Birmingham National Sea Life Centre launched a new parent and toddler rate of £12 and currently Poppy Cat is there (until Sunday 29th September 2013). We went to visit and review Birmingham National Sea Life Centre to see exactly what people would be getting for their money.
One of the first things that the boys noticed, and were impressed by, is the Lego models. The first thing I noticed was the lack of queue and how easy it was to enter the National Sea Life Centre. The staff were very friendly, polite and helpful.
There was an option to buy a programme of what was at Birmingham Sea Life Centre for £3 and inside were vouchers for things such as a free child visit – so well worth it. The boys also were given free “hats”. We also had “Quiz trails” which involved the boys observing what they saw and working out the answers. The trial was good fun, but it started by the answers being easy and suitable for preschoolers – but quickly changed to requiring knowledge. They had to scratch off the correct answers on their cards and at the end they exchanged them for medals (we did get them all right, I’m not sure if they would have had medals anyway).
The first section the children arrived at was the one where they could touch a few of the Sea Life creatures and a lady did actually give them a talk. She did explain that this was the only place that they would be able to touch them but, to be honest, if we are talking preschool children I’m not sure how much of this they would understand: In saying that none of the other creatures were accessible to touch really, so not a problem. My boys really loved this part and am sure my 10 year old would have loved it too if he had have been there.
We were left to find our own way around Birmingham National Sea Life Centre, which was nice as we could go around at our own pace. But there were also groups who had like a tour guide. This was beneficial to us as we could stop and listen to what they were told, but also awkward because the space wasn’t that big to manoeuvre around them – especially in the underwater tunnel, and people started pushing into the back of me for me to move, but I couldn’t as the group were blocking the way. I think that Birmingham National Sea Life Centre could improve this by admitting people in groups – and then giving everyone a tour regardless of whether they came as a group or not. This would also help alleviate the problem of everyone coming out of the 4D cinema at once too, because they will have been used to going around as a group anyway.
We had great fun having our photo taken with the green screen and we bought two fridge magnets – one of us in a bath tub surrounded by fish, and the other having our feet bitten by piranhas. We usually do buy fridge magnets when we visit attractions as it is an easy way to display our memories, and see how the children are all growing. Do remember to make sure you aren’t wearing green though as it makes you invisible! You guessed it we had to go round again because our youngest son was wearing a green jumper, neither they nor us realised until we saw the pictures. Our youngest was quiet insistent on going back and watching the 4D Spongebob movie again as he loved it so much. This was possible and we didn’t have to pay again to go back so we went and had our photos retaken and watched the movie again. You can also leave and have your hand stamped and come back again.
There was a big board welcoming you to Birmingham National Sea Life Centre by Poppy Cat, and there were lots of posters around asking to make the movements like Poppy Cat – this was a big hit and made the visit fun. There was also a television in one area showing Poppy Cat episodes.
It was not clear where we would find Poppy Cat, I knew it was at certain times but not where, this I feel could have been made clearer. It was only because we had bought with us a packed lunch that we even ended up heading towards the stairs towards the soft play area (which had a poster at the bottom of them with information about Poppy Cat) to where Poppy Cat was going to be; otherwise we may have headed straight out of the shop to the exit.
Poppy Cat herself was a great hit, and my sons enjoyed listening to the stories and doing Copy Poppy. I was quiet relieved to see that the play area wasn’t too busy, and there were bean bags on the floor to make the children comfortable. They even got to go up and give Poppy Cat a great big hug!
All in all it was a good day out, and there were plenty of things to keep the children amused, and information for us older ones. I do think that my older two children would have been quickly bored, but then they are more activity kind of boys. Tickets are cheaper if you buy them online at only £10 each. Otherwise they are £19.20, or £15.00 each for 2 or more people – regardless of age unless they are under 3 years old (who are free). Midweek toddler ticket £12 for a parent and toddler and £12 for additional visitors only valid Monday-Friday between 10am-4pm – you must have a child under 5 to use this option. We visited on a Saturday (with complimentary access) but would have had to pay £50 if we had booked online. We did have a good time but in all honesty I think that for the short amount of time it took us to go around then I would have used the money to go elsewhere. Of course they are part of the Merlin group though and so can be accessed for free with a Merlin’s annual pass.
We received complimentary tickets to access Birmingham National Sea Life Centre in return for this Review.