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National Sea Life Centre (Birmingham)

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The Waters Edge, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HL. Tel:+44(0)121 633 4700. Prices: Adult £ 8.00, Child £ 5.50, OAP £ 5.95. Open Daily from 10 am.

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      21.04.2011 12:02
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      An exhilarating and educational underwater experience that will enthral children and adults alike

      The only problem with living inland is that it can be very difficult to experience the wonders of the deep blue yonder, especially if you don't like to get your feet wet. However, help is at hand though in the form of The National Sea Life Centre. These aquatic marine centres are dotted all around the country, and they provide a lot of us with the experience of observing and learning about a large number of marine animals, without the need to learn how to scuba dive or gain a PhD in marine biology.


      >>> Finding the Ocean in Birmingham

      The Sea Life Centre is located just off of Birmingham's Board Street alongside the canal and next door to the Birmingham National Indoor Arena. For those of you that drive there is ample parking facilities just a short distance away in the main NIA car park, however, for those that don't drive, it is just a little over a 10 minute walk from Birmingham New Street Railway Station, plus there are plenty of bus services that run near to the centre itself.


      >>> I See the Sea

      The Sea Life Centre is home to a host of aquatic freshwater and marine creatures, it boasts over 60 different displays and it is the home to over 1,000 aquatic creatures. The aquarium is fairly compact with all the displays near to one another, the design is cleverly thought out, as there is so much to see. The displays are all beautifully done, and they are all easy to view even for little ones. The tanks and displays are in optimum condition and they all look well maintained, as do the creatures themselves. There is tranquil atmospheric ambient music that flows through the centre which adds to the experience and makes it feel even more magical.


      There are various different tanks that are of differing shapes and sizes. With open pools that can be viewed easily by little ones where you can watch through the water, and they can also be viewed from above. There are smaller tanks that have convex windows to view the sea life, raised tanks that have large windows and there are plenty of open pools, amongst many other innovative displays. They have cleverly recreated the habitats to suit the occupants with rock pools and shallow pools, some of the tanks are dark and murky, and some of the displays are brightly lit to create the right environment for the inhabitants. Flash photography is prohibited to protect the marine creatures, as this could harm and upset them.


      The displays are arranged in collective sections based around common themes, one of the first themed displays you come to is Shark Lagoon which is a low level open pool that is on the ground which is incredibly well lit, it is approximately 4ft high, and it contains a number of various sharks and rays. Children are able to easily watch the sharks as they swim below the water or from above as the dart around beneath the surface.


      There is plenty of information regarding the occupants of the tanks which is clearly displayed, the fact boards are educational for both adults and children, older children will enjoy learning about the different marine creatures. There are also feeding demonstrations scheduled throughout the day, as well as informative talks where you can learn about the sea creatures and the history of them.


      >>> Get ready for a Fishy Encounter

      Arriving at the Sea Life Centre you may be surprised to see that the exterior of the building is quite small, however, upon entering you are dazzled with innovative fish tanks on different levels with ramps meandering between them. The entrance has several large sets of double doors that are heavy and can be quite tricky to open, especially if you have a pushchair, however, these act as a safety feature, as it prevents younger children from leaving the building alone.


      The entrance is quite spacious, and it is quite unusual to find yourself queuing, although if it is busy during peak times then there are plenty of attractions at the entrance to keep little ones occupied. Children are attracted towards the open fish tank which has water cascading from above, it is conveniently situated next to the tills to keep them interested whilst you pay and collect your tickets. There is also a fast track queue which is used during busy periods for visitors who have either pre-purchased tickets on-line, or for annual pass holders. Once you have paid the entrance fee, if you wish to come and go throughout the day, then you are required to get your hand stamped.


      >>> Meeting the Fishy Inhabitants

      > ~ Life beneath the ocean - Tropical Paradise ~ <

      The Ocean Tunnel is one of the main attractions of the centre; it is a fully transparent acrylic tubular tunnel that runs through a one-million-litre underwater tank. The tunnel is a spectacular experience, as you get to go on a marine voyage under the sea without getting wet. The occupancies of the surrounding tank are a visual delight, as you get to observe and encounter a multitude of magnificent sea creatures.


      The ocean tank is home to two giant green sea turtles named Molokai and Gulliver; these beautiful and mystical creatures move gracefully in the water, it is fascinating to watch them and to be able to view these enormous turtles so closely. Alongside these peaceful giants, the tank also plays host to a number of species of shark such as, black tip reef and hammerhead sharks, these legendary powerful creatures are striking, they look menacing and fearsome, however, they are gracious and fascinating to observe. The ocean tank is also populated with a host of tropical fish and marine life that inhabits the ocean; it is a tranquil environment that is peaceful and awe-inspiring.


      Being encapsulated in the tunnel is serene and peaceful, it is incredibly relaxing to just gaze out into the water as sharks, giant sea turtles and a whole host of tropical fish flutter by, it is quite something to have an enormous giant sea turtle swim overhead. It feels like you are out in the middle of the ocean as all manner of sea life surrounds you, it is breathtaking to be able to get close to these remarkable creatures, it is a truly magical experience. It is amazing to be able to experience marine life under the sea and the way that these fascinating creatures interact with one another.


      >> Otter Sanctuary

      The Otter sanctuary is home to an adorable little family of otters. The sanctuary is a decent size; you can view these marine animals from indoors through glass windows, where you can observe these energetic little creatures playing and chasing one another. The sanctuary also has an enclosed outdoor area for them to roam about. These semi-aquatic furry otters have their very own stream which is embedded in a risen valley. These energetic little creatures are a joy to watch, as they propel themselves through the water and burrow in the dirt, they are mischievous little creatures that are always getting up to tricks.


      >> Bay of Rays

      The rays are housed in a large open pool which can be observed through the water as they glide along the surface, or above the water when they swim to the surface in their waist high tank. You can walk around the entire tank, and there are steps which allow you to view the tank from above. These marvellous, large but peaceful marine creatures are very popular with all visitors. They are charming to watch as they gently glide across the bottom of the pool; these curious creatures will occasionally swim up the side of the tank to greet you.


      >> Other Creatures to Lookout for

      A popular attraction is the Rock Pool where an expert team member will talk about the creatures and answer any questions posed. You are also invited to hold or touch a crab, and you can even touch a starfish. There is a small sink close by so you can wash your hands after handling the sea creatures.
      The poison dart frogs at Mangrove Swamp are dear little creatures, they are tiny, however, the vivid colours that they exhibit more than make up for their small size. They are incredible to watch in their miniature rainforest, as they seem motionless before they suddenly move, if you blink, you might miss them in action, as they are speedy little creatures.

      Nemo's kingdom is another appealing feature, especially with children who have seen the popular animated Pixar movie. The cute clownfish is every bit like Nemo and the rest of the main characters can be found here too, children are captivated and enthralled when they get to encounter a real life Nemo.

