As a family we like to take little day trips, so the boys can experience as much as they can. However day trips do hit the bank account, but this Christmas we were given a Blue Planet aquarium annual pass. The pass allows us to visit the Aquarium as much as we like and gives us a discount at both the shop and the café.
The aquarium is one of Oliver’s favourite places, he just loves to watch all of the colourful fish and is in his element exploring all of the different sections of the aquarium. It is hard to find a day out that is beneficial to both of the boys as Elijah has only just turned three months, but the aquarium is a great place for Elijah to visit as well because the lighting makes it a good sensory experience for him.
Oliver is now at the age where he wants to explore and the aquarium gives the perfect opportunity to do just that. There is a large space directly in front of the entrance where there is a projection of a coral reef on the floor. The interesting thing about this projection is that it is interactive, so as you walk across it, it will show ripples where you have stepped. Oliver loved playing on this and was chasing the rays that were swimming through the reef for some time.
Throughout the aquarium there are a range of different tanks displaying different types of fish in tanks of all shapes and sizes. The aquarium is broken up into different sections, depending on where in the world these animals live. Oliver loved the Lake Malawi part of the Aquarium, with its mud turtles, tortoises and colourful fish.
There is also an underwater walkway which has a moving pathway going through it, meaning you can stand there and take in all of the different sharks, rays and fish. This is actually one of the largest underwater tunnels in the world, so it is hardly surprising that some of the sharks in the tank are over 3 metres in length. This is such a great part of the aquarium and really gives you a perspective of the creatures that live in our seas and oceans, that we otherwise wouldn’t see.
The aquarium also has a ‘venom’ attraction, which is where you can get up close and personal to some of the world’s deadliest creatures. There is a great interactive part of this attraction where you can crawl through a tunnel into the middle of a tarantula tank. Hair raising stuff.
But if that wasn’t enough the aquarium is also home to a family of Otters (which reside outside near the Pirate themed playground), an octopus, seahorses and some crocodiles.
So what did we think of it?
Well as I’ve said there are a lot of great interactive qualities throughout the aquarium and it is also a great place to take babies as the lighting does give a sensory experience. The various different tanks makes for an interesting visit and the staff are second to none.
The aquarium is a great size for toddlers who are at the age where they want to walk around more than be in their pushchair, as it is small enough for them to walk round a majority of it themselves. It is relatively easy to push a pushchair around the aquarium, but you will have to leave it in order to go through the underwater tunnel during peak times, something that I’m not 100% sure I would be comfortable doing in all honesty.
The staff at the aquarium are fantastic and really make an effort with the visitors. We watched as one person was collecting samples and as this attracted quite an audience, he came out to talk to some of the older children about what he was doing. I personally thought this was such a great thing to see, as this sort of experience can really encourage children to become more involved in biological sciences such as marine biology.
The café in all honesty leave a lot to be desired. Again the staff were great, really friendly and would go that extra mile, but the food is hugely overpriced, takes far too long to come and in an environment where there are a lot of children, this causes a fair few tantrums and stressed parents. There are some rides for children to play on, but there are only so many times you are willing to put a pound in it before you start to begrudge paying for a mechanical yellow submarine to bob about for a bit, while playing an annoying song and making irritating noises. When the hot food finally arrives, it is very nice food. The sandwiches and baguettes are not. So my advice is to bring a packed lunch!
The play area is quite small, which is great for keeping an eye on your little ones running around, but on busy days this is just absolute carnage. There are no staff to try and control the area during peak times and this tends to result in some undesirable behaviour. It’s not really a great area for toddlers to play in during peak times, so it would be nice if there was a separate area for younger children to play.
I’ve never actually seen any otters.
Overall, this is a great place to visit with the family. It only takes a couple of hours to go around the whole aquarium which is a perfect amount of time for younger children. The staff are great and make the experience a lot more interesting. The underwater tunnel is amazing, even during peak times it doesn’t get too overcrowded. If you plan your visit right there are shows, talks and feeds throughout the day, which is great for older children. I would advise taking a packed lunch, unless you are happy to wait a long while for your food. We always have a lovely day out at the aquarium and have some very fond memories there. It comes highly recommended from us.
*Note: This is not a sponsored or endorsed post