Tag Archives: Merlin

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

Over the summer, with much fanfare, LEGOLAND opened the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham. We had a weekend away in Birmingham in September and a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham was very high on our list of things to do.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is quite similar to the one in Manchester. We visit the Manchester centre quite often, so it all felt quite similar there. We loved the Birmingham Miniland – which includes models of some of the more iconic buildings and places to visit in and around Birmingham. We’d been to Warwick Castle the previous day, so their model of the castle was an absolute treat!

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

The new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham has all of the things we’ve come to expect from a Discovery Centre. The Kingdom Quest ride is something we enjoy doing; but there’s often a queue and if you just want to get straight into the LEGO action it’s easy to skip.

The 4D Cinema (which we didn’t go in, because the boy just wanted to play with the LEGO) looked good. The queues were pretty minimal for that and I always think it’s a good excuse to sit down for 15 minutes and enjoy a mini-LEGO movie.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

Also at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham there’s the Duplo Farm, LEGO City Builder and LEGO Racers Build and Test. These are all areas where you can just dive in and build whatever you want with the millions of bricks which are there. These are obviously very popular and my son loves (really loves) the chance to sit and build with unlimited bricks for as long as he wants. It is a LEGO fans dream really.

If you’re looking for a more formal building experience, the Creative Workshop was brilliant. They run regular sessions throughout the day. Everyone is given a kit and instructions to build something (on the day we visited it was a LEGO BBQ). It’s well worth setting aside a bit of time to do one of the workshops, for me the workshop was probably my highlight.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

My son is not a fan of rides; so we gave the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride a miss in favour of half an hour of LEGO City Soft Play. The soft play is always popular. It’s well thought out, with lots of fun LEGO details and it’s soft play; so all kids like it and ultimately refuse to leave until you promise to buy them a biscuit/LEGO from the shop/a puppy.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is well worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s not massive, but there’s enough to entertain you for a few hours. We loved Miniland, the Creative Workshop, all the LEGO building areas and the soft play.

Tickets are from £15 per person, but deals and discounts are available online. For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website. Our Merlin Annual Pass gives us entry to all Merlin Attractions and it worth getting if you’re a regular visitor.

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

We’re currently holidaying in Cornwall, and keen to make the most of our Merlin Annual Passes, this week we had a drive down to Gweek to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary which this year is celebrating 60 years of seal rescue, rehabilitation and release.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is part of the SEA LIFE group of attractions and set in the picturesque Helford Estuary, by the village of Gweek, in Cornwall. It’s probably the most southerly Merlin attraction in the UK; but well worth remembering to pack your passes for if you have them.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

One of the most exciting reasons to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was that I’d spotted on their website that it was dog friendly. It’s harder than you’d think to find attractions which are genuinely dog friendly, so were delighted to get through the door and see so many happy dogs on days out with their families.

The sanctuary is located on the fairly steep side of the Helford Estuary. There is a safari bus to take people from the top to the bottom of the steep hill, but it isn’t by their own admission the most accessible of attractions; though they’ve tried their best and help is always at hand if you need it. Me, being unsteady on my feet took the safari bus option with my son, whilst my husband walked the dog down to the bottom. He beat us there and back both times, but the bus is brilliant for little legs, or unsteady adult ones.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is the first port of call for local seals who have been injured or who are ill. Each year around 50 seals are taken in by the sanctuary and given the care they need to get better. Most go on to be released back into the sea, but some have life changing injuries or conditions which can be best managed at the sanctuary.

At the sanctuary you can find common seals, grey seals, penguins, otters, sea lions as well as ponies, sheep and goats. There is also a rockpool area to explore and a wildlife walk through the woods. There’s a lot of learning to be had, from conservation work, to things we can do at home to help the plant. We found this very interesting and a great talking point.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

The self-led tour begins at the seal rescue hospital. We skipped the hospital as there were no seals in there, which is a good thing and carried to the bottom of the hill where there are a number of different pools; the common seals were in a new-ish looking pool next to the nursery pool which held the youngest pups in the sanctuary.