      There's a staggering amount creatures for you to meet from deadly piranhas, to mystical seahorses, all of which are fascinating. There is so much more to discover, and on each and every trip we manage to notice different creatures, and the experience always feels unique. There are all different kinds of aquatic creatures to see, however, I won't tell you about any more of them, as you will just have to see them for yourself.


      >>> Taking the Fish Home

      Upon exiting the Sea Life Centre you have to walk through the gift shop, which is conveniently and cleverly located, as there is no way to avoid it. The gift shop is quite small, however, it is crammed to the rafters with a massive array of toys and souvenirs, all of which are reasonably priced, in fact, I was surprised, as everything seemed like good value for money, and they even have a pocket money section, so you don't need to spend a fortune to take home a reminder, or to appease any children you have with you. The gift shop has a lovely selection with lots of plastic marine toys, soft toys, and even T-shirts and jumpers.


      The cafe is also located at the rear of the building overlooking the canal, however, unlike the rest of the attraction, the cafe is rather drab and dull looking, and it is easy to miss. It really needs some colour injected into it to tie in with the rest of the centre. I have never seen anyone actually making use of the cafe, in all the times I have visited. It always seems desolate which gives the impression that it won't be up to much good. The soft play area is a good feature to let the little ones burn off their energy, and it always seems to be busy.


      >>> Our Voyage Under the Sea

      Once the warmer weather was upon us I decided to have a look on-line to see what attractions were nearby that would appeal to my little boy. After having a search, I came to the conclusion that the Sea Life Centre in the neighbouring city of Birmingham would be a fun day out for all the family, although not a cheap day.

      When we arrived at the Sea Life Centre for the first time, I immediately thought how small the building looked, on entering my initial thoughts soon faded as I was dazzled by the displays, I was excited and I couldn't wait to go on a fishy adventure to explore the aquatic life. I was captivated by all of the beautiful and colourful creatures, as was the rest of the family. I wasn't sure if it would keep my son's interest for the entire duration, as he was only 24 months old when we first visited, he was memorized and he thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of the creatures. He was so entranced when we was in the Ocean Tunnel, as I held him he actually fell asleep, which gave us the opportunity to walk around for a second time to have a more adult look at the place.

      On the first visit after walking through the maze we came to a large tank, which looked dark, gloomy, and empty. Most people walked past this without taking a second to look, I decided to take a closer look, as I would hate to miss anything. How glad I did, after searching around I finally spotted something dangling from above, the water is incredibly dark and murky, once my eyes had adjusted I finally managed to see the incredible creature - an octopus - wow! I was mesmerised, I was not expecting to see such an incredible creature, it was quite far away so I couldn't see its body, just a cloudy outline, I could, however, see its legs dancing in the water. I waited in hope that it would come closer; however, it was quite shy. On our next visit, I was astounded to see this beautiful creature leant against the small glass window with its legs flailing about, I was in awe. On our most recent visit, I was saddened to see that the Octopus was no longer a resident.

      On our next visit we opted to purchase the annual passes, as we frequent Birmingham regularly, and I could see it being put to full use. We have visited quite a few time since, and we have enjoyed a trip there recently and will be going back again at the end of the month for my son's third birthday. It is always an enthralling and unique experience each and every time we visit, as there is so much to see. It is generally under two hours of entertainment, you can spend as little or as much time there as you like, depending on how long you watch each display for. My enthusiastic little boy usually leads the way now, and in his excitement we are usually finished within 30 minutes, however, we usually have a second walk around.

      In all the number of times that we have visited there has never much of a queue to get in, however, it is usually fairly busy any time of the day and it is no different during the week, as there are usually school trips. It is reasonably warm inside, so it is advisable to wear light clothing.


      >>> Outside the Centre

      The Sea Life Centre exits onto the Birmingham canal, which is nice to walk along when the weather is pleasant, however, because it is a functional canal there are no safety barriers running alongside the canal bank, so care is needed if younger children are with you. There are plenty of eateries within the local vicinity to suit all palates and budgets. We usually stop off somewhere for a bite to eat, as there are so many tempting places that all offer different cuisine. There is also plenty to do in Birmingham so you can make a day of it; it is a shopper's paradise with a vast array of oversized shops, however, if shopping isn't your thing, then there are plenty of other attractions and sights to take in.


      >>> Access all Areas

      The Sea Life Centre has easy access and is fully accessible to wheelchairs throughout. It is easy to negotiate with a pushchair, and my son was happy to walk around. There is a lift that takes you between the levels. It is a bit of a walk up quite a few ramps.


      >>> Tickets Please

      Prices accurate as of October 2010
      Family ticket (2 adults 2 children) £54.95
      Adult (15+) £17.50
      Child (3-14yrs) £14.00
      Concessions (60+) £17.00
      Student (ID Required) £17.00
      Guidebook £4.25


      The prices may seem a little steep to some, however, do have a look around on-line for discount vouchers, as there are usually some good deals to be found. You can book your tickets on-line in advance to save a couple of pounds on standard tickets, and a massive £10 saving on the family ticket. Also you can skip the queues if you book on-line.

      It may seem expensive, however, it's not every day you come face to face with a giant see creature.


      >>> SEA LIFE Annual Pass

      Adult £30
      Child £25

      The annual pass allows you to visit any of the 11 Sea Life Centres and sanctuaries as many times as you like for a year, which is great value for money. In addition to this pass holders are also entitled to a 10% discount in the gift shop and cafe.

      The Sea Life Centre is also part of the Merlin entertainment, so Merlin pass holders are free to visit anytime.

      Open Weekdays 10am - 5.00pm
      Weekends 10am - 6.00pm


      >>> Conservations

      All of the Sea Life Centres enthusiastically support various aquatic conservations such as, the turtle and otter rescues, as well as this they actively promote awareness and protection of other endangered marine species. Alongside this each of the centres specialises in the breeding of one or more of these endangered creatures, currently the Birmingham centre is active in breeding various turtles, and they have become a subsidiary breeding ground for seahorses, in conjunction with the Weymouth centre.


      >>> Adoptions

      You can adopt an animal for just £25; creatures that are up for adoption include the sharks, giant sea turtles, otters, and even the residents of Nemo's Kingdom. The adoption is for one year, inclusive of this one off fee you will also acquire a cotton Bag, presentation folder, stationary, a cuddly toy of your chosen creature, a complimentary ticket to visit any UK Sea Life Centre, information and updates on your adoptee, and a personalised e-certificate. This would make a lovely gift.

