Cameron and Carly absolutely love the Ocotnauts. They have a few of the DVDs and they often play with the octopod Cameron got for one of this birthdays pretending to be Kwazii and Peso. They also both love animals, and sealife in particular. One of their favourite places locally is the oceanarium so when I was offered the chance to take the children to Weymouth Sealife Centre to review their Octonauts Octo-Glow Explorer event I didn’t hesitate.
Weymouth is an hour’s drive away from us and we arrived at the centre just after eleven. The queue was quite long and, as you can imagine for during the summer holidays, it was fairly busy inside. There are photo opportunities dotted around the park which I enjoyed, but my mum wasn’t keen on as she doesn’t like having her photo taken.
On entry we had been given two activity packs for the children to complete. One was the dive log book, which required the children to collect 12 embossed stamps from around the park. The second was an Octonauts activity sheet, for the event, which had spaces for stickers to be added.
As it was nearing half past eleven, we got in the queue for the Octonauts Octo-Glow Explorers event. Due to the size of marquee, the park staff were only allowed to let in a certain number of people, and we were the last in. Having queued for the past 10 minutes I wouldn’t have been very happy if I were the people behind. Perhaps there could have been a staff member keeping track of numbers beforehand to combat this (although it is worth noting that the event runs throughout the day).
On entry to the Octonauts event we were provided with another photo opportunity, this time in front of a green screen. Miraculously we managed to have all three kids looking at the camera at one time, and I made a mental note to take a look later. The children were given an Octonauts pop badge and encouraged to join in with the activities dotted around the marquee.
As we were the last people in, soon afterwards the character arrived and people started queuing up to meet Kwazii so the children didn’t get a chance to complete all the activities, which was a shame however they did enjoy the meet and greet and I was able to take a photo of them alongside the member of staff, which isn’t always allowed, so that was good.
On the way out the children were given another Octonauts pop badge and the stickers for their activity sheet, which Cameron enjoyed completing, but Carly decided she would rather stick the stickers on herself instead!
I would say the Octonauts Octo-Glow Explorers event was most suited for children aged 3-6, as Cameron was getting a little too old for the activities but younger children may have struggled with them or been scared of the character. I must admit I was surprised at how small the event was as I had expected a little more, but the children enjoyed it and, as the rest of the park is full of other areas to explore, it wasn’t an issue for us and a nice addition to our day at the park.
Going around an attraction like the Sealife Centre with the young children can mean missing out certain areas due to boredom, but as they had the logbooks to complete, we were guided around the park and encouraged to go in each area. The kids loved seeing the different sealife. Carly especially enjoyed the seahorse and spotting ‘Nemo’ and ‘Dory’ together in one of the tanks! They loved adding their own stamp at the end of each area, although a couple of the embossments had worn away and it was frustrating to not get an image from them.
As well as the sealife, the centre also has lots of other areas to keep kids occupied including a Splash pool (we forgot to bring the swimming stuff unfortunately), sensory garden, wooden outside play area as well as several amusement games (at an additional charge) and a large Caribbean Cove play area by the exit.
There are a few interactive parts of the park which the children enjoyed, such as being able to activate the bubbles in the seal enclosure, and new for 2017 is the addition of the Turtle Rescue, which was hands down our favourite part of the park.
I’d been informed about it beforehand so we knew to look out for it but it was a little tucked away, just past the seal enclosure, so make sure you don’t miss it!
Going in, you are encouraged to answer the phone which rings to help with an emergency. The kids weren’t too keen on this bit but fortunately it didn’t matter that they didn’t answer the call and, as they entered the room, handy signs led them around and told them what to do. There was also a member of staff on hand to help and provide further information as required.
Donning a lab coat, and picking their turtle from a pile, the kids were then asked to weigh and name their turtles. Cameron called his Hunter and Carly chose the name Lionel.
As they moved around the room they were then encouraged to feed their turtles, give them an x ray and rehydrate them before releasing them back into the wild (which Carly found quite hard after having become very attached to Lionel).
The children had lots of fun, and I really loved how interactive this area was. It was reminiscent of tamagotchis, which were popular when I was at school, and I really like that it encouraged the children to consider and care for another being. It definitely helped get the message across that turtles are often endangered and need to be cared for by humans.
As we walked around the park we managed to witness a couple of the demonstrations, despite not going out of our way to do so, and these gave a further opportunity to get involved (although my kids were too scared to touch the starfish so I had to make my mum do it for the picture).
Although busy, other than at the otter feeding demonstration, we didn’t really notice the crowds and it didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves.
Towards the end of the park is the photo collection point. Individual photos are priced at £10 (or £8 for a keychain). There are also bundled packages priced from £25, useful if you choose more than one photo. We only really liked the Octonauts photo of us so we went for an individual print.
Ten pounds is fairly standard for a photo in this kind of attraction, although a little steep, but I was disappointed to find that this didn’t include a digital copy and the print quality wasn’t as good as I expected. I’m happy to say that the customer service was brilliant when I queried this at the shop, and the manager of the external photo company Tony, who was on site, was able to reprint our photo for us (and also allowed us to have the digital copy as a gesture of goodwill).
As with all attractions, the gift shop is a minefield on the way out for children, although I was pleasantly surprised to see items at a range of price points and several special offers including 3 for 2 deals (brilliant for people like us with the three kids).
We were at the park for four hours and this was just the right amount of time for us to go around the park and stop for a picnic and a play for the kids.
It’s worth considering this as the car park is pay and display and you will need to enter the amount of hours you wish to park for when you arrive.
Overall we had a fantastic day. The weather had been a bit rubbish on arrival, but this wasn’t an issue as there’s plenty of indoor activities should it rain, and it actually brightened up for us as the day went on.
I think the logbooks are a brilliant idea as they kept the children interested right up until the end (where they get another pop badge for showing their completed book), and also encouraged us to take everything in. I also really liked how interactive the park is for kids, and how many different animals there are to see, there’s a lot more to see and do than at the oceanarium.
It was a little frustrating having activities with additional charges dotted around the park as children inevitably will ask to go on them. Most were only £1 but we were a bit shocked by the prize every time game which was priced at £5 (the prizes weren’t even worth this amount).
I did feel the photos were also priced quite high as they didn’t include the digital download (lets face it, in this day and age everyone wants to put their picture on social media so this really should be provided as standard) but you don’t have to purchase these if you don’t wish to.
Generally the Sealife Centre is worth a visit and I would definitely recommend going before the kids go back to school as the Octonauts event is a nice addition to the park. It’s worth noting that the park does offer a discounted rate for purchasing tickets in advance online, and I like that you can choose an afternoon entrance ticket at a further discounted rate (worth doing as the park will generally be quieter as the day goes on anyway).
The Octonauts Octo-Glow Explorers event is on until 28th August.
We were provided free entry to the Sealife Centre for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts, photos and opinions are my own.