THE Blue Planet Aquarium will soon face stiff competition from a £6.5m rival at The Trafford Centre.
Due to open in June, Sea Life aquarium, operated by global visitor attraction operator Merlin – who run Alton Towers and Thorpe Park – will be situated in a 36,000 sq ft site in the middle of the centre.
The attraction is expected to create about 40 new jobs
It is the first real threat to the unique experiences offered at the Blue Planet since it was opened by the Queen in July 1998 at a cost of £12m.
The aquarium will see tanks filled with a million litres of water – Blue Planet’s main tank holds four times that – and feature more than 5,000 creatures, 30 spectacular marine displays – Blue Planet has more than 100 – and, like the Cheshire Oaks attraction, an underwater tunnel.
Russell Barnes, divisional director Midway Developments at Merlin Entertainments, said: “At Sea Life we’re passionate about preserving marine habitats and protecting the incredible species that live in them.
“Marine conversation is at the heart of everything we do – supporting projects across the world to inspire more people to care. We look forward to sharing this with the people of Manchester when they visit what we are confident will be one of our best attractions to date.
“The Trafford Centre has proved a brilliant location for us so far, with the Legoland Discovery Centre providing one of our most successful launches and we are confident that Sea Life will also thrive in this – one of the best shopping centres in the country.”
Visitors to Sea Life will see sharks, rays, seahorses and jellyfish and be able to hold a crab or touch a starfish in its ‘interactive touchpool’.