There were various talks and experiences throughout the day. The feeding sessions seemed to be the most popular; watching the resident seals in the convalescent pool get fed their fishy lunch whilst we were given a talk about the seals and what had happened to bring them to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was especially interesting. The feeding of the penguins was also great fun.

The woodland walk was a really great addition. There’s a 500 metre walk to Otter Creek, but along the way there are lots of signs with facts and activities on. It’s also great for dogs (on leads) to stretch their legs in the cool shade of the woods.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

There are both permanent and temporary residents in the seal sanctuary, so the number of animals to visit can vary. However it is really well done, there is always a programme of events and a permanent selection of seals, penguins, sea lions and otters to see and learn about. The wildlife walk was great, very informative and a great place for kids to run off a bit of steam.

We were also really impressed with the cafes on site. They were not wildly expensive and we enjoyed a good lunch, though you can take a picnic if you’d prefer.

We had a really enjoyable and informative visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. It’s a genuinely dog friendly family attraction in Cornwall which we all really enjoyed visiting.

Find out more about The Cornish Sea Sanctuary by visiting their website.

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

When we heard that SEA LIFE Manchester were unveiling a new exhibit, we had to go down and check it out. SEA LIFE Manchester is one of our favourite places to spend a few hours and we were keen to meet the new resident –  a Japanese Spider Crab!

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

Japanese Spider Crabs can measure over 5 metres claw to claw, and can live to up to 100 years old! There are three Japanese Spider Crabs at SEA LIFE Manchester in a huge new tank area. Given they can grow up to the size of a small car, even though they seem huge, they still have plenty of growing to do.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

The hard shell of the Japanese Spider Crab helps to protect them from larger predators such as octopuses, but giant spider crabs also use camouflage. The crab’s bumpy shell can help them to blend into the rocky ocean floor. They really are incredible creatures. Almost nightmarish in appearance, but apparently they are quite placid creatures. It felt really special to see these deep-sea creatures close up.

SEA LIFE Manchester has been given a bit of a makeover since we were last there just before Christmas. A few things have been moved about or refreshed, with, I’m pleased to say, another jellyfish tank in the building. You can crawl through the fluorescent world of the floating moon jellyfish in their brand new 360-degree doughnut tank. I adore jellyfish and we always spend lots of time watching them swim about. They’re very relaxing to watch.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

We also stopped by the Jurassic Ranger area to have a look at the fossils. The Ranger expertly told us all about the fossils she had on display and let us touch some. She also gave the kids a sharks tooth each to take home with them as a souvenir. It was really interesting to find out more about sharks and sharks teeth, especially as that’s one of his topics at school this year.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

SEA LIFE Manchester is one of our favourite places to visit. I’m pleased to see it’s been given a little makeover in parts. The centre is packed full of beautiful, weird and wonderful creatures; it’s well worth a visit for a few hours if you’re wanted a few hours of wonder and awe.

Find out more about what’s on at SEA LIFE Manchester on their website.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester is one of our nearest Merlin attractions. We like to visit a few times a year, but we’ve not been since they refurbished last year. We’d heard that over Easter they’d launched a new Space Mission area and we were very keen to check it out. Plus there was the relatively new Ninjago area which we still hadn’t seen. Over the Easter break we swung by for an afternoon of Legoland fun!

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

We were pretty impressed with the new layout of Legoland Discovery Centre. The cafe area had been tucked away in a colourful room of its own, most of the old favourites were still there. Mini-land had been improved with the Manchester bit looking more Mancunian than before. I especially liked the new Lego Media City building and the working tram trundling about.

As we rounded the corner to get into the main area, the boy spotted the huge Ninjago area straight away. There are a few Ninja training zones where lively kids can burn off some energy, so he dabbled a bit there, striking Ninja poses and generally getting stuck in. There’s a soft play area/temple and he disappeared in there for ten minutes, returning to us with a big smile on his face. There’s also a moving climbing wall which had quite a long queue, so we might have a go another time.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

Obviously apart from the awesome soft play temple, his highlights from that area were the huge Ninjago figures made of Lego and the free building area where he just let his imagination run wild. It’s excellent, really excellent. If you like Ninjago, you’ll love this. It’s perfectly thought out.

