Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Birmingham Sea Life Review July 2015

With a Summer visit to Birmingham Sea Life, we really hit the ground running with the school Summer holidays. Aaron broke up on Friday 17th July and off we headed the next day Saturday 18th July.

I thought we may stay that busy throughout the 6 weeks, but being pregnant has seen our days out interspersed with PJ days, so it's been both exciting and restful.

It seems like every city in the UK is being regenerated with open spaces and big open air screens, with Birmingham being no exception. Has a very European feel to it and I was VERY impressed with our view from the multi story carpark and the sound of Frozen music bellowing out. 
You can get the vibe, with the sights and sounds we were met with on arrival by watching the start of our YouTube video.

I was very impressed with Birmingham Sea Life, even from outside before we entered, as you can see from the video thumbnail pic I've chosen to use above.

It's lovely and open plan in the reception area where you queue, with a lovely high ceiling and the beginning of sea life lego on display. The staff give a great welcome and we were ready to set sail for our tour of their facilities.
Aaron was immediately captivated and set the speed for our tour. Either delaying at something he was fascinated with or pulling us by the hand to the next display.

Until 31st August 2015 you can:

BECOME A LEGO® CITY EXPLORER

Birmingham’s National Sea Life Centre is hosting a special treat this summer…a chance to explore the secrets of the ocean and become a LEGO® City Deep Sea Explorer. From June 1st the Centre will feature a LEGO® City Deep Sea Experience where visitors can take part in activities to become an official LEGO® City Deep Sea Explorer. Visitors will be invited to get hands-on and build a LEGO® sea creature. They will also embark on a novel treasure hunt to seek out LEGO® creations hidden amongst the colourful marine life in the displays. Every Sea Life visitor will receive an activity pack that includes; an Official LEGO® Deep Sea Explorer certificate, sticker sheet, fun Scuba mask and more.
One of the rooms was dedicated to Lego, children playing in the centre, with adults seated all around. This was located approximately 50% through the tour and was the perfect oasis to have a well earned rest. We were able to chill whilst Aaron made a lego creation for us to photograph and share on social media. There was shelving there for the children to proudly display their exhibition before moving on. Was a very relaxed highlight of the day it must be said. You can see his creation next to him above. It may look small, but a lot of time, effort and thought went into it. Daddy and I were amazed at his concentration, dedication and attention to detail. His lego building ability is growing just like his arms and legs ha ha!
Excuse the blur, but my camera is currently broken so all pics were taken on my phone, which doesn't cope with poor lighting
All of the signage in Birmingham Sea Life is colourful and stimulating for little ones. The headings grab the early reader, encouraging them to ask Mummy or Daddy what the rest  of it says. Everything was maintained to a high standard and totally built with wheelchair and buggy access in mind as everyone moved around with ease. All of the displays had a huge amount of glass, meaning Aaron was able to see everything. The environment was very relaxed so he never ran far ahead. It was stimulating for adults and children so made the perfect day out for us all. We left there uplifted rather than tired. We were hungry though, as there are only vending machines in there, so factor lunch into your plans. After a long drive we were just anxious to get inside and start our day, as we weren't sure how long we needed in there. I'd say 4-5 hours will cover you seeing everything. 

If you like photo souvenirs there are several opportunities as you go around. You choose, collect and pay for them at a dedicated desk on departure. I ended up forking out for a large framed pic AND a keyring - oooops.

Daddy and I were transfixed by these jelly fish and could have watched them in a meditative state for an hour had Aaron not been with us. They reminded me of lava lamps, which incidentally used to have the same effect on me. These are way better though and feature in my above video.
Aaron's favourite thing by far was the turtles. I videoed rather than photographed them though. There were large ones and small long knecked ones. They were surprisingly graceful. You can click here to see the: top 25 sea life creatures at Birmingham Sea Life

We queued for a short amount of time at the centre's 4D cinema to see 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. We were warned verbally and in writing, whilst queuing that the 4D effects were not working but we went in to view the short movie anyway. I am glad we did, as we all 3 of us enjoyed it, BUT our seats still vibrated, with each and every sound effect and it wasn't at all a pleasant experience. I am pregnant and I just kept thinking "what on earth is the baby feeling and is it frightening him/her". As much as I loved the cute film and storyline, I wouldn't put me or baby through it again. It frightened Aaron too, so when we recently went to At-Bristol, before going into the Planetarium I had to assure him that they had neither 4D effects nor vibrating seats; he only believed me when a staff member told him same.

The Amazon is a beautiful part of the Birmingham Sea Life centre, with lots of waterfalls and beautiful sounds. In fact all of the displays provide for a very chilled atmosphere that takes you away from it all. I was worried I would be disappointed like I was when I visited the Aquarium in London many years ago, but it's way better. (Perhaps London has got better too since I visited).

If you have a child who likes soft play, or generally being active, then allow anything from 30-60 minutes for departure as this is just before the exit (below). It is not massive, so at first Aaron said it was "babyish" but it didn't stop him having a grand old time for an hour in there, and protesting when it was time to leave. It's in a very limited space, so there is no coffee and very little space for adults to sit (unlike the Lego room which had plenty of space to sit) but it is a welcome spot for the adults to chill again after being on your feet touring the aquarium.

Given the limited seating area, Daddy chilled immediately outside by the water, whilst I watched Aaron play and as usual ended up talking to another Mum, who perfectly happened to be the Mum of the boy Aaron had made friends with. I only got to leave, because they were leaving, so said to Aaron "come on, your friend is leaving too". Was perfect timing as by this point we were all  very hungry.

We then joined Daddy by the water and chilled for a moment before heading on. 

We explored the BUZZING local area in the evening sun, before heading back to our nearby hotel - Premier Inn as always! We stayed in Birmingham for the convenience of being near Thomas Land the next day, so that is another review I have coming for you.

Disclosure: Our entrance to Birmingham Sea Life was covered for the purposes of an honest review. All words, opinions and photos are my very own. I remain 100% unbiased and honest in my account of our day. Please do drop me a comment if you are visiting and have ANY questions.




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