We are fortunate to live near the Trafford Centre (well I think so, any opportunity for coffee and a bit of shopping) and even more so that we were recently welcomed to Sea Life Manchester, located there, for a family visit to review the centre.
The aquarium is a fairly new attraction which we hadn’t been to yet, but had heard positive things about. On entering, after a quick photo opportunity (which you have the option to buy later) there was a short presentation about sea turtles with some nice effects, and then you are free to roam the fairly compact, but well set out centre.
The kids were ooh-ing and ahh-ing immediately, it captured their interest and there were some nice touches with tunnels and holes for them to pop their heads into and have a good look at the fish, as well as some interactive areas. It was clear that Sea Life are focused on conservation, as well as providing us with an opportunity to see some amazing marine creatures up close.
There is an underwater tunnel where we spotted the centre’s young turtle. I didn’t manage to get a good photo of him unfortunately! So you will have to look out for him if you visit; he will apparently live up to 150 years old and double or even triple in size! There were small sharks and some rays swimming above our heads, too.
Another thing the boys loved was seeing the clown fish, like Nemo – unfortunately these little cuties were darting about too quickly for me to snap them without the picture looking blurred! You could get a good view of them if you could squeeze into this little tunnel though – a popular vantage point for all the youngsters in the centre.
The visit particularly appealed to our younger two sons, aged 5 and 8; they were thoroughly excited by everything they saw. They were able to touch a crab in the rockpool section and and also enjoyed a little climbing and fun in the soft play area.
Although there isn’t a cafe, there are vending machines for drinks and snacks in this section. The toilets were good too – always a plus when you are with kids!
The centre isn’t huge, but it was just enough for a nice family visit. There was information to read and absorb, but nothing too taxing when you have a child pulling at your hand to go see the next bit. All in all, we felt it was definitely worth a trip and you could easily spend a good hour or more looking at everything. None of us had a Sea Trek, but if you are more intrepid and aged 8 upwards you can experience a sea bed walk – we saw someone doing that while we were there.
The best value option for buying tickets is pre-booking online as you can save 50% (tickets from £8.25). If you are travelling from further afield and wanted to make a day of it, you can buy a combined ticket that gets you into Sea Life and Legoland which is also at the Trafford Centre.
We went in the morning during the Christmas holidays and it was surprisingly not too crowded, which was nice; I felt we had space to stroll and go back to look at things again.
At the end of your visit, you enter the shop which has a good selection of toys and souvenirs ranging in price, so you don’t have to spend too much to come away with something as a reminder of the visit.
Overall a very nice experience, somewhere our boys said they’d like to visit again, so thank you to Sea Life Manchester for having us and we would recommend it to other families.