“ Odyssey / Abercorn Basin / Belfast „
Recently we decided to take our daughter for a day out when we were both off work for the day and went to W5 in Belfast, based in the Odyssey Arena, not far from the new Titanic Quarter opened in the city. W5 has been around for quite a while now, and this was our second visit since my daughter was born. W5 stands for 'who what where when why' and is really a place for all the family to visit. It is a science and discovery centre and is a popular place for school groups. There are over 250 exhibitions, as well as shows, demonstrations and seasonal events. At present there is a dinosaur exhibition where you can walk around lifelike large scale dinosaur models.
I must make it clear now that this is a review of the Level 2 under 8 part of W5 as that is really the only part we have ever visited, as it is the most appropriate to our toddler. Under three's are free of charge, and adults are currently £7.90. There are other family concessions and deals. There is a gift aid deal giving your some discount on purchasing food in the cafe (or shop). On our first visit we did avail of this and it was very good but on this occasion we didn't as we weren't looking for any food or gifts.
As you enter W5, there are some exhibitions on the ground floor, as well as a gift shop. One exhibition on the ground floor that caught our daughter;s attention was the hot air balloons. The experiment was related to pressure and when you got it correct, the balloon would rise up. To get to the main attractions there are stairs (which are musical - sounding a note with every step) or a lift, which has glass so you can see over the Odyssey arena as you move up levels. The part we wanted was on Level 2, where there is also an exhibition which is for older children.
We went for the other area of Level 2, designed for children under 8. This is literally a toy shop for children (and some adults like my husband!). There is enough here to keep a young child occupied for at least half a day if not more. There are some brilliant attractions including:
A life size supermarket shop - with little baskets, a till, lots of plastic fruit, veg, bread, meat etc so you can practice your shopping skills.
A lifesize cafe - with colourful tables (for the parents to get served), a till, pretend food, cutlery, trays etc.
A castle, where children can run in and out, wave some flags, chat on the TV to a friend.
Musical instruments - musical steps, a large guitar etc - lots of noise potential.
A music studio - practice with a pretend guitar, change the lighting, change the volume at the sound desk.
A full size mini car for children to get in and out of
A house, with a moveable crane, foam bricks, an upstairs
A rowing boat for children to sit in
A large doll's house with lots of wooden furniture
A large kitchen - with pretend food, utensils, sink, fridge, cupboards
A tiny tots area with cushions, books, bricks etc
A massive toy train set for children to stand and play with, adding and breaking up parts of the track.
A water area with plastic balls to put up suction tubes
The last of the these areas was my daughters favourite, although we went round most areas several times in our visit and it was only that we needed to go, rather than my daughter wanting to go that made us leave, otherwise we may still be there!
THere literally is so much for children to do, and I haven't even listed everything here. It will keep them busy for hours, and for slightly older children, there are some small exhibitions and experiment areas to encourage learning.
All in all, this really is a brilliant way to spend the day/ half a day, depending on the age of your children. THere is something for all ages and you certainly won't be bored. It will encourage learning as well as having fun.
My son is home educated so this is a regular attraction for us. I am thinking of just buying the membership as then we could go every week or so.
Age level : My sons are ages 5 and 21 months. There is plenty for both to due as well as demonstrations and workshops aimed at much older children.
Prices: £7.50 for adults, £5.50 for children, discounts available for groups and for home educators. Frequent visitors should get the W-5 card which is free and will give one half priced visit for every 2 full paid ones for each member of the party, as well as 10% off all merchandise and refreshments except of course the from the machines.
A good place to start is quite literally "start" on the 2nd floor. This has all the attractions aimed at younger children, from a house to build with foam bricks and slates, and then of course tear apart, to a waterway with balls, musical games, sand, large wooden railway, various toys etc... even a minature tesco to play shopping in. The fourth floor holds whatever the temporary exhibition is. At the moment it Wallace and Gromit and animation, and an exhibit on nature. The best ever was the dinosaur exhibit, sadly gone.
Most of the other attractions will also be on the 2nd or 4th floors. There are far too many too list, and some change anyway but here are some of our favourites:
The new interactive video agme of football, volleyball and recycling. We never did get the recycling one down, but football and volleyball are brilliant, even if you do look like complete idiots to anyone passing by as you leap and jump for invisible balls.
The bottle rocket, you just pump in enough air and watch it blast off.
The tornado maker - make a vortex of steam.
The pulley seats, pull yourself up using pulleys, or sit in them while Mom pulls you up.
Tug of war demonstrating leverage as one side pulls from the top of the lever and the other from the bottom.
An electronic harp with infrared light for strings.
Wooden tracks and loops for balls, which you construct yourself.
And soo so much more.
I'd also note that you are allowed to bring your own picnics in, which we do regularly as the food inside is quite limited, packaged sandwiches and cakes. You can always use the money save buying lunch for the gift shop which has a good selection from very cheap to quite dear educational toys.
"W5" stands for "Who, what, where, when, why?" or something to that effect. It is located in Belfast, and more specifically in the Odyssey pavillion, by the River Lagan.
Getting there is easy enough. It's only a 15 minute walk from the City Centre, or alternatively you can get a taxi.
Entry is £7 for adults, £5 for children and family tickets are available.
But i'm guessing what you're really interested is whether it's worth the rather hefty fee?
