Friday, 21 September 2012

Piddle Valley: SeaLife Adventure Park - a review

This is the fourth of a series of posts based on our crazily busy holiday down in Bournemouth and Slough.  Yes, you heard that correctly; Slough.  We've had an intense week of family days out; it's cost us far too much, but we've had an absolutely ball.  Sleep is high on the agenda this week.

I am publishing the posts that were drafted during the trip over the next few weeks between other yummy musings.  The first one: Sandy Balls is here and the second; Wet Bottoms: A review of Peppa Pig World is here.

The third: Painful Groynes - a day at Bournemouth beach is here

The fifth and final in the series - A review of Legoland Windsor is here.

Enjoy the series.  If you don't want to miss a thing you can subscribe by email over on the right hand panel, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Day four: Piddle Valley and Sea Life Adventure Park, Weymouth - a review

 It was absolutely throwing down with rain when we pulled into the car park by Sea Life Adventure Park.  The puddle outside my car door was so big I had to leap from a sitting position in the car to a standing position about a metre from the car, all in one go!

The irony of the name of the place we'd driven past en route to Sea Life Adventure Park wasn't lost on me; Piddle Valley.  I do love the place names around here!

But with ponchos and umbrellas, and a day bag with spare clothes, snacks, plasters, germoline etc (with 2 adults and 2 children under 6 years old.  We ALWAYS need a first aid kit of sorts!) we braved the weather to enter the park.

I have to be honest; if we were at home and I was on my own, there's absolutely NO WAY I would have braved the weather to go on a trip out with the two girls.  My excuse would be fairly persuasive and would focus on the logistical difficulty of keeping hold of two child in a potentially busy, unknown environment whilst also carried the day bag (rucksack in this case) and the umbrella.  I have to also admit to being really pleased that we DID brave the weather, because we had a lovely day.

Special Events


Within 2 minutes of entering the reception area pretty much at opening time, we bumped into Timmy.

For those who have older children, or indeed no children, let me explain quickly who Timmy is.  Remember Wallace and Gromit?  Shaun the Sheep?  The brilliance of the Aardman team?  Their venture into cartoons for pre-schoolers took the form of Timmy.  He is the cutest lamb ever, who gets up to all sorts of fun at his nursery school with his other animal friends (their are ducks, owls etc.  They probably have names, but since it doesn't have 'speech' in the cartoon I'm afraid I've never worked out what they are.)  There's even a website with lots of resources, games and activities where you can watch clips called Timmy Time.

Timmy was stood in reception.

Just to clarify this further; a 6 foot Timmy was stood in reception.

As part of a promotional tour of various theme parks, (Timmy has a feature length DVD out called Timmy's Seaside Rescue) he was today at the Sea Life Adventure Park.  My girls were, luckily not traumatised.  After all, they'd been cuddling 6 foot tall Peppa and George only two days ago.  So they launched themselves on Timmy; who may well now be traumatised, and wouldn't let go for quite some time!

It's funny how it's the deviations from the days plan that are often the most memorable moments!  Future events in October 2012 include Shark Week, so it's worth checking out the Sea Life website here before you go to see what special events may be on.

Things to see and do


So what was the park like?

The exhibits are amazing.  I didn't want to take any photos inside the habitats, as obviously it is kept fairly dark for the comfort of the creatures used to living miles under the sea.  These pictures are courtesy of the Sea Life Adventure Official web page.  Head on over there to see more.

There are sharks swimming over your head....

..turtles (some the size of small cars).....

...sea horses....

.. enormous crabs (really enormous - I felt ill watching the trainer handle him - I did risk a picture of that....

 ...penguins (I took this photo too.. not bad?)...

...and tank after tank of amazing sea life exhibits.

And on top of the amazing habitats; there's so much more to do.
  • a penguin footprint trail, so that you can ensure to see everything; 
  • a trail of questions to keep the children engaged.  Whilst we were there, they had an additional trail of Timmy's sea life questions, which they also had a go at.  
  • Face painting.  I don't know if they just do this in the holidays or not.  The guy that did the beautiful fish and starfish on my girls cheeks was good at it though!

  • Model making.  Again, this may have been a holiday extra.  They had large laminated posters of various different clay modelled sea creatures.  The girls got a big lump of, well, dough, or clay, and shaped their won starfish and puffer fish respectively.  
  • A splash park.  Within the main park there is a small section of fountains.  The sort that the children run about underneath on a spongy surface.  By the time we reached this part of the park it was after lunch and the sun had made an appearance, so the swimsuits came out and our girls ran around for half an hour!  This was in August, so it wasn't cold (just wet!)

  • A mini arcade area and slides by the cafe area midway around.  I suspect this area is a lot nicer when it's not still throwing it down with rain.  It was a fine place to sit and eat lunch though, as it took us until then to get to this part of the park!  There's a larger facility by the main entrance which we didn't use but looked fine.
  • A smallish log flume.
    As if we weren't wet enough!?
  • The Sea Life Tower is not at the same location as the Sea Life Adventure Park.  You can buy joint tickets, but you'll need to travel from one to the other and treat them as separate trips.  We didn't bother with the tower this time.  Check it out here.
  • There's another theme park next door.  Don't be fooled though; you can't access it from Sea Life.  It's entirely separate.
All in all there's a great layout and a good portion of the actual exhibits are inside.  Check out your visitor map here to plan your visit.

The down side


Bear in mind that many of the exhibits are inside because the creatures are used to living miles under the sea where it's fairly dark.  Therefore the lighting within each building is very low.  Even though it was overcast outside, I still found it difficult transitioning to the new light levels as we entered each area.  Because of this; the fact that adults start by checking out what's at eye level, not necessarily what's around their knees; and because some of the flooring in some areas is a little uneven; I'd keep a very tight hold of young children.

Other tips


Always pack a swimsuit and a small towel.  We pack one poncho style towel between the two children.  Enough for the types of splash parks that this, and many other theme parks now have.  And even if they don't, the towel came in handy after a ride on the log flume.  We also packed (through necessity) rain macs, umbrellas, sun cream (I know it sounds crazy, but did you see the crazy mixture of weather we had in the UK in August?), snacks and bottles of water.

Opening and Prices


Sea Life Adventure Park, Weymouth, is part of the Merlin Group. It is open from 10am til 5pm daily.  You can buy tickets in advance online here from £13 each.  Or treat yourself to either a Sea Life Adventure Park Annual Pass, or a Merlin Annual Pass (incorporating access to other Merlin attractions such as Legoland and Alton Towers) here. 

This is NOT a sponsored post.  We paid full price.


  1. With all that going on I think it looks like a very reasonable price for a day out. I am sure many of the attractions here are more. Swimsuits and a towel are great advise and looks like you were well prepared! Thank you for sharing on Country Kids.


Hi there! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Share with StumbleUpon


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...