Despite living in Cheshire for the best part of 14 years we had never visited Spaceport or taken the ferry across the Mersey to Liverpool. So this week when we combined both activities and had a fun filled, educational, family Sunday.
We headed over to Spaceport for 10 am when it opened, which I would recommend you do too if you decide to visit as we had the whole place to ourselves for the first half an hour, which was really nice. We were greeted by staff and asked if we wanted to do a 4 minute introduction, which we did. The introduction was really informative and my 8 year old was fascinated by it, although our 6 year old was a little bored. You can miss this is out and if you have small children you may want to but if you have any over 7 I would say it is worth a go as it takes place inside a space pod and consists of a short video of outer space and a voice over setting the tone for the day.
From here you go in to the first main area which is set up like a museum with lot of interesting exhibits and displays all about space, the earth and the sun and unlike some museums there are a lot of hands on interactive areas for the children to get involved in. Simple things like pressing a button to answer a question and turning wheels to make things move but stuff that got both our kids wanting to have a go and discovery the correct answer, learning whilst having fun.
In this first section there is also a pinball type game which was a favourite with the boys and lead to some great competition to see who could get the balls past the asteroids and into Neptune first, trust me this was harder than it sounds.
From the solar system area you can choose to walk through a worm hole that leads to the Milky way section or take a short cut to the right if you need to avoid the flashing lights. As it suggests this area is geared up for learning about the Milky way and our favourite activity in here was the four player multiple choice quiz. This quiz is similar to one from a game show where you need to select A,B or C before the timer runs out and at the end a score is calculate out of 10 for each player. It was great fun to be able to go up against each other especially as at the end of each quiz there is also a game where you need to navigate the rocket around space without hitting the asteroids, so if your Milky way knowledge isn’t the strongest you can still win if your rocket driving is the best. By the time we had left we had played this quiz that much that our eldest had memorised the answers, what a fab way to learn without even realising it.
There is also an upstairs in the Spaceport which is again filled with interactive learning stations including two different games that can be played on computer screens that are great for hand eye co-ordination as they get quicker as you get better. As well as a quiet drawing area where you can use trace paper to copy space related pictures from the tables which are tiddler had us doing for quite some time as he loves to draw and colour. This room is ideal for the smaller members of your party as it’s bright and colourful and also relaxed.
The upstairs also contains a Star wars exhibit, unfortunately this was a bit lost on our boys as they haven’t watched star wars and were not too interested in looking at the figures but it would be perfect for any star wars fans out there as they even have a whole collection of light sabers.
When we arrived we were told that at 11 am there would be an announcement for the simulator and at 11:30 another one for the video room. We decided to check both of these out and I would advise that you ask what times these are taking place f you aren’t told on arrival so that you can listen out for the announcements and get the most from your trip.
The simulator is on the ground floor between the solar system and the milky way areas. You climb on board and then watch the screen as you experience what it would be like to ride the tracks on a roller coaster rocket in out of space as the simulator moves around. Both my boys loved this and I think it is a real treat for the children so do have a go if you get chance, personally I felt a bit sick and was glad we didn’t have to ride it again!
The video takes place in the space dome theater where you sit in reclined seats and look up at the ceiling. The film lasts for 25 minutes and is geared for older children and adults and I felt it was a bit long for small children as our 6 year old got a little board and distracted towards the end, however our 8 year old sat still, mesmerized by the moving ceiling and taking in all the information and really enjoyed it. Again this is about knowing your child but personally I would recommend for those aged 7/8 on wards.
We stayed at Spaceport for 2 hours, we probably could have stayed for an extra half an hour playing on the games a little more but we needed to catch our ferry and I imagine if you go on a busy day you could stay even longer as you would have to wait to go on some of the games but as we picked a perfectly quiet day we didn’t have to queue for anything and got round quiet quickly.
The price for a family ticket to the Spaceport is £26 which is for two adults and up to three children and this allows you to stay all day should you wish which I think is great value for money. Spaceport is open to all ages although I would recommend it for those aged 6 and over and maybe even leaning more to those closer to 8 as there is a lot of reading to do in order to understand the games. It’s a great educational environment and would work perfectly alongside the syllabus for those learning about space.
If you are able to make a day of it you can combine your ticket with a Mersey ferry ticket for £41 for the family and this allows you to travel on the ferry from Seacombe, where space port is, to Woodside where you can also access the u boat museum and then catch the ferry again to Liverpool where you can explore some free museums, hit the shops or grab some lunch before catching the ferry back to Seacombe again.
We chose to do the combined ticket and had such a wonderful day. The Mersey ferry must be the most colourful one in the UK making it super exciting and appealing for children. There is plenty of seating both inside and out, upstairs and down, so you can enjoy the views what ever the weather.
Whilst on board the ferry the educational experience still doesn’t stop as a recording comes on as you set off that is only short but very interesting as well various information posts on board that you can read at your leisure should you wish.
The ferry’s are regular, coming back from Liverpool every hour on the hour until 6pm, so you really can make a full day of it without having to stress about the tunnel or parking in Liverpool, which is usually the thing that puts me off visiting the city.
The whole day was wonderful and I would highly recommend to others families.
(We were gifted our tickets in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own).