      >> Address

      National SEA LIFE Centre
      The Waters Edge
      Brindley Place
      Birmingham, B1 2HL

      For more details you can visit their website, where you can also book tickets in advance and save yourself a few pounds.

      www.sealife.co.uk

      [Pictures on Ciao]

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        21.12.2010 15:47
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        a fun thing to do for a day for both young and old

        The Birmingham Sealife centre is in Brindly place, situated just of Broad Street, down by the canal and very close to the National Exhibition Centre. It is clearly signposted from many directions, but has no parking so you must park in nearby car parks. That said there are plenty around and many are only about a five minute walk.

        From the outside the centre looks incredibly small considering it houses marine animals, but once inside it is in fact larger than the impression it gives.

        On entering you go to the desk to pay. This is £17.50 per adult, £14.00 for children aged 3-14 years or you can buy a family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) for £54.95. There is an option to buy a year pass which gives you a considerable discount but is really only worth it if you are going to visit more the once/twice a year. You can also save slightly buy buying online tickets via www.visitsealife.com
        When it comes to the price yes I do think it is over priced. I appreciate they have to house, clean, maintain etc but considering the size of the centre I feel £ 10-£12 per adult would be more accurate, or if they are going to charge higher to indicate to people that a high percentage will go to conservation and how it will be spent etc.

        The sealife centres are a world wide group which uses these gigantic aquariums to teach the public about the creatures and conservation issues needed to protect them in the wild. A very worthwhile cause in my opinion. Obviously depending on which sealife centre you go to will depend on what creature you will see.
        Children are given a fact finder trail card, where they have to find answers to questions dotted around - in return they receive a small prize.

        The centre appears to be wheelchair friendly, slopes reach up to next levels with plenty of room for canoeing and lifts are available also. As you wind up the first slope from the entrance there are little fish pools and rockery type affairs with various tropical fish. As you et higher they turn into tanks with marine fish of wide variety. Each one has signs indicating which the fish are and descriptions of where they live and little facts. Moving around is a larger pool with sharks and fish which you can look at from above or crouch to see them underneath.
        Near to this is usually a guide on a rock pool. The guide tempts you closer to see crabs and starfish which you can touch. Children will love this little interactive bit.
        After this you go deeper inside and make you way through various areas with little windows into aquariums. Lots of tiny seahorses which are magical to watch. Some of these areas can be quite dark and I almost missed the electric eel as he was dark against the murky water.
        Threw what seems like a plastic curtain is a large pool with guides around it. In here they give talks about the numerous fish including rays which is very interesting and worth making the effort to listen to.
        Otter feeding demonstration time is another thing to enjoy for both adults and children where you are reminded about why we need to be more caring towards these creature to save them for future generations.
        One of the best bits of the experience is the ocean tunnel. A walk way through a underwater tunnel where the fish glide past you and over your head the hammer head sharks are amazing but the turtle is eye popping! He is massive I only glanced him out of the corner of my eye to begin with and thought I was seeing things! A truly beautiful creature.
        There is the 4D cinema experience too. We never went in this but our friend did and the older children really enjoyed it but the 4 year old cried when water was squirted around and I guess things look to big, real and scary to someone that size.

        Toilets are clean and tidy and there is a souvenir shop and food area. With regards to food personally it is a little over priced for what you get and would be better to try one of the many restaurants/eating areas available near by.


        Overall, it is a fun thing to do and has plenty of fantastic facts for both young and old to enjoy. One thing I will say is get there early - as soon as it opens - as about ten minutes after the school trips start and there are hoards of children making there way along and this does mean that sometimes there can be queuing. Regarding the price some friend of ours used there Tesco vouchers to get tickets, perhaps a cheaper option for the larger family.

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          01.11.2010 11:32
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          Recommended....but not during school holidays!!

          The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham is the largest centre in the UK, with a 360 degree tunnel, sea turtles and a range of sharks there seems to be something for everyone.

          **Queing and Admission**
          I visited the Sea Life centre during the October school holidays so was expecting to que for a short while to get in. When I arrived, the que was huge and I was slightly put off getting in it. However, my boyfriend talked me round and we jumped in the huge que. Suprisingly, we were only queing for 30 minutes before we were in and paying.

          Admission for an adult costs £17.50, which I think is a little pricey just to look at some fish. However, we had some Tesco 2 for 1 vouchers and discount vouchers can be printed off the internet for most times of the year. Also, I noticed that the Birmingham Central Library has a sign outside advertising discounts vouchers.

          **Attractions**
          The centre has a wide range of attractions, as with most of these centres, you start by looking at small fish in small tanks and sting rays in big tanks. If you have visited any other Sea Life Centre, you have seen all of this before.
          You will also find more exciting animals, such as jelly fish, sea horses and poisonous frogs.
          The centre has an otter sanctuary, here you can watch the otters in a 'natural' habitat and, at certain times, see them being fed. We came to the otter sanctuary around 2pm and they were sleeping, so we could not see them. However, we were advised that 3pm is feeding time and they come out then.
          The 4D cinema is probably one of the most exciting features of this centre. Sadly, we did not get a chance to visit this as the ques waiting to go in were so long we could have been waiting for up to an hour.
          After these, you go back to the same basic features, more small fish in tanks. Until you come to the 360 degree tunnel. I was quite excited about this as it was one of the main attractions on the advertisement. However, you only walk about 10 steps and you are through it, which was quite disappointing. In this tunnel you can see sea turtles, hammer head sharks and a range of other fish.
          The centre finishes with a mirror maze, which I was worried about as I always seem to get injured in these! The maze was surprisingly easy to get through but still fun.

          At the end of the centre there is a gift shop and restaurant. Sadly, the centre had been so busy the day that I visited that you could not move in the gift shop so we didn't have time to look around.

          **Staff**
          Whilst queing, there were several members of staff walking along the que. These staff members were having out cardboard shark hats and trying to keep the children in the que entertained. I found this quite interesting as I have never seen anywhere do this before and thought it was a great idea.
          All of the staff inside the centre were very helpful and gave you any information that you required. Also, the paying process was done very quickly so that they could get people in faster as the que was getting longer every minute.

          **Is it worth it??**
          I do recommend Birmingham's Sea Life centre as it was one of the most interesting centre's I have visited. However, I would avoid it during school holidays, and maybe weekends, as it was extremely busy and difficult to get around.
          As we did not take any children with us, we were happy to wait to look in tanks and take our time walking around but I can see a child getting very restless waiting to look at things for such a long time.

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            12.08.2010 19:22
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            A great day out for both the young and old.

            I went to the Birmingham Sealife centre recently and was very excited. I had not been since I was very little. I decided to go with a friend and when we got there, the queues were really long. So for anyone who is planning to go, I advise that you order your tickets online so that you can use the fast track service. It sure beats queueing for 10 minutes.

            As we were queueing to go in, I felt a little disappointed because it looked really small and I figured that we'd have been in and out of there in the time that we were queueing. But I was totally wrong. There was a lot more that wasn't visible to everyone on the outside.

