My visit to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth.
Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Free carer with discounted disabled adult price
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: No
Accessible Toilets: Yes
I visited the Blue Reef Aquarium on 9th October with a friend. I couldn’t find any information on the attraction’s website regarding accessibility, therefore it seemed even more important to review it.
There are two car parks available, both of which are owned by the local council. One of these is located behind the attraction and another on the right hand side of it. These are free for blue badge holders and have designated blue badge spaces. There are tariff charges for those without a blue badge.
The attraction is a very short walk or wheel away from both car parks, and the area is smoothly paved which makes for easy access. The doors are automatic, making getting inside the building even easier. Accessible toilets are available by the entrance and shop.
Concessions are available for disabled guests which include free admission for one carer, which I really appreciated. It’s actually cheaper if you book your tickets online (even if you only do it an hour before you go).
The attraction consists of a walkway which you follow throughout to see all of the creatures. This was poorly lit in places, which I appreciate is likely to be for the benefit of the marine life; but is worth noting if you have any problems with sight. The walkway is comfortably wide, and I could easily stop to look at something without fearing being in other people’s way who were trying to get past.
Most of the tanks and information displays were at a reasonable height, so those in wheelchairs would be able to see clearly. There are two displays which require you to climb steps to see, which was a little disappointing.
One thing that I struggled with was the design of the otter enclosure. It had clearly been designed to stop people leaning over and putting their hands in, but this meant there was a wooden bar and very hazy glass at eye level for me and I couldn’t see the otters for most of the Otter Talk. This is demonstrated in the picture below.
The ‘Seal Cove’ area is however very accessible with ramps surrounding it and various ways to view the seals.
Overall, this attraction is pretty accessible, it’s just a shame that disabled guests miss out on one or two things due to visual obstructions or stairs. This is perhaps fairly reflected in the slightly reduced entry fee for disabled people. If you enjoy animals and aquatics, I’d recommend visiting!
Thank you for reading!