Ay has recently taken into Octonauts and has been so much into fish and sharks, that I decided it was time to visit an aquarium again. We have been to the National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham before and though I prefer the London sea life aquarium (review HERE) for reasons explained below, we have never been to the Legoland Discovery centre in Birmingham, so decided to have a go at visiting both attractions in one day (both being within walking distance from each other). Read our review of Legoland Discovery centre in Birmingham HERE.
The highlight for us at the National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham is the UK’s Only 360° Ocean Tunnel. You have to wait for this experience until the very end. Although the tunnel is not particularly long, it is a truly unique experience as you as you walk through the sea, marvelling at the sharks, giant turtle, sting rays and hundreds of tropical fish, swimming overhead and underneath. We fell in love with the giant green sea turtle, who came swimming above us and at one point was so close that Ay tried to kiss him. He (or she) is called Molokai and weighs a huge 20 stone!
Other highlights include tickling a star fish in the rock pool (which was surprisingly soft), spotting Nemo and Dory in the entire aquarium (of course, all clownfish are now Nemo), meeting Ozzy and Oklahoma (the UK’s First Sea Otters who played stunts around us), admiring the different variety of sting-ray (whose smiley face under-side is fascinating) and watching the jellyfish swirl, the pregnant sea horses hop and the eels popping out of the ground. The penguins also amused us with their cheeky antics as they dived beneath the freezing waters in their icy home and came swimming towards us.
You can also watch a 4D cinematic adventure, which needs to be booked for additional £3.5o pp. It is a bit disappointing that you have to pay for it as I think it should be included as a part of the experience just like in the Legoland. We did not watch the movie this time but have previously enjoyed Octonauts with special effects and it was amazing.
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The tickets are pricey but worth the money in my opinion. I just wished we did not have to pay for the movie separately. General entry ticket starts from £19 on weekdays or 24£ on weekends (if you book ahead online). If you visit during the week in term time, you can buy an adult and preschooler (5 and under) ticket for just £18, which is what we did and is an amazing offer. You can upgrade to include visit to the nearby Legoland discovery centre (read our review HERE), which is just a short walk away, for additional £10 pp. They are both doable in one day and makes a good day out for much better value for money. If you buy the combo ticket online, then it is more expensive, so I suggest doing it on the day at the venue. Also, if you are using the preschooler offer, and planning to visiting both attractions, then buy the Legoland ticket (and visit it first) as the price would be cheaper and you can upgrade for the same 10£ pp to visit Sea life. You can also redeem your Tesco Clubcard vouchers or look for promotional 2 for 1 offers on cereal boxes.
They have roughly the same things but London Sea Life aquarium is on a much grander scale, is more interactive, with bigger tanks , larger sharks and more variety (e.g. there are more species of jelly fish in London). The rainforest experience of London is also so much better. Read our review of London Sea Life aquarium HERE.
Birmingham one was less crowded and has the advantage of the 360 tunnel but in London, you get to go through the tunnel a few times, sometimes with sharks under you or the fish above you, so I preferred London overall. However, this has to be weighed against the logistics of getting into London etc.
🗺 Address: National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, B1 2HL
🎟 Charges apply. Please see website for more uptodate prices
🚘 The centre does not have its own car park, however car parking facilities are located within a minutes walk of the centre at Arena Birmingham South B16 8ET and Q park Brindleyplace B1 2JF (standard daily fees are £5 for up to two hours; £7-8 for up to three hours; £9-11 for up to four hours). We parked on the near by Edward road where there are some spaces and paid 5£ for four hours (via RingGo) which is cheaper than the above car parks, so it is worth driving around.
Also, the area falls into the low emission zone in central Birmingham, where separate charges operate for certain cars and has to be paid online. Please check HERE to avoid penalty and unexpected charges
🚻 Toilets on site
🍕No refreshments on site and you are not allowed to bring your own food and drinks in to SEA LIFE Birmingham. However, there are many options just outside the building.
🧺 Not enough space for Picnic in the aquarium but you could do it outside near the canals if you wished
🦽 Buggy accessible
🐕 Dogs not allowed
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