            They also hold small talks every hour or so where you are given the opportunity to touch some of the sea creatures, which the younger kids seemed to love.

            The size of the place is incredible, and there are all sorts of sea creatures from sharks, to stingrays, to jellyfish. A truly unique sea experience.

            There is an ocean tunnel where you get to walk through and see the sea creatures swimming above and around you. It really is quite breathtaking.

            There are usually opportunities throughout the day to watch a member of the Sealife centre feed some of the sea creatures, although by the looks of the latest daily activity programme, most of the feeding sessions are for the otter.

            There is now a 4D cinema there which I think is relatively new. They show a sea life documentary. The 3D effects are amazing, and the added 4D element makes it a whole lot of fun, from having water sprayed into your face to feeling your seat begin to shake. Having said that, due to how real it all looks, I do think that they should have some sort of warning displayed outside to alert parents that it may not be suitable for kids. There were a lot of tears in that screening, not that I'm surprised, I was a little taken aback by it at times but it was amazing.

            When I went, there was a fact finder trail, if you answered all the questions correctly, you handed your marksheet in at the end and got yourself a prize.

            At the end of the journey, there is a gift shop for you to purchase souvenirs. There is quite a selection: keyings, cuddly sea animal toys, pens etc.

            I believe that you can get an Annual Pass there, costing £30 for an adult and £25 for a child (ages 3 to 14). This pass entitles you to 20% off at the gift shop, 20% off hot drinks in the cafe, a half price guide book, and £5 off entry to York and Edinburgh Dungeons. There are also special activies at the sealife centre which are for Pass holders only. Personally, I don't think it's worth it because the Sealife Centre is one of those places where you only want to go once a year. But if you have young kids then a pass may be worth it.

            I recommend the Sealife Centre and please bear in mind that it is a lot bigger than it looks because most is hidden away. A day that is totally worth it.

            £17.50 for an adult.
            £14.00 for a child.
            £17.00 for senior citizens and students (with NUS card shown)

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            05.08.2010 13:34
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            not a day trip only a few hours, would be costly to take the whole family

            I am 27 years old but love going to places like the zoo as I do find them very interesting even though they are mainly aimed for children! We decided top visit the sea life centre as neither of us had ever been there before.

            They is plenty of available places to park around the centre and it is situated quite near the NIA. We didn't even use a sat nav as it was so well sign posted.

            My first impression when we went in wasn't the best as it looked quite small, but we asked the lady behind the paying desk and she said there is a lot more. Off we went into the centre and to begin with was mainly plants and a few small animals, we followed the trail and realised there was more to it than whet we could see.

            There is a wide selection of sea animals but a lot of them couldn't be seen as they were either hiding or asleep (otters).

            It only took us about 1 - 1&1/2 hours to walk round and towards the end we were getting quite bored!

            I think you should get more for your money and thought the centre would be a lot bigger and have more larger sea animals. I am a big animal lover but wasn't excited much by the visit.

            There is a good gift shop at the end which is quite reasonably priced.

            I don't think I would go again paying the same price! was a bit dissapointed.

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            10.07.2010 21:06
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            A great family day out but get your voucher to get the best prices

            Sea Life Centre, Birmingham

            Our grandsons have so many relatives as they have three sets of grandparents, two great grandparents as well as five uncles/aunts and their partners so they have so many toys that they can barely get into their play room and their garden rivals the local nursery for outdoor toys. One year we gave them a wooden fort which my husband built in their garden, another year we took the whole family on holiday to Crete (all their birthdays and Christmas presents that year) and this year we decided that we would take the boys to Sea Life Centre in Birmingham as their present. We also give them a small present on their actual birthday so they have something to open.

            We collected both boys at 9 am and drove the hour and a half to Birmingham so we were there about 10.30. We parked the car in the car park at Brindley place and Sea life was just a short walk from there. If you buy the tickets before hand on the internet they are a little cheaper but I had bought a voucher for a free child if accompanied by a full paying adult so we bought our tickets on the day from the ticket desk. Each adult was £17.50; if we had not had the vouchers the boys would have cost £14.50 each as well so this is not a cheap day out. I got my voucher for 99p from Ebay so if you are thinking of going to any of the Sea Life Centres then I suggest you plan ahead and look for some sort of discount voucher or you will be paying out a lot of money.

            Money paid and tickets received we were handed a map and two children's quiz sheets , told that we could come and go at any time during the day but we must get our hand stamped so we could get back in. The boys were very excited and desperate to get going so we headed off through the path to the first tall aquarium with colourful coral and two different huge eels poking heads and tails out of different pipes. We then galloped off at speed to the Shark Lagoon on the next level which had some rays and small sharks as well as other large fish in it. The tanks are very cleverly done as you can clearly see the fish through the glass and they are all at a height that children can easily see.

            The next excitement was a rock pool with a member of staff there to talk to people and allow the children to hold/stroke a crab, touch a sea anemone, hold a mermaid's purse ( a ray's or shark's egg case). There is a sink and soap just beside for you to wash your child's hands after they have paddled around in there.

            Next we visited Nemo's Kingdom where tropical and coral dwelling sea animals were in various tanks. The fish were lovely bright colours and the star fish also quite vibrant and we saw then moving too. By this stage we had reached question 2 or 3 in the quiz and we were duly scratching off the right/wrong answers.
            There were about 20 different areas if you count the inevitable shop, the cafe and the soft play area so I won't go through every one just those that were highlights for us.


            High notes;

            The sea dragons and sea horses were delightful. The sea dragons only arrived from Australia in May this year so are a very recent and quite special addition to this centre. They look like mini dragons and swim a bit like sea horses.

            The Ocean tunnel where you walk through the aquarium and have enormous sea turtles, hammer head sharks, rays and other huge fish swimming beside above and below you is the closest I will ever get to scuba diving. You felt like you were under the sea without the wetness but the fish were everywhere you looked, the boys were quite impressed with this, as indeed were we.

            The otter Sanctuary where the otters could be seen from inside through a window and then you could go outside and watch them in their mini river through the glass if you were a child or as an adult you could easily see them over the glass as it was only about 3 foot high.

            The Mangrove Swamp where we saw the brightly coloured poison dart frogs that were so tiny, perfect and such stunning colours that they looked like toys or ornaments rather than real frogs. Some were bright yellow and black, others pale and albino looking, others blue and red and all so tiny.

            My husband particularly liked nautilus the huge sea snail that was with the rock lobsters but I'm not sure the boys realised what they were.
            The Bay of Rays tank with the rays and skates was most entertaining as they swam right up to the glass and appeared to look straight at us. By now we were up to about question 6 in the scratch off quiz but the boys had lost interest do hubby and I were doing it for them!