Time was ticking and we needed to go and check out the new Space Mission area. It’s a reasonably small space compared to the Ninjago area, but they’ve really packed everything in. You can build and launch your own Lego rocket, or drive remote control buggies and explore the surface of the Lego planet. There’s an animation desk where you can create your own Lego animations and lots more.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

I especially liked the space shuttle which takes off every five minutes. The level of detail is pretty awesome. We spent quite a lot of time looking at everything and exploring the area. The boy really liked the control desk and anything where he can just build Lego is always a hit.

Living half an hour from Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester, we really ought to visit a little more often. We’ve got Merlin Annual Passes, so it’s no bother to pop in for a quick hour of Lego fun, or a bit longer if we have the time.

If you’re local we can totally recommend the new Space Mission area and the Ninjago area is fantastic. Everything else has been spruced up for 2018 too.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website.

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

I don’t know about you, but Sunday evenings are Blue Planet time in our house. We all snuggle on the sofa and spend an hour being wowed by the wonders of the deep. With SEA LIFE Manchester virtually on our doorstep, we decided to take a trip and discover some of the amazing creatures who live in our oceans.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

SEA LIFE Manchester is our nearest SEA LIFE Centre and as such we tend to go there quite a lot. It’s great to spend a couple of fairly chilled hours there. We’ve met most of the creatures in the centre before, but this time there had been a couple of changes.

I have my own favourites, namely the jellyfish, this time they were much smaller, so I think these were new to the centre. It was quite interesting to see their relatively small bodies floating and undulating in the water.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

Te other big change was that Ernie, the huge green sea turtle has found himself a lady friend – Cammie. I think the hope is that they will find love and produce some baby turtles of their own.

Despite us being regular visitors to SEA LIFE Manchester, we did manage to experience a few things we’d never seen or done before. The boy felt brave enough to touch a starfish in the Rockpool Zone. Then I put my hand in to say hello to a shrimp. I was told the shrimp would nibble my fingers, taking away dead skin and it found a nice meal and gave my finger a bit of a tug I wasn’t expecting. I may have squealed in a most unnecessary way.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

We also spent quite a lot of time talking to some of the Jurassic Rangers who were on hand to talk about fossils and show off some specimens. The boy is a massive dinosaur fan, so this was a bit of a treat for him.

Best of all, towards the end of the day we managed to catch the Ray Talk. We watched them being fed while a very knowledgeable man told us all about them. There are three species of ray at SEA LIFE Manchester including the lovely Blue Spotted Stingrays. The Ray Talk is well worth catching if you’re interested in these graceful creatures.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

The boy went all around SEA LIFE pointing out creatures he’d seen on Blue Planet and telling us a bit more about them. The same is true when we’re watching the TVseries; every so often he pipes up “I’ve seen that at SEA LIFE”!

If you’re a fan of Blue Planet then a visit to your local SEA LIFE Centre is a must. It’s really helped to connect the dots for my son. Seeing things in real life that he’d seen on the TV suddenly made everything extra wonderful and real for him.

Find out more about what’s on this Christmas on the SEA LIFE Manchester website.

 
I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I was given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I was not paid to write this post.

Days Out: Visiting Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

Over the summer we travelled down to North Devon for our two week holiday. We knew that the weather would not be fabulous, so we tried to plan a few wet weather activities. With that in mind we took our Merlin Passes and decided to choose a rainy day and drive over to Weymouth in Dorset to visit the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park.

What we’d not realised (and a quick visit to their website would have told us this) is that Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park is a largely outdoor attraction and on rainy days you will get very wet. 

Days Out: Visiting Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

It was a 2 hour plus drive from our holiday cottage, but we arrived late morning and promptly got soaked to the skin as we walked to the entrance. The fast track queue which Merlin Annual Passholders use was outside, so by the time we got into the park we were completely sodden. 

Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park is separated into several zones. Some of which are indoor, some are outdoor. As you can imagine on a very wet day the indoor zones were particularly crowded. 

