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Expensive, Dirty & Dangerous
Blue Planet Aquarium (Cheshire)
Member Name: northernlovely
Blue Planet Aquarium (Cheshire)
Advantages: Fun to go through the underwater tunnel
Disadvantages: Dilapidated, damp, dirty, bad cafe, not great loos, dangerous in places, expensive parking
I don't normally write travel reviews, but I visited the Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire last month and I was less than impressed which is a huge shame.
I don't live far from Cheshire, so I only travelled for about 30 minutes to Blue Planet Aquarium, and we went as a treat for our 2 year old who had recently had an ear operation and needed cheering up. I am not really sure if it worked... here's my review.
**Where is it?**
The address for your sat nav is..
Annoyingly, having stupidly assumed parking was free (it is in the retail park just next to it, and it is at the popular Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet two minutes down the road), parking is £3 and not reimbursed against the price of your ticket.
I thought this was a bit of a liberty given it's not that cheap to get in to Blue Planet Aquarium and the parking is only a bit of tarmac, not particularly nice and either not enough or no mother and baby spaces (ie, it was fairly quiet and we couldn't see any).
Blue Planet Aquarium is quite expensive for tickets at £14.75 per adult and £10.75 for children, however our two year old wasn't quite tall enough so was classed as a baby and went free. Just as well I suppose, but I wouldn't want to pay the £50 cost for a two adult two child family ticket.
We had a £2 off per person voucher from the back of an NCP car park ticket which softened the blow of the entrance fee / parking charge a bit, but overall it was starting to feel like we were always opening our wallets even before seeing a fish!
On entering the rather unspectacular main entrance (it looks a bit like a leisure centre), there is the entrance to your left, and the gift shop area to your right. To be honest it could do with a refurb.
Down one flight of steps takes you to the start of the aquarium experience with different tanks of fish and signs telling you about them (there are some ducks, too, much to my daughter's delight!). You walk through different tunnels, some with fish, some with ambhibians and some with insects. It's very hot in these areas and quite dark, and my little girl was a bit apprehensive, so if you have a child who is scared of the dark, I'd be cautious. There are lots of fish to see, and my little girl though she was clinging to me did enjoy watching them.
One area is a huge pool with surrounding rock pools and shellfish, it's very nice to look at and gets very busy when there are coach and school trips.
The main attraction however at Blue Planet Aquarium is the moving walkway which goes through a perspex tunnel over which is a huge indoor pond full of small sharks, ray fish and bigger fishes. It's lots of fun to go through and you can go through as many times as you like and take some amazing photos.
The main problem we had is that with the rest of Blue Planet Aquarium, apart from the walkway, is quite delapidated, feels dank and dark and really could do with a really good clean and refurb.
Yuck, we didn't eat here because we expected it to be expensive so we ate in a cafe in Cheshire Oaks first. I'm glad we did - though prices were about average (a fiver for a burger and chips) it was the most run down, dirty space I've ever seen. The food looked the cheapest of the cheap and the whole place was very sad.
Worst of all, we went to the freezer to get an ice-cream as it's quite hot on the underground part of Blue Planet Aquarium and my little daughter picked up a sharp screw that had come loose from the freezer and fallen out. That is SO dangerous, I shudder to think what would have happened if she'd have put it in her mouth, thank goodness us parents watch our kids like hawks - but that danger just shouldn't have been there.
We paid £3 for two ice lollies which went straight in the bin - they were very close to their sell by date and tasted stale, I have never tasted a stale ice lolly before but Blue Planet Aquarium managed to sell them.
There was a toy arcade machine in there with loose hanging electrical wires which I had to keep my 2 year old away from, and the rest of the 'features' (ride on toys, seating) were sticky and old / broken.
I don't recommend going anywhere near the cafe.
**Loos / Baby Change**
I didn't use the baby change after seeing the very basic toilets with wet floors and sporadically available loo roll. We weren't in there long enough to warrant risking changing her.
After 45 minutes you've pretty much seen everything and after an hour my daughter was positively begging to leave, so I can't recommend Blue Planet Aquarium at all.
Everywhere you turn there is a charge, parking, expensive entrance fee (for the size of the attraction), over priced soft toys in the gift shop, machines to slot money into everywhere. Even the staff looked ashamed when we asked if we could reimburse the parking (which you can do in most shopping centres for goodness sake!) and were told no.
The entirety of Blue Planet Aquarium is dirty, needs a good hoover / scrub and a refurb for the peeling paint, areas of dodgy looking damp and so on. It even smells fusty. As for the cafe, less said the better - if you don't want your child picking up screws which have fallen from the broken freezer or electrocuting themselves, stay well clear.
Overall we really were not impressed in fact we left quite annoyed at the price of it, it's only a small attraction, my daughter has genuinely been happier visiting a large Pets At Home store with it's huge aquarium and hey, it has bunny rabbits too! If the entry had been about £7 and free for under 5s then maybe just maybe Blue Planet Aquarium would be worth a look but at the prices it charges it just can't compete with similar attractions.
There is a new aquarium opening soon - Sea Life Centre in Barton Square in the Trafford Centre - free parking and lots of nice restaurants on it's doorstep, and you can usually find a 2 for 1 on the net. I will be visiting there - but I'll never visit Blue Planet Aquarium. It's overpriced, it's dirty and it's dangerous. The only (small) saving grace is the underwater tunnel which my little girl loved for the five minutes it takes but overall I just cannot recommend it and won't be visiting again.
Summary: Wait for Sea Life Centre Trafford - Avoid Blue Planet!!