            A high point for the boys was the soft play area which had a ball pool and the usual soft play stuff in a netted cage. The shop was also very interesting to the boys (enough said!)


            Low points;

            From our point of view the soft play area was a low as the tables and chairs were a bit grubby. This was an area you could sit in to eat your own food and there were vending machines with drinks and ice creams. It had a slight 'eau de pied' about it and was just manky looking. I was pleased that we had decided not to bring a picnic in the end as I didn't fancy eating anything there at all. The toilets were close by and you could tell. There was a lovely big window looking out onto the canal area but despite this it still felt dismal and dark and smelled pretty unpleasant.

            The shop which unfortunately was near the cafe where we had our lunch and we spent quite some time being pestered in there.whe we insisted on seeing the rest of the fish areas before buying anything our youngest grandson then grindged his way round trying to negotiate a toy which slightly took the edge off. However the older grandson who is the real animal lover still enjoyed the rest of the visit as did little one once we got to the tunnel however we had to exit through the shop so there was no escaping! The shop did sell some quite nice plastic sea toys but they were not cheap so if you have a large family this does add to the cost of your trip. We got off quite lightly with a soft rubbery lobster at £3.50 and a shark head on a stick like the man at the photo booth used for £2.50 I think. Anyway both boys were happy with they purchases.

            Another low point was the 4D cinema which we didn't get to see because we sat down in the chairs with glasses on and explained that the chairs might move a little and we might get squirted with a bit if water and first one, then the other child decided this was too scary for words and burst into tears so we left prior to it starting! Better that than having to leave half way though I suppose. It would have been a film about a sea turtle from hatching to its life in the ocean but another time maybe.


            Lunch in the cafe;

            The cafe was quite reasonable value considering the entry price. The children had a special aquarium lunch box with a sachet of juice, bag of Whotsits, an apple and a yogurt with their plate of sandwiches all for £4 which we thought was reasonable value. The adult meal deal was sandwiches, drink and a bag of crisps for $4.25 I think. It wasn't a huge cafe but we got a table for the four of us as someone else left. Service was quick and the staff friendly and asked if we were having a good day.


            The Quiz;

            When we got to the photo booth at the end of the 'tour' just before the shop we handed in the two quiz sheets which were collected by a toy shark and the boys were handed two medals to say they had achieved the quiz at the Sea Life Centre. They were really proud of their medals! It was a lovely idea for children and gave them a focus as they went round the centre.


            Conservation;

            The sea Life Centre is proud of its environmental programme and support of animal conservation. In the last few years they have supported the EU cuts in fishing quotas in 2005. In 2006/7 they had a fundraising appeal to support work with the Loggerhead turtle nesting and sea turtle rescue on Zakynthos. Most recently they are concerned with the plight of whales and dolphins so are working with the WDCS ( Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society). My husband and I were most impressed with this work and it was obvious as we went round that the animals were being kept in very pleasant living conditions as all the tanks and habitats were so immaculately clean.


            Summary

            All in all we were most impressed with The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham. It was so perfect for children; everywhere was clean and well labelled with information. The animals all looked in prime condition and they were all easy to see through the glass. If we lived closer then we would certainly have thought about an annual pass as we would have visited more often and done some sections on each visit. The only area we felt was a bit of a letdown was the soft play area which had a really grubby air about it.

            Thank you for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.

            ©Catsholiday

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              08.06.2010 14:17
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              A must see atraction in Brum.

              In the past, I have often visited Sealife cenres around the coast of Britain, in locations such as Great Yarmouth and Blackpool, but I was surprised when they opened up one in Birmingham a few years ago. After all, we don't exactly live by the sea! However, I do love visiting these places, and as birmingham is a short train ride away from my home in Walsall, it is a great place to take the family in the school hols.


              I never visit the sealife centre without some sort of vouchers. The prices are so astronomical, that we would be bankrupt! Luckily, many places give away vouchers, especially at school holiday times, and it is relatively easy to get hold of vouchers that offer free entry for kids with a paying adult. If you did want to go in without a voucher, these are the current 2010 prices:

              Adult 15+ £17.50
              Child 3-14 £14.00
              Senior 60+ £17:00
              Student £17:00

              There are other pricing options, such as combined entry to Sealife and nearby Warwick castle, or a Merlin annual pass, which gets you into all the main attractions owned by the company, such as Alton Towers and Waterworld. This would cost our family £480 for the year, so I think I will stick to the clubcard vouchers, thank you very much! All the pricing options can be found on the website at www.sealife.co.uk, which also includes info on the other Sealife centres, both national and international.


              The centre in Birmingham follows the same basic layout as other centres. One warning is that it gets VERY busy on Bank Holidays and School hols, with queues stretching around by the canal in Brindley place. Usually they send members of staff out to appease the kids with stickers and sweets, but it can be a long wait, and very crowded inside too. It is much better to go on a quiet day if you can.


              The centre has lots of different exaples of aquatic environments, such as rockpools, coral reefs, mangrove swamps and undersea wrecks. The staff are very knowledgeable, and always on hand to answer your questions. They have presentations throughout the day, on subjects such as the stingrays or sharks. New for 2010 they boast a display of Hammerhead sharks. They have a colony of otters, and you can see Sea Turtles when you walk through the Ocean Tunnel.


              The Centre has good facilities, with a shop, soft play area, restaurant and clean toilet facilities. There is a 4D cinema, and when I last visited, the film was about the water cycle, although it may have changed more recently.


              Although people are drawn to the "Big" creatures, like the sharks, one of the most memorable things I saw was a display of jellyfish in a big tank. They had an almost hypnotic quality and were almost mesmerising to look at. I also loved the seahorses. The tank layout is really innovative, with walthrough tanks, giant tanks, and tanks with domes that you can pop your head through to really feel a part of things and see what life is like inside the tank. The encounters with the creatures are truly memorable.


              A visit to the Sealife Centre in Birmingham has something for everyone, from very young children right through to elderly ones. Due to the good central location, I try to go every couple of years to look at what is new, and my kids have been on school trips. A visit lasts on average, a couple of hours, so is ideal for a morning or afternoon out, but there is not enough there for a whole day out.


              OK, we Midlanders may not live near the Sea, but the Sealife centre is the closest thing we have! I think these places are beautiful, interesting and educational and the staff seem to genuinely care about the welfare of these creatures, both in the wild and in captivity. I hope that they continue to be popular for a long time to come.

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                07.06.2010 15:36
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                See the sea life at the sea life centre. Try saying that quickly!

                The first time I went to the Sea Life centre in Birmingham was 15 years ago. I don't think it had been open for very long at the time. I do remember enjoying it, but my memories were clouded by it being a very hot day, and the centre was crowded. I hadn't been back since until this weekend, mainly because I thought that it hadn't changed much over the years and that at £17 per person, it was a lot of money for a day out. Some friends of mine had gone a few months ago and said that although it was good, it's not a full day out. Compare it to something like Warwick Castle, which is also £17 per person but has so much to see, you would struggle to do it in a day and the sea life centre quickly loses value.

