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“Poor value, crowded and uninspired” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Sea Life Manchester

Sea Life Manchester
Barton Square | The Trafford Centre, Trafford M17 8AS, England
0871 221 2483
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Ranked #9 of 13 things to do in Trafford
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Attraction details
Owner description: SEA LIFE Manchester Aquarium transports you into the amazing underwater world. Prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays and powerful sharks. With an amazing ocean tunnel, 30 display tanks and more than 5,000 sea creatures the aquarium is the perfect stop for family fun! To get any closer you would have to get wet!
Manchester, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Poor value, crowded and uninspired”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013 via mobile

Had an offer and thought this would be a good trip-even with offer it wad still £32 for us. My girls whizzed round in under an hour stopping only to stamp their books. It was crowded and quite unimaginative. AVOID and save your money. One of the worst attractions I've visited.

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Manchester, UK
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Packed in like Sardines”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

Where do I begin...? The whole experience was a disaster from start to finish. My fiancé and I wanted to pre-book the tickets online. After 3 attempts but being told each time the transaction could not be processed, we contacted the bank. It turns out Sealife HAD taken all 3 payments after all. Obviously a technical issue with the website. We then telephoned Sealife to be told it would take 7-10 days to be re-credited the money and, should we still want to visit today we would need to make a 4th payment over the phone. Not a great start.

When we arrived at the centre, the queue was an estimated 45 minutes. As we had pre-booked we were told there was a separate queue - great! we thought.... nope, still a 30 minute wait. Once inside and collected out tickets we found ourselves in yet another queue to get from the foyer into the actual building. As other reviewers have detailed, this is due to the staged "family photo's" occurring in the next room. This feels very forced, you are not asked prior if you want to take part and, although I'm sure you could say no, you would not get into the venue any faster if you did. A very awkward and frustrating part but no doubt a real money spinner for them. The next room we were "herded" into is the turtle room (no real turtles just projections onto the sand) for an educational talk on the subject. Once inside we were urged to "squeeze in", we literally were packed in like sardines! Now i'm sure for many adults and older children, the talk would have been very much of interest, but I have a 15 month old boy who didn't understand why we were stood in a dark room when he just wanted to run around and look at the fishes. Once out you are finally free to look around at your leisure, a privilege I would have liked from the start. There are a few tanks hosting a variety of fish, turtles, sea horses, jelly fish etc. If you have been to any of the bigger aquariums, you will notice how small this place is by comparison. There is a play area but, as it was over-run, we didn't have a look so cant comment. The walk through aquarium has a couple of smaller sharks, sting rays and a giant turtle. Quite Meagre. Onto the touch pool, things didn't improve. It was simply a lady with a crab in her hand. Yes, im being serious. Then, all of a sudden, your at the end and you realise that, whatever the main event was, you've seen it... Did anything make us say "wow"? No. Was it value for money? No. Would I go back? Absolutely not.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SEALIFEManchester, Public Relations Manager at Sea Life Manchester, responded to this review, August 14, 2013
Thankyou for your feedback, and we are very sorry your experience did not live up to expectations.

The popularity of Sea Life centres inevitably results in their being busy at peak times and especially during school holidays, and for those wishing to study every display carefully and appreciate everything it and its fishy residents has to offer, we know that large numbers of other visitors can be a distraction. That is why we recommend timing your visit, if possible, to avoid the middle of the day during these busy periods. Arriving soon after we open our doors, or late afternoon, will usually guarantee the freedom to explore leisurely and with relatively little disruption from other guests. If you are uncertain as to the best time to visit, by all means give us a call before you commit and we will do our best to help.

