Did you know that Gentoo Penguins are the most fun loving of all penguins, and have even had a starring role in the film ‘Mr Popper’s Penguins? No – neither did I until I visited the colony of Gentoo penguins at The Deep in Hull in March 2014.
Review of The Deep in Hull
The Deep is a spectacular aquarium in Hull, which is home to over 3500 fish, sharks, rays and new for 2014 a colony of Gentoo Penguins. This was the first time we had visited The Deep and my two boys were really excited about seeing the penguins.
The aquarium is housed in an amazing purpose built building overlook the Humber Estuary just 15 minutes walk from the centre of Hull, and easily sign posted from the main motorways. There is plenty of parking and this is a very reasonable £2 for 3 hours.
The Deep consists of a self guided tour throughout the various sections of the museum which are interspersed with fish, sharks, rays and even an exhibition about slime.
Discover Sessions: Stroking a Crab
The exhibits start with The Awakening Seas section which tells the story of how the oceans were formed. It is very atmospheric and there are low level exhibitions with buttons to press which my 3 year old liked. My 1 year old was more interested in the Lagoon of Light section. This was a massive pool which contained an underwater reef and was teaming with colourful fish (think Finding Nemo). There was clear glass right to the floor which meant that my newly walking 1 year old could stand and watch the fish himself.
Whilst he was finding Nemo in the lagoon with Daddy, me and my 3 year old went to watch the Discovery Session which was taking place at the side. In this session, a member of staff was telling us about the various species which lived in the various tanks and letting us touch them. We touched the top of a crab, which we were both surprised to find was hairy. Matthew was a little bit scared of touching the crab at first, but had a big smile on his face afterwards.
The next section of The Deep was called Endless Oceans. This was where the ‘big fish’ lived. This massive tank contains over 2.5 million litres of water and is the home of sharks, giant rays and Europe’s only pair of green sawfish. We just stood and watched for ages to see what came swimming past. The sharks were so graceful and were beautiful to watch.
We carried on through the Slime Section and through the Amazon Flooded Forest towards the Penguin colony. The boys were getting more excited as we got closer. There was a little queue to see the Penguins but it was very well managed by a queue cruiser so we didn’t have to wait too long (about 5 mins)
The penguins are housed in a custom built exhibit called The Kingdom of Ice. There are currently 4 penguins and you can see them swimming, waddling around as well as learning about their natural habitat in the Antarctic. One of the best bits about this exhibition is that there is a ‘downstairs’ section to this exhibit so you can see them swimming underwater too. They were lovely little things, and me and my boys had our noses pressed against the glass watching them for a good 5 minutes.
Another highlight of The Deep is the Viewing Tunnel where you walk through a Tunnel and can see the sharks, rays and loads of other fish gliding past your head. This got the 1 year old pointing excitedly.
Back to the Surface (in a Glass Lift)
The Exit of The Deep is pretty special too. You can take a glass life up through the 10m tank to the surface. The lift stops halfway up so you can stop and have a look and it’s quite exciting when you go past the surface of the water.
We ate our lunch in the Observatory Cafe. It was quite manic when we were there so we really appreciated one of the members of staff advising us to go to the upstairs section of the cafe as it was quieter. She was right, and we enjoyed our food a lot more. There were 2 hot food options for children (chicken nuggets and beans on toast). I would have liked a few more healthier options but it was fine and priced at £3.50. There was also the Children’s Lunch Box section which was 5 items for £3.50.
I had the Lasagne with salad and garlic bread (£5.50) and my husband had fish and chips (again £5). The food was fine, and it was nice to see a salad bar too.
We really enjoyed our day out at The Deep. It is ideal for babies and toddlers – babies love watching fish swim past and there were plenty of interactive displays for toddlers. The penguins were a definite highlight – mainly because they hadn’t seen penguins before but they also enjoyed the Discovery Sessions in the Lagoon of Light. If you are looking for a day out suitable for babies and toddlers in Yorkshire, then I would recommend The Deep.
- Parking – £2 for 4 hours.
- Ticket Prices – £11.50 for Adults, £9.50 for Children (aged 3 – 15). There is a 10% discount if you book tickets online.
- Length of Visit – 2 – 3 hours. There is a cafe onsite.
- Best Time to Visit – Weekends are busy (especially since the arrival of the penguins). I would recommend visiting on weekdays if possible.
- Buggy Friendly? Yes, The Deep is buggy friendly. All of it is accessible to buggies and there are plenty of lifts to help you get between floors.
- Facilities for Babies and Toddlers – There is a baby food station (with bottle and food warming) in the Observatory Cafe. There are also baby changing units in all toilets.
- More Information – Check out The Deep website
My thanks to The Deep who hosted our day out.