                Saying that, we had relatives staying with us and we wanted to take them somewhere local and interesting. My mum found a 2 for 1 voucher in the bottom of her handbag and so off we trotted. On a Saturday it opens at 10am and when we got there just after, there were already a few people in there. It gets very very busy at weekends and holidays so I would recommend anyone going does get there early. The tickets aren't time stamped, meaning there is nothing stopping you going in for a wander, leaving for lunch and returning, although to be honest, you probably wouldn't need to.

                With 5 of us and 2 vouchers, it came to £56, along with a guide book as well. My aunt snaffled the guide book but to be honest, I always find they are a bit of a rip off and rarely bother. At the counter the girl serving us was lovely, really friendly and helpful. After my mum had paid, we were taking photos by a picture of a fish (yes, we really are those tourists that have already racked up lots of photos before even entering the building), and the girl offered to take one of all of us.

                The centre is very well laid out and one thing I noticed was how accessible everything is. The layout is essentially one big ramp that goes up to four different levels. At the top, you get a lift downstairs. It means that if you have a pushchair, a wheelchair, small children or someone who can't manage steps, there isn't a problem. All the tanks and displays are low down, so that children and wheelchair users can see into them. The labels on the tanks are large and bright and easy to read.

                There is a wide variety of creatures to be seen. They are divided up into sections and there are various themed areas. For kids, they will love the Nemo section - all the fish featured in the film are shown in tanks and information about them given. There is a section on rockpools, and whilst we were there, one of the staff was doing a demonstration with a crab, asking people to stroke him. Other areas features are tropical, Amazon, Coral reefs. There is a section on jelly fish - which was the only disappointing part as most of the tanks were empty due to repairs. My favourite bit was the Sea Horse. Due to the huge numbers of wild seahorses that are caught every year (either for the Asian medicine market or to sell as pets) they are becoming increasingly rare. The Sea Life centres have set up a breeding programme. One of the tanks had baby seahorses in them and I can't describe how amazing these tiny creatures are. I also saw the leafy seadragon, which is like something out of Harry Potter.

                Other highlights included the otters, and we were able to get there for the feeding (there are three feeding times a day) where a man gave us a talk about them whilst they were being fed. The ray tank is still there, which is one of the things I did remember from before. Sadly they no longer let you touch them but they are still fascinating creatures. One of the newest features was the 4-D cinema. The showings are every 10 minutes or so, as the film only lasts a short while. Apparently it does vary - we saw a film about a sea turtle. The film is in 3D and the 4D element involves things like being splashed with water, smells (although I didn't actually smell anything different) and the seats vibrating. It's a brilliant laugh -however a lot of the very small children didn't like it and had to be taken out. The final few sections are the turtle breeding section and then the glass tunnel you can walk through. It's not very long but there are lots of fish, and 2 giant turtles that swim above and below you. New to March 2010 are two baby Hammerhead sharks which swim in the tunnel. Once you come outside, you can have your picture taken with the tunnel in the background and purchase the photo as a photo, keyring or magnet in the gift shop. We each got a keyring as an inexpensive reminder of the day. To go with the hundreds of fish photos we took going round!

                After your photo has been taken, you go through a mini-atlantis section, which is mainly big statues of Atlantis related things, and a hall of mirrors where you have to find your way out. At the end is the gift shop... hooray.

                At the gift shop there is also a cafe, although we didn't explore that. In total we spent 2 hours in the centre, and we stopped at every exhibit and walked slowly.

                I have to say I really enjoyed myself - and I actually learnt things, so the day was not wasted. It really had changed since I was last there and so I felt it was well worth it.

                I would recommend people to go, but make sure you get a money off voucher for the entrance fee.

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                  05.04.2010 00:15
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                  A great day out

                  My fiance and I visited the centre on March 7th 2010 as I had received a 2 for 1 voucher with my latest Tesco Clubcard statement. The centre has it's own parking a short walk away which you have to pay for, we managed to park in a residential side street free of charge.

                  The queue was ominously long when we arrived but the staff were efficient and kept it moving so in the end we only queued for around 15 minutes - it wasn't too bad. Once we'd paid we made our way up the ramp past a lovely big tank of fish and coral towards a tank filled with sting rays and sharks. Opposite this tank were little rock pools where the staff were giving a talk on rockpool creatures - I got to stroke a starfish and hold a crab!

                  The format is a bit hazy after the rockpools, but the centre is spread across a few floors and much bigger than it seems from outside/the bit when you first enter.

                  There is a 'Nemo's Kingdom', featuring many of the fish from the film Finding Nemo, I thought this was a nice little themed area that they had done well with (I may be biased though as Finding Nemo is one of my favourite films).

                  There is a UV area which had tanks of jellyfish - these were nice big tanks and the jellyfish were very easy to see, I could have watched them for hours, they were fascinating.

                  There is a large room with a large pool with glass sides and a viewing balcony above it full of stingrays and other fish - this pool was massive! One of the biggest there!

                  There is an Amazonian area with lots of nice pools and some really large fish - I found this area really aesthetically pleasing. I thought the information they had on the plaques on the walls was really interesting but also simple to read and understand, I defintely learnt a bit.

                  There was an otter enclosure - this was great, they were sweet little things. There is also an otter feeding which is good fun to catch.

                  We saw a 4D film about a turtles life, this was ace! It included bubbles being blown across the audience, we got sprayed with water, the seats shook during moments of peril and you even get poked in the back by an eel at one point! It was only 8 or 10 minutes long too, so good for little ones with short attention spans.

                  There was a mirror maze area which you (seemed to anyway) had to go through to progress to the next area which I found slightly annoying and pointless.

                  There was a walkthrough tunnel, where you walk through the middle of a big tank surrounded by water. The walkthrough tunnel was brilliant. I could have stayed watching the giant turtle swim around me for ages - I did stay for quite a while. There were other fish in the tank too, not just the turtles.

                  There was a little area for turtles. I didn't get a chance to read the literature on the wall in the area, but the gist was the centre was some sort of special breeding centre for turtles, I believe. There were lots of tanks with lots of different turtles in this area and lots of information about the different types of turtle and how they breed.

                  There is a cafe on site which we did not eat in so I cannot give an opinion on that.

                  Overall we both found it a great day out. The staff were helpful and friendly, clearly enjoyed their jobs and obviously cared about the animals. I am always dubious when it comes to animal tourist attractions but I think the centre has been done really well, nothing looks run down and the animals all seemed happy and well cared for.

                  I would definitely go again even without the 2 for 1 voucher.

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                  28.02.2009 20:58

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                  Worth a visit if you have any discounted tickets/offers.

