The Sydney Project: SEA Life Sydney Aquarium

This year is my son’s last year before he begins full time schooling in 2015. Welcome to our year of child-focussed activities in Sydney.

The attraction that nearly killed off The Sydney Project.

One of V’s friends A (as opposed to his sister A) had an annual pass to the SEA Life aquarium, and we thought, “well, why not, we should get one too”. We ordered online, per the website we showed up at the aquarium to pick up our pass and… waited.

And waited. And waited.

Shark tunnel
Well, to be fair, it did serve to remind me how much I love scuba diving.

They manage the annual pass process by having someone in the gift shop put them through. The queue was close to an hour in length, especially since it’s possible to impulse purchase an annual pass, and the impulse purchasers are let into the gift shop through another door and served first. I guess those of us who’ve already paid are a secondary consideration. So are our children, twitching with impatience surrounded by millions of pretty trinkets they can’t touch. So are our friends, waiting outside the gift shop so we can finally go in.

Annual pass finally issued (I have a very unattractive and grumpy photo on mine), we went inside. V was extremely impatient and darted inside. I moved to go after him when someone stepped in my way holding up a camera for the nearly obligatory family photo that they try and sell to you at the exit. “Photo?” he suggested, physically trying to herd me to the right place.

“My four year old has just run off, and I can’t see him,” I replied.

His smile faltered a little, but he kept herding me and getting between me and the corridor that V had run into. People have pointed out to me already that no doubt he was on commission, but — no. When a preschool aged child is running off in your attraction, you don’t grab their mother for a photo of the moments afterwards. “Here’s a memento of you realising we don’t give a toss about your missing child.” No.

Proceeding through the aquarium: firstly, it’s full of narrow dark corridors. This is really incompatible with my child; it makes him behave like the attraction is a maze and there’s a prize for first to solve it. It was really lucky everyone involved had an annual pass, because two families had to race through the entire thing after him while he bellowed at the top of his lungs for A to come look at whatever shiny thing had briefly attracted his attention.

In addition, one of the two underwater viewing areas was closed, and the entire thing was packed with people from beginning to end.

Luckily the annual passes are for multiple attractions, so maybe I will get a review of Madame Tussauds or Sydney Tower Eye out of it.

Cost: $40 adults, $28 children, cheaper if you buy online for non-peak periods. Children three and under are free.

Recommended: not on weekends, no. It’s like a rave without any fun bits. I’ve been there before on weekdays and it’s slightly less crowded, but it still triggers some kind of maze-running instinct in my child.

More information: SEA Life Sydney Aquarium website.

This article is part of my series The Sydney Project:Read the whole series at The Sydney Project.