Days Out: Visiting Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

The zones were – Harbourside; Nursery; Penguins; New Ideas Zone; Breed Rescue Protect; Ray Lagoon; Rockpool; Turtle Sanctuary; Seals; Rainforest; Shipwreck; Otters and Ocean Tunnel. In addition to these attractions, there is also a Wetlands Conservation Trail, a Splash Zone and Caribbean Cove – an outdoor adventure playground. 

We love Sea Life Centres and we’ve seen a lot of the indoor habitats before at other Sea Life Centres. Once we realised there were other exciting attractions we’ve never seen before, despite the heavy rain we made a beeline for them. Ben loved the penguins and the seals. The Turtle Sanctuary was in its own building complete with a huge turtle over the entrance. 

Days Out: Visiting Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

The otters which are Asian Short-Clawed Otters were a big hit. We both really enjoyed watching them run about, diving in and out of their pool and the dashing inside to tumble about in their beds. 

We were particularly impressed with the outdoor Rockpool area. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The indoor Rockpool areas at other Sea Life Centres are usually a series of supervised tanks you can put your hands in and touch the creatures. The same is true here, but it’s outside, partially under cover and every so often an artificial tide crashes out and floods the area. There is a warning, so you can step out of the way and not get wet, but it’s a great addition. The Rockpool area is home to creatures native to the UK, including starfish, shore crabs, anemones and sea urchins.

Days Out: Visiting Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

The outdoor areas were brilliant and a real treat. There was so much to see and do and we learned such a lot. On a dry day I know we would have made so much more of them. It was such a shame it was so wet, but that didn’t seem to bother the penguins, seals and otters quite as much as it did us.

We would absolutely visit the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park again, just maybe on a dry day. 

For more information about Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park, visit their website.

If you’re visiting Weymouth you could also visit the Jurassic Skyline Tower which we reviewed here.

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I have been given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I wasn’t paid to write this post.

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

Over the weekend we popped to the Trafford Centre to run a few pre-Christmas family errands. I sent my husband in to do battle with the hordes of shoppers and I took the small boy for a look around SEA LIFE Manchester, a calm oasis in a sea of Christmas chaos.

We arrived very early and we were the first people through the door. We had our Merlin passes scanned and we headed off to explore. We are regulars at SEA LIFE Manchester, and we always enjoy our visits. The boy loved being first in and it seemed like we had the place to ourselves (we didn’t, other people were a couple of minutes behind us).

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

We quickly sought out some of our favourite sea creatures. I love the jellyfish and we spent some time changing the coloured lights in their tank and seeing how different they looked in the different lights. I also love the stingrays, they glide so gracefully through the water, they’re really calming to watch. 

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

The boy is a big fan of the turtles, so we watched them swim in their tanks and learning more about them. He’s also very keen on seahorses and “Nemo fish”. Although he’s not keen on touching, we did spend quite a lot of time in the rockpool area. The staff were very helpful and told us all about the sea creatures which live in the tank. Some of which we might find in a rockpool in the UK.

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

We had a lovely explore of SEA LIFE Manchester, it felt so peaceful and it’s the perfect antidote to the busyness of Christmas. We’d spent an hour or so peacefully chatting about all of the creatures. We learned a little more about them and wondered what they’d be having for their Christmas dinner.

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

I can absolutely recommend SEA LIFE Manchester if you want to do something with your family this Christmas that isn’t full of flashing lights and fake snow. It was an absolutely delightful way to spend the morning.

What’s on at SEA LIFE Manchester this Christmas?

This Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester, guests can take part in a festive fish hunt. Come face to fin with a Snow Flake Eel, Humbug Fish, Angel Fish, Star Fish and even a Turkey Fish! 

Excitingly, during the evenings of 17th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd December, visitors can see beautiful diving mermaids in the tropical ocean tank. The Mermaids will grace the water in a spectacular dive with the sharks and Ernie, the giant green sea turtle. 

Find out more about what’s on this Christmas on the SEA LIFE Manchester website.

I am a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I was given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I was not paid to write this post.

