Newest Review: ... because of this the pictures came out looking very dark. In previous sea life centres I have been to I haven't used the flash on my camer... more
Not a Sea-Life Centre I recommend.
Sea Life Centre (Brighton)
Member Name: kiss_me2070
Sea Life Centre (Brighton)
Advantages: near the pier, easy to find, parking very close
Disadvantages: not worth the money, dark tanks, poor layout, can't avoid some steps, expensive parking
The Sea Life Centre
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There are currently 14 Sea Life Centres in the UK and the one I am reviewing is Brighton. Brighton Sea Life Centre offers a wide range of different animals to look at. This particular Sea Life Centre has certain features and attractions that other Sea Life centres don't have. The Sea Life centre is only about a 40 minute drive from where we live so we were going to go early and make a good day of it. As well as watching and learning about the animals in the Sea Life Centre they have a new Octopus Garden, Glass Bottomed Boat, Interactive Rockpool, Feeding Demonstrations and a Cafe where you can purchase hot & cold drinks, snacks sandwiches and cakes. Although I have visited 2 different Sea Life Centres before I always find that they are always very different so I was looking forwards to visiting this one. There is parking at the sea life centre which is rather pricey at about £8.00 for 3 hours; how-ever there are other car parks which are approximately a 20min walk away, which is where we parked.
When we arrived at the sea life centre there were 2 separate queues, one of which was for pre-paid tickets which had been purchased online and another queue for people who need to purchase tickets. Although these were separate queues they actually went to the same till area which consisted of 3-4 tills where you purchased your tickets. After paying for your ticket and helping yourself to a map of the centre you walk past an area in which you can leave your buggies if you don't wish to take them with you. As it was half term week this area was really busy and there were lots of buggies there already. My younger nephew didn't want to get out of the buggy so we decided to take it with us.
Inside the Sea Life Centre
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When entering the areas which contained different creatures I was quite surprised at the layout. The first area is actually called Victorian Arcade which looks kind of old and has glass tanks down each side containing different animals. This area was quite large so we weren't really sure where to start. We decided to walk down one side and then do the other side afterwards. The glass windows to enable you to see into the tanks are quite big and there is a small wooden platform by each tank so smaller children can climb up and get a better look into the tank. The first thing I noticed about this area is that it was quite dark and the tanks were rather dark too. You could see various different fish in the tanks, how-ever not as well as I had hoped. I was planning on taking some pictures; how-ever they ask you not to use flash, so because of this the pictures came out looking very dark. In previous sea life centres I have been to I haven't used the flash on my camera but the tanks have been much brighter so I was able to get some good pictures. In this area were various different fish including Lionfish, turtles, a very large spider crab and more. The tank which had the spider crab was very dark which was a shame as I would have liked a decent picture of it. In the Victorian Arcade is also a cafe area with table and chairs so as you can imagine this area gets quite busy and rather packed. I personally thought it was a silly area to have a cafe and expected the cafe to be in a separate area. There was some information next to each tank about the creature in the tank, how-ever there wasn't as much as information as I had expected. This information was also quite low which was great for children to look at but not so good for adults.
Interactive Rock pool - This is in the Victorian Arcade and here you can see a wide range of familiar creatures such as crabs and starfish. You can even hold a grab or touch a starfish if you wish. The rock pool is open all day. This area sounded really good and I was looking forwards to maybe touching a starfish (I certainly wouldn't be touching a crab that's for sure!) I was so disappointed when I found this area which was a small round area which contained some sea urchins. I couldn't see any other creatures in here such as crabs. There was a few starfish which you were allowed to touch. I did this and was surprised that the starfish felt rather rough to the touch.
Ray Pool - This is also located in the Victorian Arcade and contains some rays swimming around. You can walk around the whole of this area and see the whole tank. You can also go up and see a view of the rays from above the water. I didn't do this as there were some steps and the area was also quite busy as well.
Ocean Tank/Auditorium - The only way we could find our way to this area was to go up and then down some steps. We were a little surprised by this considering that this it states disabled access is available in the sea life centre. We couldn't find any ramps to get to this area so it took two of us to carry the buggy down to this area. This tank is huge and contains various different sharks, fish and a huge turtle which you can see swimming around. This also contains the glass bottomed boat which was rather busy so we didn't go on it. This is apparently the UK's first glass bottomed boat in an aquarium which gives people the chance to see everything in the water. On the boat you get a snorkellers eye view of their huge turtles, tropical sharks and colourful reef fish. The glass bottomed boat does cost extra money that isn't included in the entry price to the aquarium. You cannot purchase these tickets in advance nor book a time slot to go on the boat. Tickets for the boat must be purchased on arrival at the reception. I personally didn't think this actually looked like a boat as it was very square shape & just went up to one end of the tank and back again. I'm not sure how long the ride is but it didn't look very impressive. In this area there is lots of seating and a lot of people were eating their lunch here.
