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“Absolute waste of money!”

National Sea Life Centre
Ranked #24 of 283 things to do in Birmingham
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Attraction details
Owner description: Dive and be wowed by the many strange, beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep as you journey through the amazing underwater world of The National SEA LIFE Centre Brimingham. Prepare for astonishing close views of everything from humble starfish to tropical sharks. To get any closer you'll have to get wet!
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Absolute waste of money!”
Reviewed May 14, 2013

I was really looking forward to this - the website looked great! Parking in the recommended car park we has a choice of up to 3 hours or up to 8 hours. We chose 8 as 3 could be rushing our way around the centre. £6.50 for a whole day parking in Bhm though - not too bad. When walking up to the centre we thought it looked a bit small but it was so sunny and the canal looked stunning so we were optimistic!

Having prepaid online we skipped the cue with our £28 ticket for two adults. To cut a long story short, we had to sqeeze past buggies and step over runaway toddlers - expected really and we wouldn't have minded too much if we were getting our moneys worth. It was a cramped, more than over priced aquarium - and even that is an exaggeration. We have seen the same sea life in the local garden centre (for free). The best bit was walking through the tunnel with the fish above us - it was beautiful but it lasted all of 1 minute as we were practically pushed through by the number of people behind us.

After that we walked though a mirror maze - no sea life there just a waste of space! We were then directed down a stair case that was like a staff only area - flaky paint and dirty floors. Not really for the paying public to see.

We were out in less than an hour - completing wasting our car parking charge. We did make the most of the gorgeous weather in Brindley place but I was home doing the ironing before I knew it - so much for a 'day' out.

Visited May 2013
4 Thank MissRobs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
Hi MissRobs,

Thank you for your review. We’re sorry to hear you were disappointed with your recent visit.

Unfortunately the centre can be busy during holiday periods or weekends, particularly during peak entry times. To avoid this, we recommend visiting during an off-peak period or entering the attraction in an off-peak entry time (10am-11am or after 3pm).

We are pleased to hear you enjoyed our Ocean Tunnel; however we are sorry you felt you were rushed through. You are welcome to revisit any part of the centre at your convenience during your visit. The average visit duration is one and a half hours however this does depend on how long visitors spend at each display.

Thank you for your feedback regarding our mirror maze. We would like to clarify that there are three fish tanks situated throughout the mirror maze to help maintain the SEA LIFE theme throughout the attraction.

Once again we apologise for your disappointment and we hope that your next visit is more enjoyable.
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2,896 reviews from our community

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Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
469 reviews
151 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 396 helpful votes
“Good day out with our grandchildren”
Reviewed May 13, 2013

We visited on a cold and wet Saturday with two of our grandchildren and lots of other families had the same idea to escape the weather.
The centre is well laid out with a clear route through the exhibits. However, there are bottlenecks along the way and this leads to frustration amongst the very young. The place was also incredibly warm so everyone was carrying coats.
The place is ideal for children from 3 to 11 years old with a quiz sheet to maintain interest along the way.
Sea Life is pricey but you can reduce cost by prebooking on the internet or do what we did and order tickets in advance using our Tesco Clubcard points.
Overall it was a satisfying visit and I can see us returning in the future as the children get older.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank 99ray
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
70 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Excellent day out”
Reviewed May 11, 2013

We visited the sea life centre last week with our 16 month old grandson. We found it easy to find and the car parking close by and within walking distance ( pushing a buggy this was important) There were two school trips at t he time and some of the tanks we crowded but by hanging back and good timing this wasnt to much of a problem. . The Obvious pride the staff showed in their work was a pleasure to see. Our grandson was facinated by the sharks and loved the walkway under the tank. Over all we had a really good day but are glad it wasnt school holidays as it was quite busy and with a young child this would have been a problem.

Visited May 2013
Thank knight53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brewood, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“School trip from hell!!!”
Reviewed May 9, 2013

Attended on a school trip and the problems started before arrival. Bus was not permitted to park close to the centre and so 10 adults had to guide 60 children under 7 years old along an un-fenced canal to the venue.

Upon arrival, there were another 4 other classes, with similar uniforms, so hard to identify the children in the dark areas and there were no staff on hand to guide/assist classes through so that the children had a chance to view the attractions.

Then at lunch time, all packed into a small eating area with the public, where the separate rooms could not be used. The cleaning staff were on hand to wipe tables, whilt the children were still eating, so their way of saying, it's time to move on!!

