I’m one of those people who loves Blackpool. I know it isn’t for everybody but it’s one of my favourite places, possibly because it’s one of the first trips that Michael and I took back in November 2008 to catch the illuminations before the end of the season. I remember kissing at the end of the North Pier, strolling down the promenade hand-in-hand when the sun went down and getting caught up in all of the pretty lights, happily popping in to the little knick-knack shops, watching teeny sticks of rock being created from huge vats and winning tacky toys at the amusements. It was lovely and I’ve always enjoyed popping back every year, usually in the summer though!
As I’m writing this, it’s been a week of highs and lows. The highs being celebrating Lily’s second birthday and having Michael with us this week as he’s managed to sneak some annual leave, the low being that I lost our baby at 6-7 weeks gestation and struggling to deal with all of the physical and emotional upheaval.
I didn’t expect to be visiting Blackpool but it was a wonderful surprise to be invited to Blackpool SEA Life Centre for the opening of their new ‘Sea Stars’ attraction for both us and Lily. A nice day out to see the fishies for her (she loves aquariums) and an escape to somewhere happy for us.
With a toddler on her reins and a ‘let’s sit on a rock and eat brioche’ stop because she’s ALWAYS HUNGRY it took us around 2 hours to see all of the underwater animals at the SEA Life centre and have a little mooch around the gift shop.
— PARKING —
We parked in our usual spot at Bonny Street just behind the centre and next to Coral Island. The postcode is FY1 5AR. Most of the car parks are run by the Local Authority and share the same pricing system. We paid £7.00 for six hours (yes, it’s bloody expensive!) and you can pay with coins (no notes) or via card.
— TICKET PRICES —
It’s currently £17.50 per adult and £14.50 per child (3+) with little nippers like Lily under three years old getting in for free (lucky beggars). Those are the ‘on the day’ prices and you save money by booking online in advance or combining your ticket with some of the other Blackpool attractions or benefitting from a group discount.
It’s worth noting that a parent and toddler (under 5) can visit for just £11.00 by booking online with additional visitors tagging on for an extra £12.50.
— OUR EXPERIENCE —
You begin your ‘dive’ upstairs and there’s a lift just past the reception area to take you up. I was pleased to see that there’s a designated space to park your buggy/pram if needed before you head through the double doors to start your journey.
The first thing we encountered was a photo opportunity so we snuggled together on the green-screen bench and had some snaps taken. You’re given a little ticket to keep safe and you can view/purchase your photos at the gift shop at the end. I paid £9.00 for a photo but there are bundle deals available with key rings etc.
We started off by taking a look at the open, interactive rock pools with us all dipping our fingers in for the cleaner shrimp to have a little nibble at the dirt and dead skin around our nails (not that we had much, we do wash you know!)
We also had a gentle tickle of the starfish you can see in the second photo above ^^. They actually feel so soft, who knew?!
There’s so many different species of underwater creatures to see at the SEALIFE Centre. It’s easy enough to think ‘it’s just a bunch of fish’ but it’s much more than that with tortoises, sharks, seahorses, the most beautiful jellyfish, octopi, rays, chameleons, the list goes on and on.
All of the set-ups are clean and it’s easy to see all of the fishies (or talk to them like I do, “Oh hello, do you mind if I take a photo of you? No? Ah thanks. You’re a superstar!’)
I like reading all of the placards and signs too telling you all about whatever’s inside the tank, where they’re from and all of that sort of gubbins. It’s really interesting and the more I know, the more I can share with and teach our munchkin.
One of the most astonishing things to see was the huge screen of the biggest tank. It was like being under the sea, I love this sort of thing, what do you think?
This led on to the ocean tunnel which was fabulous but perhaps a little small in comparison to some of the other aquariums I’ve visited previously…
Towards the end of our dive we reached what we’d really come to see — the new ‘Sea Stars’ attraction.
It was so bright, colourful and twinkly and Lily loved getting up close and personal with the starfish. One of the best bits was this tunnel that allows you to pretend you’re underwater with them!
And then there’s these! I’ll call them ‘starfish bubbles’ and they’re awesome!
As you’re leaving the attraction you end up in the gift shop which is very well-stocked and a dream for any kid with pocket money to spend! There’s a whole host of cuddly toys, bags, mugs, stationery and the usual things plus make your own rainbow coloured sand art, panning for shark teeth and a little soft play area (Lily was straight in there!)
We had a wonderful morning and I’d definitely recommend the SEA LIFE Centre to anybody visiting Blackpool — especially with the new ‘Sea Stars’ attraction which was our favourite section being so shiny and new and all.
We went on to have a glorious pub lunch with a pint of Guinness each before having a good wander around (Lily even had a nap, seeing all of the fishies was tiring apparenrtly!) and spending all of our money in Coral Island. Ahhhh!
Have you been to the SEA Life Centre in Blackpool and seen the new ‘Sea Stars’ attraction? What did you think?