SEA LIFE Brighton will be undertaking a planned structural maintenance programme which regrettably involves closing a small part of the attraction from 3rd September. From this time, the auditorium and ocean viewing tunnel will be closed to the general public whilst restorations are undertaken.
We are looking forward to relaunching in spring 2019 with a few exciting additions and a brand new theme to look forward to as part of the new experience.
In the meantime, here are some Q+A's that you may find useful.
Is it true you’re closing?
No it’s not true. However, we will be draining the ocean display for several months between September 2018 and spring 2019, but we do not envisage this causing massive disruption to your visit.
Why are you closing the auditorium and ocean display?
Since 2012 SEA LIFE Brighton has been involved in a full site restoration programme and this is the final phase of structural work. Being the oldest operating aquarium in the world, with Grade II listed heritage, we have a responsibility to the building and the safety of our visitors, staff and creatures to ensure structural integrity is maintained.
How long are you closed for?
We can confirm restoration will start on Monday 3rd September with a planned relaunch in time for Easter 2019. The structural works are very complex and until we have full access the nature of the works is relatively unknown and therefore a confirmed launch announcement will be made in early 2019.
Will there be a full attraction closure?
SEA LIFE Brighton hope that the restoration will not impact the rest of the attraction and therefore with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there is no planned full site closure at this time.
How much is being invested in this project?
Since 2012, Merlin Entertainments Plc has invested over £4 million to ensure the oldest operating aquarium in the world is restored to the highest standard and is fully committed to spending whatever money is necessary to complete the restoration programme.
What is happening to the creatures in the ocean display?
Due to the nature of the works it is not possible to complete the refurbishment whilst there is water and creatures in the ocean display. The husbandry of all our animals is always our priority and some are being moved permanently to other SEA LIFE attractions, whilst others will be kept in quarantine facilities in our central animal welfare facility.
Both our beloved turtles will temporarily be returned to their former homes. Lulu has gone back to Blackpool and Gulliver is enjoying a holiday in Birmingham. We’re pleased to say that they've both settled in well.
Will all the animals be returning?
Merlin Entertainments Plc are opening an exciting new attraction in Birmingham called the Bear Grylls and we are excited and proud that our Black Tip Reef Sharks will be featured in this new attraction. It is expected that all other creatures will return to Brighton when we re-launch the area in 2019.
Will we be getting any new creatures when we relaunch?
Of course, we have exciting plans to introduce some great new creatures to what is promising to be a Europe first in our new ocean display.
Was this area of the building ever unsafe?
No. At no point have the auditorium and ocean viewing tunnel ever been a concern in terms of health and safety to visitors, staff or animals and all of the work we are undertaking is preventative and future proofing.
Annual inspections are carried out by structural engineers as part of the ongoing commitment to the restoration of the building.
How will the restoration work impact visitor experience?
With the exception of not being able to view the ocean display, we will try to keep disruption to an absolute minimum. Where possible the builders are instructed to keep noise and invasive works to a bare minimum during our normal opening hours.
As the ocean display is closed, it goes without saying the Glass Bottom Boat will not be operational and VIP experiences, animal feeds and talks have been adapted.
How do the restoration works affect accessibility?
Due to reduction in surface area, we have taken the decision to reduce our overall visitor capacity accordingly. This may result in longer queues and greater benefit of booking tickets in advance to guarantee entry. Due to updated fire risk assessment, we will be operating a reduced number of wheelchairs permitted on site at any one time.
Has the price been impacted by the ocean closure?
No. We are still priced in the Off Peak rate, as we believe the disruption will be minimal and the SEA LIFE Brighton experience still offers great value for money.
How will I get to see parts of the attraction I missed?
We will be inviting all our visitors* back free of charge, to enjoy the full experience following the relaunch of the ocean display. In effect you will therefore be receiving two tickets for the price of one by way of an apology for any disruption and disappointment that the building works may have caused.
*Excludes trade groups
I am coming with a large group to the attraction. How does this impact me?
It should have very minimal impact however during this time we can no longer offer the auditorium as a refuge for eating packed lunches. Other provisions will try to be found but not guaranteed.
I am an Annual Pass Holder. How does this impact me?
As stated in the Merlin Annual Pass Terms and Conditions (condition 10), Merlin reserves the right to close, remove or cancel all or any part of the facilities within the attraction and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
If I have any further questions, how can I make contact?
Any questions relating to the closure must be directed to our Guest Experience Manager at Jamie.firstname.lastname@example.org who will answer any questions you may have.