The first full day of our Manchester mini-break saw us drive the few miles around the M62 and M60 to the Intu Trafford Centre. Our first appointment was with the Sea Life Manchester, an attraction that opened in 2013.
Sea Life Manchester is located in the Barton Square area of The Trafford Centre, and it’s a walk over the bridge to get to the main centre with its many shops and restaurants. Free parking on-site.
Sea Life was celebrating Halloween during our visit and there was lots of Halloween decor throughout. You could also search for Pumpkins, unscramble the letters, and get yourself a spooky prize on the way out. The children really engaged with this and it was a bit of a battle to get them to look at the sea life instead.
First stop – once we’d gone through the compulsary photo opportunity – was Turtle Beach. This was a computer-generated talk about turtles. My children loved this bit, and it was just long enough for little attention spans. The talks are timed so you may have to wait a few minutes to get through.
After Turtle Beach, we were free to explore Sea Life at our own pace, though it goes in a logical path so you’re best just to follow that. Alongside the Halloween trail is the regular Sea Life trail where you get a collector card, find the questions (and answers) and then stamp your card. There was always a gaggle of excited children around each stamp point and it was a bit of a battle.
There was a good range of fish and sea creatures to look at in Sea Life, and because it’s a relatively new attraction, everything is fresh and clean.
We especially liked the under-sea tunnel which contained small sharks and some turtles. We love turtles and there is ample opportunity at Sea Life to see some quite close up.
One thing I’ve seen a lot on photos of Sea Life Manchester is the ancient head and I always thought it looked very impressive, so I was keen to see it for myself. I have to say, it does look awesome – much better than my camera could capture. The fish looked quite happy swimming around it.
Next is the play area. As it was half-term when we visited, it was rammed and very noisy. There was some seating and vending machines so you can grab a drink and have a little rest. The play area was quite small but went up three levels and had a variety of things to fiddle with. The girls spent about 30 minutes in here blowing off some energy.
There is lots to see at Sea Life, including sea horses, giant spider crabs, and lots more rays and fish.
We also have a little prod around the touch pool and met some very friendly starfish.
We cashed in our pumpkin trail cards for a little prize, and then headed off to the gift shop. Our favourite thing here was an interactive screen where you could have a mini pirate adventure. Again, it was in demand.
Total visit time – 2 hours
We visited during October half-term and we expected it to be busy, which it was. We had to queue for about ten minutes to get in, and then wait a couple of minutes to get through to Turtle Beach.
Throughout, the attractions were busy but we got to see what we wanted, and duly waited our turn for the trail stamp stations. It wasn’t carnage and we didn’t feel rushed. The staff we spoke to were helpful and friendly, even though they were very busy.
After we had finished at Sea Life, we headed over to the main shopping centre to have some lunch, and then came back over for the next stop on our tour – Legoland Discovery Centre. Did you know you can buy a combo-ticket to get discounted entry into both Sea Life and the Legoland Discovery Centre?
There is more information at Sea Life Manchester.
Watch our video to see what we did in both attractions. Can you spot the jellyfish made of plastic bags which demonstrate how bigger sea creatures often mistake litter for food? Very clever!
Disclosure – we were guests of Sea Life Manchester for the purposes of this review. The graphic above is affiliate