THE playground favourites that are the Moshi Monsters have taken up residence at the National Sealife Centre in Birmingham this summer, but it is arguably the most recognisable fish of all time who remains the real pull, writes Chris Smith.
Finding Nemo is one of the best-selling DVDs of all time so it was no surprise that scores of people seem permanently huddled around the tank that contains real-life versions of the little clown fish and his friends from Disney Pixar’s 2003 box office hit.
The Sealife Centre, owned by the Merlin group in whose stable is also Alton Towers and Warwick Castle, has been taking visitors deep into the oceans of the world for almost 20 years now, and while it is looking its age cosmetically there was still a queue out of its doors in the centre of the city when I visited with my two young children at the start of the school summer holidays.
And it remains worth a visit – albeit a short one that is rather expensive.
It took us less than two hours to make our way around only to find there was nowhere for us to enjoy our obligatory day out picnic. Yet the on the door entry fee was an eye-watering £20.75 for adults and children over three, reducing to £17.50 per person for a group of more than two people.
And while in all honesty it wasn’t really worth it, this is the 21st century and you can get in for almost half the price if you pre-book tickets online while two-for-one vouchers are widely available.
Reviewers of such attractions like me tend to feel under pressure to find kind words considering we do not part with money at the entrance, and despite the ticket price there is a lot to see although you just get the feeling you are being ushered around very quickly due to the high visitor numbers and lack of space.
There is the section dedicated to the centre’s extensive seahorse breeding programme, the open tanks where you can see its collection of sting rays and the fully transparent underwater tunnel that puts you up close and personal with sharks and a giant turtle – too close for my two-year-old son infact.
Newer additions include the penguin enclosure and the 4D cinema although if you’re offspring are as impatient in the queue as mine were you might not get the chance to enjoy that.
The National Sealife Centre has won may awards over the years and its easy to see why because it is an enthralling place to visit and its limitations are very much simply due to its location at the heart of Birmingham’s Brindley Place area where it is penned in by the growing commercial centre and NIA, meaning what you see now is probably what you’ll get for the rest of its lifespan unless it is relocated.
For more information about Moshi Monsters summer residency visit visitsealife.com/moshi.
Review by Chris Smith.