The answer, in short, is borderline. There are three levels of interactive exhibits, science displays, optical illusions and everything fun (and often not so fun) to a child. There is even an area specifically catered towards young children - meant to engage their senses.
In total, I reckon a family could spend about 2-3 hours (tops) in W5. The exhibits are nicely presented and laid out, but most only grab the attention of kids for about a minute, before quickly moving on. Some don't even warrant the brief stop.
It is definitely a nice treat and a pleasant visit, but if you have a large family i'd be wary of spending the vast sums of money needed to take them all. It is probably best if you are only taking one or two people, and certainly wise to avoid weekends or holidays.
In conclusion, just give a bit of thought to whether you want to spend the money going to something that will only hold attention for a short time, and that most people will walk away thinking "it was alright, but hardly awe inspiring".
Don't get me wrong, it's not bad at all - just not terribly special.
A great experience in one of Belfast's many entertainment hubs. W5 is a large exhibition in the Odyssey Pavilion, in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast which when finished will be located right beside the new Titanic attraction. It demonstrates science and technology for all ages to understand. Many of the demonstrations are great fun. Almost everything can be interacted with. It is a good family day out as it is easy to gain access to via the motorway and has a large parking area out the front which is pay to park. There are also a wide variety of food outlets to choose from before or after you visit W5 itself. W5 is spread across many floors with different areas of scienece and technology covered. W5 also frequently displays many temporary exhibits for a limited time, usually a month so every visit is likely to be a fresh experience. One of Belfast's premier attractions.
Who, what , where , when and why the interactive museum aka W5.
This museum if thats what you could even call it takes over the front left corner of the odyssey construction recently assembled along Belfast's docks close to the Samson and Goliath giant cranes around the Titanic quarter.
There are roughly 3 levels to this attraction which is promoted towards kids up to around the age of about 12 I imagine, there are also bars, restaurants, a cinema and and a concert hall in the odyssey building so I think it a great idea to have a family area too.
Along side W5 are a number of lecture theaters and open hall spaces where schools at A level and GCSE Geography learn about and carry out experiments and hypothesis on the current development plans currently taking place all around Belfast and specifically the titanic quarter.
Also many youth forums and groups use these areas for cross border debates and discussions such groups to give an example is the CLIC Sargent and CANTEEN cancer fund groups.
The main parts of the kids museum feature musical stairs, a small indoor play area for very small children, a souvenir shop (which is totally non profitable all proceeds go to charity) and media sections differentiating per floor.
One floor is pretty much dedicated to physical activities and there is an indoor tug of war game in which loads of kids an adults can participate.
The next floor is dedicated to blue screens such as those in films so you can make your own movies and special effects, there is also a stop start animation section in which you can make your own short cartoon sketches. When i was there last there was also a big section devoted to the new walace and gromit movie which was very interesting as well as other current animation techniques and movies being produced at the time.
The last floor is dedicated to music and the sense of touch, there is a string less digital harp for example and a hypnotic wheel.
Kids will love this, they can burn off so much energy here and although the place is not enormous it still can keep their minds active for a good few hours.
The last time I was there the place was really clean and in good working order, also the staff are very friendly and approachable which is always good.
Currently there is a great dinosaur exhibition on until October the 31st 2008, they move and growl and are fairly realistic, though it may scare some very young children. Though it looks quite fun!
W5 is open from 10am to 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 5pm on school days and only opens at mid day on a Sunday, last admissions are at 5pm sharp.
There is also a coffee shop directly underneath W5 which isn't overly expensive and sells soft drinks, hot drinks, sandwiches, soup and ice cream.
·Adult £7.00 = Euro 9.33
·Child* £5.00 = Euro 6.67
·Concession £5.50 = Euro 7.33
·Family 1 Adult + 3 Children £19.00 = Euro 25.33
·Family 2 Adults + 2 Children £20.50 = Euro 27.33
·Family 2 Adults + 3 Children £24.50 = Euro 32.67
·Family 2 Adults + 4 Children £29.00 = Euro 38.67
·Family 2 Adults + 5 Children £33.50 = Euro 44.67
Season Ticket Prices
·Adult £35.00 = Euro 46.67
·Child* £25.00 = Euro 33.33
·Concession £27.50 = Euro 36.67
·Family 1 Adult + 3 Children £95.00 = Euro 126.67
·Family 2 Adults + 2 Children £102.50 = Euro 136.67
·Family 2 Adults + 3 Children £122.50 = Euro 163.33
·Family 2 Adults + 4 Children £145.00 = Euro 193.33
·Family 2 Adults + 5 Children £167.50 = Euro 223.33
*A child is aged between 3-15. Under 3s get free admission.
The admission details are taken directly from thier main site
The venue also promotes kids birthday parties and recommends spending a minimum of 2 hours in W5 to get the most out of all its features. There are also regular drawing competitions for kids in certain age groups.
I only wish this was around when I was a kid my younger cousins love it, thanks for the read
Whowhatwherewhenwhy - Interactive exhibition. W5 is Ireland's only purpose-built interactive discovery centre at Odyssey, Northern Ireland's Landmark Millennium Project, in Belfast with 160 interactive exhibits in four dynamic exhibition areas and a changing programme of temporary exhibitions and events