Today we went to the Sea Life Centre in Great Yarmouth. J has been watching YouTube videos of various sea life centres and was eager to see some Rays. The centre was easy to find and there was easy parking nearby (no parking onsite).
A big plus is that it’s right by the beach so we got to have some inside and outdoors adventures today. In terms of facilities there are the basics available. It’s wheelchair and push chair accessible the majority of way round (although I can imagine it being trickier during peak time to get close to tanks).
There are basic level toilet facilities. By this I mean male, female, basic disabled (does not require radar key) and a baby change area. There was no ‘Changing Places‘ style facilities that I could find so if you require hoist or changing bed you will need to factor this into your day. We used the disabled toilet and my only criticism is the fact the hand drier is directly above the sink which for my autistic child who is sensory sensitive he got very anxious he was going to turn it on by accident (which is why we avoid general toilets as much as possible). Otherwise facilities were clean and in good working order.
You can pay on the door or book online for your tickets. We paid on the door as we had a cereal packet voucher and used our DLA forms to get discounted entry. It’s worth contacting the Sea Life Centre if you want to know ticket options. They have a very helpful social media team who I checked with before we left. If you don’t have vouchers or concessions then booking online is definitely cheaper. If you are a ‘parent and toddler’ combo then check out the off peak ticket they offer for you.
We had an amazing visit. Seeing the sea creatures in such lovely tanks meant his attention was easy caught by every display. He could get close to the fish and the creatures to get a proper look. J was amazed at the size of some of the fish.
Each display has information about the inhabitants. J loved this and we had to read everything we found and explore every interactive display we saw. He learnt loads of facts and new words.
J went over to look at the starfish and braved having a go at touching one. He said it felt “like the sea” and “bumpy and smooth”. After a couple of goes touching it I could see he was becoming uncomfortable and he pulled his hands out and was flapping. He washed his hands and the demonstrator gave J a badge for giving it a go (the lady was really friendly and we never felt pressured or hurried).
There’s also opportunity to watch various feedings. We watched Noah the turtle being fed. I can’t believe how big he is and Noah’s not even fully grown yet! J loved watching him eat and was interested in the facts we learnt. J was sad to hear that turtles die by eating plastic bags…something that actually really affected him later on in the day and he had a shutdown episode in the cafe (he has a habit of mulling things over and it coming out later). It’s definitely making us rethink of use of bags and I’m going to look into switching other plastic items too.
I think one of our favourite parts was the ‘under the sea’ tunnel. We spent quite a while under there watching the various sea creatures swimming around us. There’s a lot to see and I think J enjoyed the ‘enclosed’ feeling being inside the tunnel. He was fascinated to see real sharks. It was a great sensory area.
As we went round we collected ‘stamps’ in the little booklet. J liked pressing the lever down and at the end he got a badge to take home. Whilst in the shop J choose a few of his favourite sea animals from the day to take home for bathtime…and a lego diver (I swear he can find lego everywhere!). The shop is typical gift shop really so it’s up to your budget how much you spend. The animals we brought started at £1.50 so wasn’t too expensive.
Afterwards we went to the on-site restaurant. J had sausage and chips, I had a chicken burger and chips and Daddy had an all day breakfast. With drinks it came to over £20 but they do have cheaper snack options if you don’t want meals. There’s a free soft play onsite too so J went for a run around before he ate (it was nice and quiet today as it’s winter and a Sunday). The soft play requires children to be able to climb so those with mobility issues will be unable to use with adult who can carry them around.
As I said, the beach is behind the centre and there’s an arcade nearby. When it’s beach season there’s lots of other attractions open along the same main road so you can make it a whole day trip or hide away indoors if it’s cold. Definitely an ‘any day’ place to visit.
I love the fact it’s not just a place to visit, but also a big part of conservation. It makes you really appreciate the world we live in and respect the impact we have on sealife. The animals all have such personalities and the staff spoke so fondly about them that you’d think they were family. We’ve come away a very happy bunch.
Disclaimer: This is in no way an ad or collaboration post. I was not offered anything in return for my review. I just like sharing our days out.