If you would like to discuss any other issues with us, please do call our team and we will do our best to help.
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Manchester
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Sea Life Manchester. A bit underwhelming. Three queues before you see a live fish!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

The entrance system is extremely annoying. One queue to buy tickets, then another queue to have your picture taken (saying you don't want a photograph doesn't get you past this queue), followed by another queue to see 'Turtle Beach' which is a display of hologram turtles. Three queues before you get to see your first live fish! Staff are enthusiastic and pleasant, young children will love it, but the prices are too high (cheaper to buy ahead online, although the pre-paid queue is just as long as the normal queue).
Paying extra for the 'Behind The Scenes' tour, isn't worth it. The tour promises going deep behind the scenes and that you can even help out at feeding time. What it delivers is entry to a very small smelly area where the fridges are stored and you can see where the water is pumped around and filtered. There was no mention of help with feeding fish and from the charts on the wall showing feeding times, these seem to be only every few days for most species. I would guess you would have to be lucky to book your tour at the right time.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SEALIFEManchester, Public Relations Manager at Sea Life Manchester, responded to this review, August 14, 2013
Thankyou for your feedback, and we are very sorry your experience did not live up to expectation. The popularity of Sea Life centres inevitably results in their being busy at peak times and especially during school holidays, and this can also lead inevitably to queues. We process every admission as quickly as possible and will even provide queue entertainment whenever practical, but our advice to anyone wishing to avoid queues is either to take advantage of the fast-track option detailed on our website, or time your visit to avoid peak periods and/or school holidays. We hope this information is helpful, but if in doubt by all means call us before your next visit so we can try and help yopu to avopid the crowds.
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Knutsford, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Do not waste your money! A health and safety hazard with lack of facilities”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

My friend and I took our children along to the Sealife Centre on Friday at the Trafford Centre. Granted it was the school holidays but having queued for 45 mins to get in i was hopeful there was plenty to do.... once inside it was cramped and very narrow... i had my 8 month old son and 4 year old so was using my pram.... 2 prams were unable to move around side by side and we were following a que to get around the attraction. There is no buggy park therefore other prams filled the walkways... but my biggest shock was the lack of facilities for anyone requiring a drink, snack, feeding a baby or even to sit down!!! There are no seating areas or a cafe. I found 1 bench outside the play area.... what would anyone do if they needed a sit down? The baby changing station and toilets are upstairs... erm how do i get up there with my pram? not the greatest thought out idea! And the 1 disabled toilet is downstairs but not suitable for baby changing.
My son required feeding and not knowing there was no cafe/ refreshment area initially I approached a member of staff 'Phil' to ask where could i feed my son and warm up baby milk... his rude response was 'we don't have anywhere, we are an aquarium not a cafe'!!! i was furious to say the least, so i had to take my 4 year old out of the centre and walk in to the trafford centre to feed him. The attraction lasted 1 hour 20 mins max and we were looking for things to drag it out whilst inside.
In my opinion it is a health and safety hazard if people cannot walk past you leisurely without there being queues or prams in the way... a wheelchair would struggle. A primary school class would be enough children to fill this centre alone! the fish tanks are small and very magnified and i was extremely disappointed with the whole day. my 4 year old daughter and her friend were so excited to be going but it was not at all what we expected. My advice to parents is don't waste your money and visit the blue planet aquarium instead!

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“To Expensive, To Small, Not Worth The Money”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2013

So overpriced, not worth the money, the place is so small, taking of the photo was awkward, you had no choice, and with children with us, it just meant more waiting
The Place felt cramped and crowded, the Sharks are small,
Should have read the reviews on here before we came,

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SEALIFEManchester, Public Relations Manager at Sea Life Manchester, responded to this review, August 14, 2013
Thankyou for your feedback. We welcome constructive criticism and always endeavour to learn from our guests' comments and make improvements where possible. We are sorry you felt the Sea Life centre was too small and the visit too short, but happily this perception is the exception rather than the rule. Yes, the attraction is compact by comparison with some, but we believe the ingenuity of its design and layout has enabled us to maximize the space and provide a substantial and absorbing experience for anyone willing to take the time to investigate thoroughly. We feature in the region of 5,000 sea creatures of more than 100 species, and the quality of the environs we provide both inside and outside the tanks is, we believe, second to none. But it takes more than a cursory glance to spot all our fishy residents and to appreciate their finer qualities. That is why we have friendly staff on duty to help point out the more elusive creatures, and provide a deeper insight into their fascinating lives. We hope you will visit again some time and make a more leisurely, more thorough exploration, perhaps seeking the help of one of our resident experts. If you do, we are confident you will change your opinion. Do let us know either way!
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