To top it all off, the soft play area was not managed by any staff and there was an incident where a boy got his head stuck in a tear of the plastic by the slide and 2 adults were needed to free him. When staff at the desk were informed, response was shocking in that, there was no reaction. The soft play area was not cordoned off or any attempts to repair the damaged section after the fault was raised.

Do not recommend place for school visits, as there is no staff available or provided to help the groups move through the place and the soft play area is dangerous.

Visited May 2013
2 Thank SMKiwi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, May 13, 2013
Hi Shobhna,

Thank you for your feedback. We do value both positive and negative feedback and will always strive to meet and exceed customer expectations. We are sorry that your visit failed to meet your expectations and would like to extend our sincere apologies. We have noted that you have also commented on our Facebook page and we have responded accordingly but would like to echo our comments here for you.

Unfortunately we do not have any parking or drop facilities at the centre, the nearest coach drop of point is at the National Indoor Arena which allows you to walk along side the Arena and across the bridge to the centre. The coach company should have been aware of this drop off area, we do recommend speaking to the coach company before the visit to confirm the drop off points.

We apologise that you were disappointed with our lunch room facilities. Unfortunately being an indoor visitor attraction we are unable to extend our eating and play areas. We have to accommodate both schools and the general public so cannot offer lunchtimes without time restrictions.

We apologise for the experience you had with the soft play area. We can assure you that the member of staff from the front desk, once informed, took immediate action by informing our Duty Manager who then investigated the issue reported. The concerned part of the play area was then quickly closed off and will remain so until it is safe to use.

We’re sorry that you were disappointed that no staff were around the play area. Next to the play area there is a code of conduct regarding the play area which states that parents/guardians must remain in the area whilst children are playing.

All of our facility, including the soft play area is checked on a routine basis by the site Duty Manager. Primary checks are carried out in the morning to ensure the centre is safe to open, and then spot checks are carried out on areas through the day. In addition to this, we also have an independent company who attends the centre on a frequent basis to ensure that the area conforms to requirements.

Of course we do understand your concern and can assure you that we are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness. We have been in correspondence with a member of staff that was involved in the trip and are currently following up with her formally via email.

We would like to reiterate that the area involved has been closed and will not reopen until all satisfactory checks and remedial work have been completed.

If you would like to follow up further with us, please do not hesitate to contact our Operations Manager, Richard Dilly at either Richard.dilly@merlinentertainments.biz or alternatively via telephone: 0121 6436777 (ext 6).

Thank you again for getting in touch with us.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
70 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Expensive - Very Busy and Crowded”
Reviewed May 7, 2013

We've been to the Sea Life Centre twice before with our grandchildren and, although expensive, we have all had a great time. However, this last visit was during the school holidays and the crowds and queues were horrendous. The overcrowding was quite worrying in certain places - and there did not seem to be enough staff to maintain safety.

We had envisaged that the visit by the Octonauts (only two of them) would have been much better planned. They were taking very long breaks between appearances, leaving lots of small children waiting for ages in a cramped space which seemed to a makeshift area by the exit (part of the shop?). Needless to say, lots of visitors were rushing through the building to get to see the Octonauts. We were glad someone told us about the time of the last appearance as we nearly missed them altogether.

The 3D cinema film was good but we had to queue for 25 minutes and lots of younger children were understandably very fractious.

Fewer bookings should have been taken to ensure a more enjoyable, and safer, experience.

Visited April 2013
2 Thank Mog25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
Hi Mog25,

Thank you for taking the time to submit a review, we appreciate all feedback and always aim to improve where possible. We are sorry that you were disappointed with your recent visit.

Unfortunately during peak holiday times the centre can become busy so we recommend visiting during off-peak periods or in an off-peak entry time (10am – 11am, or after 3pm).

We are sorry to hear that you felt the Octonauts appearances were insufficient. The Octonauts costume characters appeared once every hour for 45 minutes, following this they had a 10-15 minute break, for health and safety reasons, and then returned for another appearance. This routine was maintained throughout the day until 4.30pm, the last appearance. Appearance times were listed online, on ‘Talk Time’ leaflets handed to guests on arrival as well as on signs throughout the centre.

We would like to assure you that we monitor centre capacity at all times to ensure the health and safety of all guests and staff. Once again we apologise that the centre was busy during your visit but unfortunately this can be the case during peak holiday times.

We hope that your next SEA LIFE experience is more enjoyable.
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