                  This particular sealife centre is based in Birmingham, and isn't too far a walk from the train stations. Although the actual building itself isn't too bad looking, the surrounding area looks run down and dated. The centre itself is quite small, but does have a reasonable selection of animals to view. These include various fish , small sharks, sea horses, crabs, giant turtles and otters. The journey around begins by gradually leading you up the different floors until you reach the top. There is then a lift which takes you down into a section where there is a large see - through tunnel to walk through. This is particularly good as you feel you are amongst the animals.
                  The staff there are very helpful and informative, and with certain animals will let you touch and hold them (great for kids).
                  There is a cafeteria on site, along with a few picnic tables (though not many). There is also a gift shop and childrens play area, and at times staff are on hand to get involved with other activities such as face painting.
                  The main disadvantage is the admission price - it is very expensive (even for children). You definately need to make the most of any 2 for 1 tickets - though luckily these are fairly easy to come by.

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                  27.09.2008 21:13
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                  Worth a visit but only with a 2 for 1 voucher

                  I went on a visit to Birmingham Sealife Centre last week for my birthday with some friends. I love fish and aquariums so was really looking forward to going. I'd previously been to the centres in Great Yarmouth and Scarborough but not for a number of years.

                  Firstly, the prices shown about on here are very out of date. It's actually now a massive £15.60 per adult to get in, although I had managed to get a couple of 2 for 1 vouchers for us which made it a little more reasonable.

                  First impressions of the place for me were that it was quite small compared to ones i'd been to before. It's a very compact building on about 3 floors. There are ramps all the way up but these are quite steep and there is not a lift from the bottom to the top at all.

                  As you go in you pay at the desk. You can book tickets online and get a fast track entry but when we went it was extremely quiet anyway so was not a problem. There is a cafeteria selling very reasonable sandwiches, paninis and the like. It was refreshing to go to a place like this and not feel we were being ripped off for a drink! There is also a small gift shop where you can buy something to remind you of your trip!

                  When you start the walk up the ramp into the aquarium, there are a few tanks of various sizes with different types of fish, lobster, coral and some rays as well. There is a shark tank which is fairly small and shallow but has a few different varieties of shark in there and some rays. There isn't a massive amount of room for them and to be honest I thought they would have made more of a feature of it. The shark feeding 'show' was dismal. It consisted of a man throwing in pieces of fish which the sharks weren't interested in and we were listening to a bloke talking to us all like we were 5 years old despite there being knowone under 20 in there!

                  After the sharks you move into an area with more aquariums with various fish an coral as well as another large tank with more big rays and fish in as well. There is also a little section for jelly fish which are quite interesting to watch.

                  You then move passed the sharks again on a ramp up to the otter sanctury. There are windows for you to look at the otters in their recreated natural habitat. It is a very big area full of logs and bark for them to play with and in. There are pools for them to swim in and shells and stones to play with as well. All of the otters are female. There is then an area outside in the picnic area, where there is an ice cream kiosk. The otters can come outside here and this is where they were fed. The otter feeding was marginally more interesting than the sharks. We were actually given some interesting information on how they live etc and they were fed in a more entertaining way.

                  After the otters, which are on the top floor, you enter the Amazon section. Here you see a tank full of paranas and various tanks of spiders, poisonous frogs and toads and then move into the turtle area. There are a few tanks with different varieties of small turtles to look at.

                  From this point you get a lift down to the ground floor where the tunnel is. The tunnel though small is a fantastic place to see. There are more sharks and some enormous turtles smimming around with a variety of large fish. You can view them through windows before walking through the tunnel where you are completely surrounded by water. You could spend hours watching the animals swimming around you. It's extremely relaxing!

                  To finish your visit you enter the mirror maze! Just make sure you don't rush through it or you will bump into the glass! The kids would love this bit i'm sure! You then exit through the shop and that's your visit over.

                  Though I enjoyed my visit I expected more. You would struggle to spend more than 2 or 3 hours there which is enough for most people, but for the price you pay to get in I think there should be more on offer. If you can get hold of the widely available 2 for 1 vouchers it's a bit better but I think full price paying adults would be disapointed. Kids will love this place but adults should maybe visit one of the bigger centres elseware in the country.

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                    15.08.2008 20:48
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                    Great amazing place

                    I don't normally like places where you just look at wild life, sea life etc. But this one was OK i quite liked it.
                    This is good for people of all ages, it has disabled access, but it is quite crowded at times.
                    The whole place is very colorful, and bright, which is great.
                    Also if you get a VIP pass you can go straight in with no queuing at the door. There a a few activities especially for the the little ones, such as: badge making and colouring.
                    The staff we're quiet funny there and were very entertaining, as when we arrived there were about 4 of them with a strong Birmingham accent bouncing on space hoppers.
                    There is a short walk through a 360 water tank full of big fish, which I found quite scary and you have to go through everything as its all on a walk through design.
                    The only down side of it is that its all walking.

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                    27.02.2008 23:03
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                    If you're looking for something a little bit different head to the Sealife Centre

                    A definite must see in Birmingham is the National Sea Life Centre. This is where children and adults living in the landlocked Midlands can see some of the creatures which live in the various seas touching the UK, and also from further afield.

                    From the outside the building doesn't really look big enough to house it all, but when you go inside you'll see that looks really can be deceiving. It's absolutely huge with a massive foyer where you pay your admission and stairs leading up towards the display tanks.

                    Once you've paid in you're free to wander around to your hearts content. There really is a bit of everything in here; from some of the smaller shark species to seahorses and turtles.

                    My eight year old particularly loves the clownfish and every time we visit she has to spend some time watching 'Nemo'. These cute little fish are part of the Totally Tropical display which also includes a selection of rays, sharks, barracudas and loads more. The best thing about the Tropical display is after looking in the various tanks you can walk through a glass tunnel where the beautiful (and sometimes downright scary) fish will swim on either side and above your head. If you're not as claustrophobic as me (I can't stand this tunnel for more than a few minutes) then loiter around until a flatfish swims above you - their little faces on the underside of their bodies are brilliant!

                    A new display is AmaZonia, here they've recreated the Amazon river and rainforests where you can study electric eels, piranhas, revolting looking poison dart frogs and the less deadly catfish and others. A wonderful display, you feel as though you're really walking along this huge river and it's quite disconcerting how close to some of the scarier fish you really are - even despite being separated by glass! The kids loved this section and raced from side to side to make sure they saw as much as possible as the fish streaked from one end of the display to the other.

                    The Tropical Ocean display is definitely my favourite part of the Sea Life Centre. I adore turtles and here are some of the biggest sea turtles in the country, I can spend an hour in this section just watching them lazily making their way around the tank. These are kept with some small sharks which aren't a threat to the turtles; in fact the Sea Life Centre houses specific species together when they 'live' together in the open waters. This works brilliantly, and I've only heard of a couple of instances where a certain fish has had to be removed because it was being picked on by another.

