If you’ve got a Merlin Annual Pass, you might have some favourite places to visit with it. A lot of passholders tend to visit the same two or three attractions, but it’s good to branch out a bit if you get the chance. This year we have been Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors and we’ve made a conscious effort to get out and about a bit more, using our passes on holidays and weekends away to get the most out of them.
There are (I think) 32 UK attractions you can gain entry to with a Merlin Annual Pass. Whilst we’ve not managed to visit them all, we’ve had a lot of fun trying. Below is a list of all the (current) Merlin Attractions in the UK along with links to a write up of a visit there, either by myself or another blogger. It’s a cracking to do list if you’ve got a Merlin Annual Pass. How many have you visited?
The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK
The small boy and I love visiting Sea Life Centres. We share a love of jellyfish, stingrays and sharks so wherever we go in the UK, if there’s a Sea Life Centre nearby we will be there! Earlier this year we had a couple of days in Blackpool and while we were in town we took the chance to visit the Blackpool Sea Life Centre.
Blackpool Sea Life Centre is on the promenade, about five minutes walk down from Blackpool Tower. There are ticket deals to be had, so if you’re planning to go buying tickets in advance, or multi-attraction tickets are a good bet. We have a Merlin card, so we just showed those on the way in and we were given a guide and waved through.
Like all Sea Life Centres, Blackpool Sea Life Centre is laid out in zones – Rockpool, Atlantic Depths, Quayside zone, Stingray Adventure zone, Kingdom of the Seahorse, Submarine Explorer, Rainforest Adventure zone, Shark Mission and Ocean Tunnel and lastly the Jurassic Seas zone.
We have been to Blackpool Sea Life Centre before and we really like spending time in the Ocean Tunnel and the Stingray Adventure Zone. When we visited this time, we spent quite a lot of time with the octopus.
Whenever we’ve seen octopus before they’ve always been hidden away in the back of the tank having a sleep. This time the octopus was curled up in the corner at the front of the tank. We stopped to have a proper look at this amazing creature and we caught its eye. We’re not sure if we spooked it (we don’t tap on tanks or anything) or if it just wanted to show off for us, but we had a good five minutes with it swimming around and puffing itself up for us. Thank you Mr Octopus.
We also spent quite a lot of time watching the stingrays. There was a really good viewing area where you could pop your head in the domes inside the tank and watch all the fish and stingrays swim by. Sadly we’d just missed the stingray feeding session, but it did mean we had the area almost entirely to ourselves for a little while.
Blackpool Sea Life Centre is a really good sized aquarium with a fantastic collection of weird and wonderful creatures. It’s slap bang in the middle of Blackpool prom and the perfect place to take the family if it’s raining, or too sunny, or if you just want to spend a couple of hours feeling chilled out watching the creatures.
If you time your visit carefully you might catch them feeding the sharks. Or you could go backstage to find out more, or maybe catch a special talk. My tip is to go as soon as it opens when it’s quiet and it feels like it’s just you and the fish.
I wonder which Sea Life Centre we’ll visit next?
For more information about Blackpool Sea Life Centre visit their website.
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.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend we decided to have a trip to SEA LIFE Blackpool. The sun was shining, we fancied some sea air and it’s only an hour away; so off we went. The boy was really excited, he loves SEA LIFE Manchester and we’d heard that SEA LIFE Blackpool was well worth visiting, especially if you’re gripped by Finding Dory fever!
When we got there we were offered the chance to go on a behind the scenes tour, it was an extra £3 each but I was really interested in “going backstage” so we booked our places (more of which later).
We were given a map, an activity trail sheet and pencil and a pair of rather fetching paper goggles to wear.
SEA LIFE Blackpool is divided into lots of different zones, with different kinds of sea life in each area. We were most excited about the stingrays and the seahorses, but we knew there were lots of other things to explore. The zones at SEA LIFE Blackpool include the Rockpool (you can touch some of the creatures here), Atlantic Depths which has sea life including anemones, starfish, crabs, place, lobster and octopus.
I was very taken by the various different kinds of anemones, they were all so colourful, beautiful and delicate looking. I could happily spend hours looking at them all.
Our next stop was the Quayside zone which was home to stingrays, rays, pollock, brill and dogfish. Stingrays are our favourite, so we spent quite a while watching them fly through the tank in the Stingray Adventure zone, it’s a mesmerising sight.
Our next stop was a visit to our other favourites in the Kingdom of the Seahorse, a zone which is home to lion fish, unicorn fish, clown fish, regal tangs and of course, lots of seahorses (fun fact: my first pet was a pair of seahorses, one of which was called Ankle). Did you know that seahorses prefer to swim in pairs with their tails linked together?
Moving on to the next zone – the Submarine Explorer to see creatures who usually live in the darker depths of the sea including jellyfish, puffa fish, eels and tangs. We loved the jellyfish. I’ve never really looked at them very closely before, but they had different coloured lights shining in the tanks so you could pick up the detail. They look like beautiful atomic clouds.
We passed through the Rainforest Adventure zone quite quickly, it was a busy area with people looking at the turtles, chameleons and frogs and we were starting to worry about missing our slot for the Behind the Scenes Tour.
The next stop was the Shark Mission and Ocean Tunnel. Every SEA LIFE Centre has a tunnel to walk through and this one was full of sharks including black tip sharks, white tip sharks, bowmouth guitar sharks, shovel nose sharks, nurse sharks, stingrays and lots of other fish. We were lucky enough to have a shark come and have a rest next to us as we looked through the tunnel, The small boy was transfixed!
The final zone is Jurassic Seas which has ancient creatures such as the nautilus and more beautiful anemones, we would like to have spent more time exploring this zone, but we were almost late for our tour.
We met Robbie who gave us the behind the scenes tour. We visited the breeding area, full of baby fish who are still too tiny to be out fending for themselves in the main tanks. We met some fish which had been donated to the centre because they’d grown too big and some jellyfish (which don’t have brains).
Robbie then showed us some “moults” which are the discarded shells of creatures who shed them as they grow, such as lobsters and crabs. He also showed us some sharks teeth. Sharks can grow new teeth within a day of losing one.
We met lots of creatures who were in quarantine, such as a very pretty blue spotted ribbon tail ray who had been donated to the centre. Apparently lots of people get rays for their aquariums at home, but they often sting their owners who then get rid of them, not always responsibly.
One of the most interesting creatures is the peacock mantis shrimp which has beautiful peacock colouring, but has to live in a special acrylic tank because he is so strong he can punch through glass and escape!
I found the behind the scenes tour really fascinating and well worth the £3 extra, it’s really worth doing if you’re interested in the inner workings of SEA LIFE Blackpool and how they manage the environment in the tanks, as well as the quarantine and breeding programmes.
Our visit to SEA LIFE Blackpool was incredibly interesting and we really enjoyed exploring the different zones. I am only sorry that we didn’t have longer to explore everywhere more thoroughly, but that is our fault, we should have booked a later tour. We will have to go back again and do it more thoroughly another time.
SEA LIFE Blackpool was fascinating and full of weird, wonderful and often beautiful creatures. I was enchanted by the jellyfish, anemones and all the colourful fish. It’s worth a visit to see those alone.
For more information about visiting SEA LIFE Blackpool visit their website.
We are SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Ambassadors and we used our Merlin passes to gain entry.