SEALIFE™ London Aquarium

Client: Merlin Entertainment
Construction budget: £5million
Completion date: 2009

Located in the Grade II* County Hall on London’s South Bank, the aquarium underwent a programme of refurbishment and redesign and was rebranded to form part of the SEALIFE™ franchise – Merlin’s No 1 global aquarium brand – shortly after Merlin acquired the attraction in 2008. 

The relaunch  of the new SEA LIFE London Aquarium was supported by a very heavy PR campaign which included am official  opening by London Mayor Boris Johnson in April 2009 who described it as an ‘absolutely fantabulous attraction!’

The visitor experience was vastly improved taking the very best of the SEA LIFE elements including greatly improved areas and environment for the marine creatures, the addition of several child-friendly tanks and 14 new zones ranging from shipwrecks to shorelines and rock pools to rainforests. Significant improvements were also made to the visitor route around  the attraction, supported by exciting new graphics, information and signage in line with other SEA LIFE attractionsThis  new streamlined navigation system designed to allow the aquarium to tell a coherent story about marine life and climate change.

General Manager Toby Forer had these comments on the aquarium’s new positioning as a ‘leading centre of Marine Conservation’:

“Our ultimate aim is to tell a serious eco-story in an entertaining way. Wecall it ‘fun learning’ and believe we’ve now got the perfect blend of visual spectacle, interactivity and access to aquatic experts to make a visit here a truly memorable and thought-provoking experience.”

Two of the major new features were  an underwater tunnel stretching through the Atlantic Tank which brings guests closer than ever to Europe’s largest collection of Cownose Rays; whilst a floating ‘Shark Walk’ exhibit with a viewing box in the floor allows visitors to see five species of sharks swimming inches under their feet, a first for any SEALIFE aquarium.  Since the relaunch several other exciting new areas including both crocodile and penguin areas have also been added.

As well has improving the visitor experience, visitor numbers saw an immediate and  significant increase following the refurbishment underlining the SEALIFE London Aquarium’s position as one of London’s most popular attractions.

Images: Merlin Events and David Steadman

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