Ocean Tunnel - This tunnel was a lot smaller than I imagine in width and in height. In you are a very tall person you would most likely need to bend down slightly in order to walk through here. There are wooden benches on the side so children can climb up and get a better view, this makes the width of the tank slightly smaller and it was so busy and compact in here that we just walked straight through. This area was also extremely hot as well. There are lots of colourful fish and different sharks which swim over your head though. This is actually the Ocean Tank above you which you will have seen from above where the glass bottomed boat is.
There are various other areas in the Sea Life Centre including Tropical Lagoon, Harbour, and Kingdom of the Seahorse. Although these areas contained a few different creatures they weren't that impressive. The area where they had the Octopus, although they had a good 3-4 tanks, there was only 1 tank with an octopus in which was rather disappointing. There was a small section with poison dart frogs in and other Tropical creatures. On the map we noticed there was something called Jellyfish Discovery and unless we somehow missed this area the only jellyfish we saw were in a small tank with a few coloured lights on them. There were more jellyfish in the other sea-life centres I have been to.
Meet the Octonauts
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During our visit here which was the Easter Holidays children had the chance to meet some of their favourite characters from The Octonauts including Captain Barnacles and Peso. You can join in the fun and activities with your favourite characters and even have you photo taken with them as well. If your children choose to join in the fun they can become an Octonaut roaming the ocean in search of adventure and fun. You can help take part in exciting missions and join in with the Octonauts activities. Children can take part in the Quiz Trail and will receive an activity pack and your own hat which you can take home with you. My older nephew wanted to have his picture taken with Captain Barnacles so we joined a queue to wait. There were at least 15 people in front and we still had another 30mins to wait. In the end my nephew got bored of waiting so we decided to leave the sea-life centre. I imagine a few people were frustrated by this as the queue for this actually blocked the views of at least 4-5 tanks so people who hadn't yet seen in these tanks wouldn't be able to see in them until the queue had gone.
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You can purchase tickets at the door on the day or you can purchase them online where you will save some money, because you are buying your tickets in advance. I would also advise to keep a look out in any newspapers as they sometimes have coupons and offers that you can use.
* Adult Ticket - £17.40 walk up price or £12.40 when booked online
* Child Ticket - £14.10 walk up price or £9.10 when booked online.
* Groups (10+ people) - £17.40 walk up price or £9.00 when booked online.
You can also purchase Birthday packages and a Sea Life Annual Pass which is valid for 12 months. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by and adult. Children under 3 and carers are both free entry.
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I was really looking forwards to visiting this Sea Life Centre after visiting various others in the country. I was unfortunately disappointed by my visit here and was unimpressed at the range of creatures here. The tanks seemed very dark to me which made it hard to try and spot some of the creatures and it meant that I couldn't get any decent pictures either. The Victorian Arcade is set out in a very strange way and you don't really know where to start. This area also looks rather old and in need to a good coat of paint and a good tidy. As the cafe was in this area it made it a little chaotic and rather busy and also very noisy, you could just hear an endless noise of other people's chatter. I was really disappointed by the rock pool as this was nothing compared to the one in Weymouth. The Ocean Tunnel was ok, but wasn't as spacious as others I have been too and there seemed to lack space in here due to the wooden benches that children can stand on. Although it states that this centre is suitable for disabled access we seemed to come across a fair amount of steps and couldn't see anyway other way to avoid them unless we happened to miss some ramps somewhere! I didn't think there was a lot of information about the different creatures next to their tanks which was a little disappointing as it's always interesting to learn about the creatures. Some tanks there wasn't any information at all just the name of the creature that was in the tank. Due to visiting here during the Easter holidays, it was of course very busy, how-ever I don't think this would have made nay difference to my visit even if I had visited here when the schools were back. In terms of value I don't really think it's worth the £17.40 for an adult ticket. In fact I recently visited the Portsmouth, Blue Reef Aquarium and thought this was much better than the Sea-Life Centre in Brighton and it only cost me £10.00 to get in. I won't be visiting here again and it's not really a sea-life centre that I would recommend to others.
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Sea Life Centre, Marine Parade, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1TB
Phone: 01273 604234
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm
Sat & Sun: 10am - 6pm
(review may also appear on ciao)
Summary: Sea Life Centre Brighton