Newest Review: ... Experience~ As we entered the Sea Life Centre, we were met with a brightly lit reception desk and to... more
We found Nemo!
Sealife Centre (Scarborough)
Member Name: FairyG
Sealife Centre (Scarborough)
Date: 25/06/09, updated on 25/06/09 (218 review reads)
Advantages: A pleasant day out with young children, whatever the weather.
Disadvantages: Parking fee. Expensive admission unless you book in advance.
The Sea Life centre is located at Scalby Mills in Scarborough and can be found by following the signs for North Bay Leisure Parks or Sea Life. There's plentiful parking outside, with a pay and display car park which overlooks the seafront. This cost us £3 for four hours.
It's a good place to visit whatever the weather, as it is mostly indoors. There are outdoor areas with picnic benches, where you can visit the otters, seals and penguins, which can be avoided if it's a rainy day.
It's open daily from 10 am to 4.30pm, with last admissions at 3.30. Admission prices at the gate are £14.00 for adults, £10.00 for children and £12.00 for concessions. However, you can save £5 per ticket by booking online, so it's worth planning in advance. We bought tickets at a good discount by booking at our caravan site reception, where we paid £8.50 for an adult ticket, and £25.00 for a family ticket for two adults and two children, which was quite a big saving.
~What's In There~
On entering the first things we came to were the shop and toilets, and stairs that go up to the café. Then we entered the aquarium passageways which we followed, viewing jellyfish, octopus, crabs, rays, sharks, turtles, fish and seahorses. The rays are amazingly graceful, and surprisingly nosey, as they kept coming up to the window as if to deliberately look back at us. There's also an underwater tunnel to walk through and a huge tank full of very big fish and an enormous turtle. Our three year old granddaughters spotted a fish like Nemo and went around shouting 'I found Nemo!' So now we know where Nemo is. Phew, thank goodness for that!
They were also very impressed with the jellyfish area, which is lit up with ultraviolet light to show up the jellyfish. They do look beautiful, and the girls were mesmerized, but part of the excitement for them was the fact that their clothes were glowing as well! Another highlight was the demonstration tank where a member of staff was taking out small crabs for the children to touch. One of the girls was quite enthusiastic about stroking the crabs, but the other one found the whole experience a bit too freaky and ran off shouting 'I don't like it!' Can't say I blame her, as I didn't want to touch them either. There is antibacterial gel available for hand cleaning afterwards.
There's also an interactive educational area for children with machines where they can press buttons that light up to show what creatures eat, or turn a dial to see a sea creature swim faster than a man. It's not very exciting. The real highlight of this area is the badge making table. Children can draw a picture and one of the staff will press it into a machine and make it into a badge, all of which is included in the admission price. My granddaughters really enjoyed making theirs and proudly wore their badges all day.
Whilst walking around the lower level you can step outside to the seal, otter and penguin areas. There are eye level tanks for the seals where you can watch them swimming past and also a seated area for feeding times. One mistake we made was not looking at the feeding schedule as soon as we walked in, and we missed the seals feeding time, which was disappointing. We did manage to catch the otter feeding though and all the children were entranced by the two cute little otters. There's an event every half an hour, such as turtle talks, seal, otter or penguin talks/feeding, and it's worth planning your tour around these so that you really get your money's worth.
For older children there's a pirate attraction with panning for gold at £2 extra in another building outside. There's also an ice cream stand with picnic benches. The downside with the ice cream stand is that it also serves people from the beach outside the grounds, so you can end up waiting a long time to be served.
Upstairs, it's possible to look down on the turtle tanks and listen to the talks about turtles. This isn't very exciting for younger children so we missed it out. There are also smaller turtles to look at in tanks upstairs.
This leads through into the café area, with a soft play zone for younger children. There are tables arranged quite near the play zone where we could easily keep an eye on children while having a much needed cup of coffee. The café sells a range of things such as cakes, soft drinks, chips and beefburgers, spicy chicken on a roll, tuna, chicken or egg and mayonnaise sandwiches, and also children's meal boxes. The meals weren't great value at around £6-£7 for basic burger and fries, and the portions weren't exactly generous, but the quality was acceptable, and I had a nice slice of Victoria sponge cake.
The café leads straight downstairs back to the toilets, shop and reception. The shop sells a nice range of sea creature toys and the girls found some wobbly jellyfish which they were delighted with and only cost £1.22 each.
As a treat for the children it was quite a worthwhile day out for the price we paid. We were there around three hours which is quite long enough with two toddlers, but you could easily stay longer if you attended all the talks and feeding sessions. Compared to The Deep at Hull, it's not so glossy or modernistic looking, and there aren't so many big creatures. It's also not so geared towards education. There's a somewhat tatty look about it in places, especially the café, soft play zone and educational area, but the café and toilets were quite clean looking and respectable. However, if you're on holiday around the Scarborough area it's definitely worth a visit, especially if you can book discounted tickets in advance.
Summary: Worth a visit if you're in the area.
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