visit www.merlinannualpass.co.uk.
The Finding Dory Event is at SEA LIFE Blackpool and other SEA LIFE centres until 30 September 2016. For more information or to book tickets online and save 20% visit www.visitsealife.com/blackpool.
SEA LIFE Blackpool, Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 5AA