London Aquarium: A Disappointing Day Out

Posted: March 7, 2014

I recently visited Sea Life London Aquarium with my three year old son and his grandparents. Located near the London Eye on the Southbank of the River Thames, Sea Life opens its doors to the public seven days a week between 10am – 6pm. With the standard tickets being priced at £22.68 per adult and £19.50 per child (3-15 years old), my expectations were high.

The attraction has plenty of 2 for 1 vouchers, but you can only use one voucher per group and for a family of five it is still likely to cost you upwards of £100. If I was going to pay this amount of money for a family day out, I would expect the visit to provide the customers with lots of fun, interaction and attractions to keep the whole family entertained. I can honestly say that this was not the case when I visited with my family on Friday the 28th February.

We visited on a Friday afternoon and it was already rather crowded. This made it extremely hard for my little boy to even see some of the fish and sea creatures- he had to sit on his granddad’s shoulders as we walked around in order for him to see into the tanks properly.

There are limited things to do and they only have a small section where you can touch some of the sea life, such as starfish. Again the queue around this was so big that we ended up missing it, I can only image how bad it gets during its most popular times. Personally I believe that the aquarium has not been designed to keep the customers in and entertained, instead it has been designed to get customers in and out promptly. We spent less than two hours in the aquarium and left once we had walked around everything.

The ocean tube was full, however it was probably the best bit of the aquarium, as you get to watch the sharks and fish swim above and around you, allowing you to feel as though you were deep down in the bottom of the ocean. It was busy in the ocean tube as a lot of the children really seemed to enjoy standing inside it, nevertheless it would have to be a lot bigger to give its customers a better experience of the ocean as it is fairly short.

The penguins were also disappointing as this area was again small and overcrowded. There were not many penguins inside and they just stood still looking pretty miserable, which was a real shame because the penguins were what my son was looking forward to seeing the most. The tiny crocodile was also a let-down, and most of the children and adults walked straight past it as they simply couldn’t see it.  

Some sad looking penguins

The gift shop does have some lovely toys and we purchased a sea worm, a soft crocodile and octopus toy, which my little boy loves. I would also say that the pricing for the products was fair, not cheap but not really expensive either. 

I have visited aquariums all over Europe and America from a young age, and Sea Life London really does not compare to others that I have been to with their happy penguins, quirky polar bears, scary sea snakes, giant squid and enormous octopuses.

I would recommend the London Aquarium for an unusual date, or if you are looking for a day out and have money to splash you could have a unique and fun experience here. However, if you are visiting London or live here and want to take the family out, I would suggest that you reconsider. I think it is purely a money making business, and there are definitely far better places to take your children and families around London (even for free). Indeed, my little boy lost interest and he was glad once it had all finished.

Book tickets to the London Aqaurium here.

Follow Hannah Crawford on Twitter @LilzCrawford