I’ve got a rather bizarre relationship with aquariums. From a very small age all the way up to my thirties, I was phobic of fish – even pictured in magazines would elicit a fight or flight reaction from me. Numerous people had tried to cure this – from my infamous visit to Scarborough Sealife in my teens when my Father had to carry me through the tunnel as I was curled up in the foetal position refusing to move, to the pet goldfish people bought me for my room that I could barely feed without feeling faint. The fish were cared for, but I remember that pimply feeling of dread creeping over my body when it came to feeding or cleaning them out – it used to take me a whole day to clean the tank as I’d have to psyche myself up for it.
That changed when I fell pregnant.
I didn’t want to pass on this phobia. I didn’t want my son being so afraid of fish, that he never learned to swim as irrationally he connected fish and water and associated the two. So when Mike and Ted’s brother and sister went to Alton Towers, I went too. With one goal in mind. I’d conquer Sharkbait Reef. On my own. Well, Ted was in my belly at this point and it did spur me forward, but.. In the action itself I would conquer it. I also began watching hundreds of documentaries on sealife, with sharks being my favourite thing to binge watch.
Well, with the hours of documentaries and all those visits to Sharkbait Reef – it worked. I love aquariums now, and couldn’t wait to visit Blue Planet Aquarium with Ted and Mikes family when we visited them on the other side of the Pennines. I recently visited The Deep in Hull and proclaimed it as one of the best aquariums I had visited – would Blue Planet take that title away from them?
I did find the layout very disjointed – thankfully we didn’t have the pram when we visited as the lift was broken. We had opted to walk Ted around and it worked in our favour as there was three flights of stairs between levels, which wouldn’t have worked well if I’d have come with my parents due to Mum being in a wheelchair!
The top level was dedicated to fish from the Amazon such as Piranhas, with a specialised exhibit on Lake Malawi. I enjoyed the various specialised sections as it explained clearly what species were from where – they even had an entire exhibit dedicated to frogs. Even those funky disco coloured tree frogs!
The major draw of Blue Planet is the automated escalator floors that take you through the two shark tunnels. They’re fantastic, and really helpful if you – like me – have an armful of wriggling toddler to try and control while having a look at the underwater world around you. These were turned off partway through our visit sadly, but you could still walk through the tunnels and enjoy the sights.
After the tunnels, you’re treated to a spider exhibit – including a Perspex tube you can stand up in so you are surrounded by the hairy critters. The restaurant is settled in after that experience, and the day we went it was sectioned off for various school visits. The staff did let Mike into a section to settle Ted and give him some dinner, so huge thanks for that – being in the same section as a school class would result in Ted being too distracted to eat as he tries to say hi to everyone.
I really enjoyed the visit, but The Deep is still my favourite. Blue Planet was almost £60 for me, Mike and Mikes Mum to attend with Ted – a huge cost. That didn’t include the costs at the restaurant, although if you park your car in the car park you get a free coffee which Mike appreciated.
With The Deep ticket prices including annual passes, I can’t really recommend Blue Planet over them.. But it was a lovely day out, if a little pricey!