…Sharks, Space and Shopping!
I really should know better than to ask the Mini Adventurer what he wants to do on an adventure, the answer will always be….”go to an aquarium”. I mean we’re pretty much qualified to be marine biologists by now 😉
Luckily I also love aquariums, they’re educational and fun for all the family, so when HRH Luka said that’s what he wanted to do on the second day of our magical mystery tour I was straight onto google. There was a few options but once I saw Sea Life Manchester I realised it was the perfect place to be.
That was because it’s at the Intu Trafford Centre, where there is also the Legoland Discovery Centre (and shopping!). Best of all they’re Merlin attractions so with our Annual Passes it was free entry! Online Saver tickets for both attractions cost £25.95 for adults and £16.95 for children (ages 3 – 17). It’s not cheap especially for a larger family but it is a full days entertainment.
First up for us was Sea Life Manchester. Now if you’ve been to one Sea Life you know what to expect as they’re all pretty much the same apart from their one “feature”, which in Manchester is a very clever video on turtles projected onto a beach which is a sweet start to the tour. While they are pretty much the same I would still always recommend a visit to a Sea Life centre as they’re a great way to spend a few hours and children and adults alike can marvel over the sea creatures, even the grumpiest teenagers seem happy to be in an aquarium.
After a couple of hours being raced around looking at fish at breakneck speeds it was time for us to hit the Legoland Discovery Centre which is next door. The Mini Adventurer was super excited to get in, having been to Legoland and absolutely loved it.
Upon entering we went into the factory “tour” which was in one room where a host explained how Lego was made and took volunteers to press the buttons to “make” it and all children were presented with their own piece at the end (adults aren’t allowed in without a child!). My only complaint is the host obviously wasn’t paying any attention as she picked the same four kids three times to join in, instead of giving every child there a chance.
Inside the attraction I was really impressed. It was unlike anything I’d been to before, it really was like a miniature Legoland but inside (great on a rainy Manchester day). There are a few small rides (electric cars, a laser shooting ride and a small flying roundabout ride – which was actually quite a good workout as you had to pedal to go higher!). There’s also a mini Miniland (where we were inspired to go to Blackpool on the next part of our adventure), a Ninjago section and of course lots of Lego building stations. Luka particularly liked the big car area in the middle where you can build your own racer and try it out down the ramps.
There really is something for everyone, even the little ones have a Duplo area, so we would totally recommend a visit for the whole family. Luka loved his visit and he doesn’t play with Lego a lot, if you have a Lego obsessed child it’s an absolute must.
We were there for hours and in all honesty could have stayed longer but by then it was late afternoon and it was time to satisfy our tummies. Luckily at the Trafford Centre there was no worries about going hungry with about 40 different fast food venues, restaurants and coffee shops to pick from, with most of the offerings being chain type restaurants such as Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Wagamama.
Tummies full we set out to do some shopping. Well when I could drag Luka away from the fountains, there was one that shot water up past the second floor that Luka insisted on watching for a good 15 minutes!
We hit the toy stores but I know better than to go shopping for me with him. Seriously I guessed he was a boy before he was born because the only time I experienced Braxton Hicks was when I attempted to do any shopping! I could stand at a rugby game for hours absolutely fine but walk into a store and I was doubled over in pain within seconds!! He gets bored, I get terribly stressed and flustered and it’s just not a relaxing experience, which is a bit of a shame as he has really amazing taste in clothes for me!
I’m not much of a shopper myself so I wasn’t that bothered but for those of you that do like to hit the stores, the Trafford Centre have thought of you. Not only are there buggies and mini cars to rent for the tiny ones, there’s an actual crèche to leave the kids in while you shop until you drop! And at just under £10 for two hours child free shopping it could be a total stress saver if you have a child like mine, or perhaps offer you a bit of one on one time with an older child whilst a younger one plays.
I can’t say I’d normally recommend a weekend away at a shopping centre (especially with a Mini Adventurer!) but for the Trafford Centre, and Manchester I would make an exception. Whether it’s fish or fashion that floats your boat (that’s a sentence I never expected to write!) there’s something to keep the family entertained all day, and in the area there’s plenty of other attractions to do to make a weekend of it.
Here are my other top Manchester attractions:
- Old Trafford
- CBBC Tour at Media City
- Greater Manchester Police Museum
- Manchester Spy Mission Treasure Trail
Or alternatively do we did and use it as a springboard to head elsewhere, Blackpool is just an hours drive away.