Reviewed by Sam Mason
On Saturday 17 October my family attended The National SEA LIFE Centre in Birmingham to join the Octonauts Training Academy which runs from 18 October to 7November! We travelled by car and found an easily accessible car park located next door to the centre. On entry my children who are aged 8, 7 and 1 received their mission cards and a set of stickers to add when they had completed each of the various elements. They excitedly accepted their mission and were shown where to go and what to do by staff members who were very helpful and accommodating.
The SEA LIFE centre is very well laid out and quite spacious and I found it very easy manoeuvring my large pushchair through all the different zones.
The ‘missions’ set out by the Octonauts were dotted through several zones and some were more challenging than others! My youngest son was not too keen when presented with a starfish to touch; however, eldest son loved it! In every zone there was a Diver stamp machine which you could press an animal shape into a piece of paper, we managed to collect them all! My children particularly enjoyed all of the facts displayed in Professor Inklings Library such as its and Tweaks Craft Zone, where they could colour to their hearts content and I could have a well-deserved coffee from the nearby vending machine!
There were several opportunities for us to have a family photograph taken by the staff, one of which was us being stalked by a shark!
My children absolutely loved the 4D cinema experience which is a ‘thrilling 3D adventure ride, which features cues for popular 4D effects such as water splashes, wind blasts and bubbles. 3D fish swim out of the screen, bubbles fill the auditorium and viewers will feel the deck of the Nautilus jolt and shake when it is attacked by a giant squid’. Some of the younger children in the auditorium were slightly frightened at the film/experience and their parents took them out so as not to disturb the other families. I felt that the film was perfectly suited to my older childrens age range and my 1 year old was fast asleep throughout!
Our favourite parts of SEA LIFE Centre were the underwater tunnel and the penguins, any adult or child couldn’t help but be amazed by all of the different sea creatures that, unless you were a deep sea diver, you wouldn’t normally be able to experience.
Once all of the missions were complete the children were able to meet and greet with Captain Barnacles and pick up their medals and certificates in the gift shop. We let them burn off some more energy in the soft play area and even my 1 year old loved the ball pit!
I must admit I was slightly dubious about how well the Octonauts Training Academy would be received with my older children as it’s based on a Cbeebies programme and aimed at pre-school aged children, but they thoroughly enjoyed it and I felt that it suited their age range perfectly as they had to read their missions and facts.
A brilliant day was had by all and I would definitely recommend that all budding marine biologists enrol in the Octonauts Training Academy!
Tickets cost £20.95 (on the day, adult and children aged 3 years +), save up to 40% by booking online in advance (from £12.50). Children under 3 go free.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.visitsealife.com/birmingham.
National SEA LIFE Centre, The Waters Edge, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HL