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An Interesting Afternoon Out
National Space Centre (Leicester)
Member Name: DavyMichelle
National Space Centre (Leicester)
Advantages: Educational, Nice Displays, Great Theatre Show
Disadvantages: High Price, Not Enough to See and Do
The National Space Centre in Leicester is the largest UK space attraction according to their website. Be warned that the standard of competition is pretty low though! If you've got a child aged five years or more who is really interested in learning about space, then this is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon. If your child is younger than five, or not particularly interested in space, then frankly this place is a waste of a large amount of money.
With prices set at a staggering £13 per adult and £11 per child (aged five to sixteen), plus a £2 parking charge per car, this is not a cheap day out. The prices are for an annual pass, but realistically there is little reason why you'd want or need to visit this place more than once. It's not like they're constantly updating the information displays, and there's no real play appeal involved for the kids. But then I guess the people who set the prices knew that when they decided to make their tickets automatic annual passes, I think it's just a marketing ploy to try to soften the blow.
Inside the space centre, there's not a lot to see and do, but the displays are at least nicely presented with lots of soft lighting and child-sized bits of text dotted around the place. There are a few models of some of the planets (but not all) and each planet has it's own little corner in the centre to tell the kids a bit about it and show them a couple of pictures. It's all very asthetically pleasing, and young kids will hopefully pick up a few new facts here and there about space and the planets within it. I didn't feel there was much here for adults to learn though, and there was very little to do for children who cannot yet read independently. There are some touchy-feely bits and pieces dotted around the place, but not very many. There are also a few touch screen computers and TV screens included, but these are too complicated for young children to manage, and yet have fairly simplistic and uninformative for older kids to gain much from.
The thing we did really enjoy in here was the theatre show, and while we paid through the nose to see it, it was an enjoyable and somewhat informative experience. The theatre is a large dome basically, and the film is shown on a screen that goes all the way up and around the domed roof of the theatre (which is situation in the middle of the space centre). You feel like you're in a simulator as they show the film whizzing all over space, and while you don't actually move - you feel like you do. I found the show really well put together and accessible for a wide age group. Younger kids could enjoy the bright colours and pretty stars, along with picking up on a few key words from some of the speakers contributing to the film, while adults and older kids could take an interest in some of the brief but more indepth explanations offered throughout.
We enjoyed our recent trip to the National Space Centre, but I think they could do more to make this a day out for the family and justify the price tag. We got round the whole thing, including the theatre show and stopping to eat our packed lunches, in about two and a half hours. Like I said - that included lunch. The whole thing could be drastically improved with just a few simple additions, like a space themed play area for the kids, and a few extra, more indepth displays, to offer interest and education to older visitors. What's here has been done to a high standard, there's just not enough of it. If they lowered the price tag, or gave reason for people to make use of the automatic annual pass, then I'd feel easier about recommending the place. For now, I've got to go with an inbetween three stars though. We liked it, but we won't visit again unless they expand.
Summary: Recommended for Space Fans
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