                    There's much more to see at the Sea Life Centre, so much in fact that I simply can't get it all down into one review. I'd definitely recommend asking at reception for the various feeding times as this is great fun to watch the fish torpedoing to the top of the water when they realise it's food time. In particular the seahorse feeding time is brilliant, the Sea Life Centre is involved in a seahorse breeding programme and if you manage to catch one of the four times daily slots then you'll see the fascinating little creatures in all their various stages of development.

                    At the moment the Sea Life Centre have slashed their admission prices with an adult ticket being reduced from £11.50 to just £6.50, and a child's ticket now costing just £4.50. There's no family ticket available now so for a family of four you can expect admission to cost £22. This sounds a lot, but there really is so much to do that it's well worth the money and you can easily spend a whole day here just observing the fish and other sea creatures.

                    When you've seen everything you can visit the fantastic gift shop which is located just before the exit. Here you can buy cuddly toys, books about sea life, dolphin shaped magnets, tea towels etc... In fact there's anything you can think of as long as it's decorated with fish! Prices are quite reasonable in the gift shop; as a brief example I bought two personalised dolphin badges, a soft Nemo, two holographic notebooks and a set of pencils and rubbers for the children and this totalled £14.76 when I reached the checkout. Not bad considering the same haul in Cadbury World would probably cost in excess of £20.

                    There are a couple of cafes where you can stop for a quick coffee or sit down for a full meal, these are very pricey though and it really does make sense to stash a few snacks in your bag and eat at one of the nearby Broad Street restaurants when you've finished your visit.

                    The Sea Life Centre is fully accessible to both people in wheelchairs and families with pushchairs. The aisles between the tanks are extremely wide and lifts are available to get you between the floors avoiding the rather steep stairs. It is a long walk around the centre though, so if you have mobility problems bear this in mind - my asthmatic mum finds the walking here too much for her even when using the lift instead of the steps.

                    The Sea Life centre opens each morning at 10am with last admission being 4pm, be prepared for queues if you arrive just after opening time as the admissions kiosks tend to get busy until around lunchtime when the it eases off.

                    There's no car park at the Sea Life Centre, although you can use the Brindley Place pay and display car park which is located roughly a two minute walk away. If you're coming by car, head into Birmingham City Centre and follow the numerous signs for the Sea Life Centre. It's easier for me to say this than to give you the directions as the Centre is brilliantly signposted and you really can't go wrong once you've spotted your first sign - then you just follow them like a trail.

                    If you're visiting by train you can get off at New Street Station or Snow Hill Station, with both of these options being a 15 minute or so walk through a pretty part of the City Centre again following the Sea Life Centre signs. You can get loads of buses along Broad Street from all over the City; probably the best one to get is the number 28 which you can either catch in town or from the South and East Birmingham areas. This bus will drop you at The Brasshouse (a posh Broad Street pub) and from here the Sea Life Centre is a two minute walk through the canal section.

                    The National Sea Life Centre
                    The Waters Edge
                    Brindley Place
                    Birmingham
                    B1 2HL
                    Tel: 0121 643 6777 or the 24 hour information line is 0121 633 4700

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                      19.01.2008 13:23
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                      After a poor experience at the Blue Planet Aquarium early last year, when my new fella suggested to take me to the Birmingham Sealife Centre on our first date I agreed politely because it was nice to see someone actually trying to make an effort and do something a little bit different for a change instead of the old ..let's go for a beer!!

                      The Birmingham National Sealife Centre has been open since 1996 and as we all know there are many of these across the country and also across Europe too, although I had never actually been to one until now. The Sealife Centre itself was first established in 1979 and opened its doors to the first aquarium in Scotland. At that particular time they open had the like of tropical fish, however of the years, the company has seen improvements and new additions to the various sealife centres.

                      To me this wasn't just a normal day out and I was really looking forward to going and was a little bit apprehensive because of the situation, it being a first date and all that. Upon arrival, we didn't have to queue at all, we walked straight up to the kiosk. Admission was £14.95 each I think for adult's in which he kindly took care of To be honest I thought this was a little expensive. Having been to the Blue Planet, which I have also reviewed that was £10 and I didn't rate it value for money at all.

                      The layout of the sealife centre is excellent, a lot easier to get round and I felt that this was much better and I didn't seem to miss anything. It is ideal for kids to see the like's of Nemo, as I am sure they are all familiar with after the film, Finding Nemo. Not only do they have many tanks with various forms of tropical fish in, there are a lot more attractions at the Sealife Centre.

                      One particular that I did fall in love with had got to be the Otters. They have quite a big area for the Otters, not many of them in there, however they seem to be friendly little creatures and very playful. I spent quite a while just standing looking at them play and had to be dragged away in the end. Haha.

                      There is huge aquarium for sting rays that are absolutely huges and a fascinating to watch just swimming around. Also there is a tunnel that you can walk through, which I don't think they have these at all of the sealife centres. Every hour or so a guide will come into the tunnels and give you a talk on the various species that they have that you can see in the tunnel including sharks and various other forms of fish.

                      There are areas for turtles and sea horses whcih are an extremely weird however cute looking creature and I enjoyed every single minutes of it.

                      New for that year, they had introduced a mirror maze, which is fantastic for kids as you haven't got a clue whether you are going to walk into a mirror or whether you can go straight forward. Haha. Entering the unknown, I didn't realise what it was and I was definitely not going to make a fool out of myself, I found a way in which you could tell whether you could go straight forward by the markings on the floor. Phew!

                      The eating area was pretty small so we didn't indulge in anything they had to offer. I taken taken for lunch somewhere nice instead.

                      It took around 2 hours to go around and spending plenty of time at the various attractions. I had an extremely enjoyable day out and I am so glad that we went.

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                        19.08.2007 14:20
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                        Why was I charged extra £10.00

                        Even though I did enjoy the experience of the Birmingham Sea Life centre which we visited on Saturday the 17th Ausust 2007,I was very suprised to find when I examined my receipt later at home that I had been charged £10.00 for two vouchers I didn't ask for on top of the £64.90 entrance fee. I have tried to contact the centre by phone to query this but to no avail.Has anyone queried this charge and if so what was the reponse.

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                      • Product Details

                        The National Sea Life Centre takes visitors on a spectacular undersea voyage with over 60 displays of freshwater and marine life, creating a wonderland for visitors of all ages. The attraction boasts an enormous one million litre ocean tank housing giant green sea turtles, black tip reef sharks and tropical reef fish. All this in addition to dozens of other spectacular displays featuring otters, seahorses, crabs and lobsters, sharks and sting rays, guarantees a memorable experience for every visitor.