Days Out: Visiting The Blackpool Tower

As a child I spent a lot of time in Blackpool. Living in Manchester it was our nearest bit of seaside and we had family there, so it was a regular haunt. We thought Blackpool was probably the most amazing place on earth. We never really did the Pleasure Beach, but Blackpool Tower, with its beautiful ballroom, circus and million mile views was somewhere we seemed to visit quite a lot.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend we took the small boy to Blackpool. Our first stop was SEA LIFE Blackpool, which was brilliant. After we’d left SEA LIFE he was keen to hit the beach, but I wanted us to have a quick trip up the Blackpool Tower  before we all got covered in sand. 

Blackpool Tower

Although the Blackpool Tower is home to several famous attractions including the Ballroom, the tower circus, the tower dungeon and Jungle Jim’s, what we really wanted to see and do was the tower itself. 

As Merlin Card holders we showed our cards and got into the lift up to the Blackpool Tower Eye. This is a fairly recent addition to the tower. The first stop was the obligatory before attraction photograph. I always say yes to having these taken out of politeness, but we never buy them and they always look awful and/or really unnatural. The people in front of us declined, so we decided to as well and we were just waved through.

We joined a short queue for the 4D cinema experience. There are no seats in this cinema, so be prepared to stand for the short showing. The short film shows you the history of the tower and is a whistle-stop tour/flight around Blackpool complete with wind through your hair and foamy bubbles being blown at you. I found it quite exciting, the small boy wasn’t quite as keen. I think he was a bit nervous about going up the tower.

Blackpool Tower

Nervous faces…

Once you’ve watched the film you join the queue for the lifts up the tower. We had already decided to stay on the glass SkyWalk platform rather than climbing the stairs to the top. Both of my boys are a bit windy about heights and we thought we could go back another day and push it a little bit further with them.

They were very brave and both eventually managed to step out onto the 5cm thick glass. To be fair, the tower is 380ft tall and it is very strange standing on glass and being able to see all the way down.

Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower

I wonder how they clean the windows

It was a gloriously sunny day, the sky was a beautiful blue and you could see for miles and miles. On a clear day you can apparently see the Lake District, Liverpool and across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.

Blackpool Tower

We spent quite a bit of time walking around on the SkyWalk platform, admiring Blackpool and beyond from all angles. We talked about going even higher up the tower, but we decided to leave that for another, slightly braver day.

I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the attractions at the tower, but the boys were very keen to get on the beach, but we will be back another day soon for a proper look around. 

For more information visit the Blackpool Tower website.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Last weekend we got the chance to give our new family pass for LEGOLAND its first outing. We took the small boy and my nephew to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre for the afternoon. We were keen to catch a showing of The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure and explore all that was on offer.

The boys were raring to get in and explore; we started with the Factory Tour, which is quite short and interactive, it involves lots of jumping up and down and being given their own souvenir LEGO brick to keep. They queued calmly for the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, which I’m sure us adults enjoyed more than the kids – we are a competitive bunch!

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Whilst the grown ups enjoyed checking out Miniland – where the great attractions of the UK are recreated in LEGO form; the boys raced off to the LEGO Racers Build & Test track. I’m convinced they would have stayed there all day if they could. After a quick pit stop in the cafe for refreshments, the boys were keen to race their police cars on the LEGO City Forest Pursuit track. There was a bit of a queue for this, but both of the boys didn’t mind waiting.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Once the race was over it was time for a sit down, so we settled down to watch The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure. I was not hopeful that the small boy would enjoy it as he hates the dark and noise of cinemas, but he sat beautifully throughout and was captivated by the story, giggling in all the right places and he even enjoyed being showered with bubbles. The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure is well worth going to see if you’re visiting.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Knowing how much the boys love LEGO City, we went to explore and build, they honestly could have spent hours playing in this area and I think next time we might head straight there so they can spend a bit more time there.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

On the way out we had a quick go on the Ninjago Laser Training Camp, followed by a whirlwind look around the shop.

We’d planned to spend about 3 or 4 hours there and it wasn’t enough to explore everything in one go. We’ll have to go again at least twice to have a proper play with everything.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

I’m excited to be able to tell you that we are now blogger ambassadors for both LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and Sealife at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, so do keep an eye out for more LEGOLAND and Sealife news and reviews throughout 2016.