Last week, as part of the half term “festivities”, we were invited to try out the new Brighton ‘Explorer Pass’, which allows you to visit (and combine) some of your favourite, all weather, Brighton attractions; The Sealife Centre, the i360, and the Royal Pavilion, for up to a fraction of the original cost.
Previously known as the ‘combi-ticket’, the Explorer Pass can be combined three ways depending on what attraction you wish to visit. As we were already visiting the Sealife centre that day, we thought we’d make a day of it and visit the i360 as well.
With our ticket, we also had the option to visit the Royal Pavilion, but we thought we’d save that for another day thanks to the Explorer Pass having a 30 day life on it from the day of purchase.
As mentioned, the Explorer Pass can save you up to 35% on entry prices when combining all three attractions, but there’s also the option to combine just two of the three attractions if your little ones aren’t up for all three or if you’ve visited one of the attractions previously and fancy doing something new. It’s really flexible. Plus, you can purchase the pass at any of the three locations on the day or online before your visit. We collected ours during our visit to the Sealife Centre.
If you’d like to read about what we got up to during our visit to the Sealife Centre, you can do so here. I’m now going to tell you what we got up to after our visit.
I’ll be honest, the i360 was never at the top of my list when it came to attractions I’d like to visit. I guess in comparison to other attractions where you’re taken on a sightseeing tour, such as the London Eye, I didn’t think, knowing what Brighton is like, that there would be much to look at – especially as half the view is sea! But I decided to give it a go seeing as T has always been keen on “the big spaceship on a stick”.
If you’re not aware of what the i360 is, it’s a futuristic glass observation pod with 360 degree views across Brighton and Hove. Designed by the same architects as the London Eye, the pod takes you up 138 meters (450 feet) up into the air for a 30 minute “flight” of the coastline and regency Brighton.
Although the weather was dry when we visited (although how awesome would it be to travel with the rain around you?), it was rather foggy, so we knew already our views were going to be limited, but on a good day – according to Sharon who’s visiting previously on a works do – you can see as far as Brighton Marina and the South Downs. Nevertheless though, we carried on as T was incredibly excited.
When we arrived, we were immediately presented with the main pod in front of us, which was sat waiting for passengers to board for the next flight. The reception and gift shop surround the area in which the pod sits which is really aesthetically pleasing – it’s hard not to get a little bit excited. This may sound stupid, but I didn’t realise how big it was!
Checking in at reception, we handed over the i360 part of our Explorer Pass in exchange for what looked like a plane ticket. i360 staff were also dressed in British Airways uniform making the whole place look and feel like an airport. Once we received our tickets, we then made our way onto security for a quick bag search and scan.
Whilst we waited for the pod to come back down from it’s previous flight, we sat and watched a short video about how the observation gallery was constructed as well as the history into it’s making. This was actually really interesting and I didn’t know how many countries got involved in the design and construction. Watching the part where it was then being built in Brighton was fascinating – especially as I remember seeing certain stages from when I used to drive past.
In addition to the video, there’s also a large lego table to keep children occupied whilst they wait. This was a wonderful treat as it meant little ones were kept busy whilst you waited. There’s also some comfy seating and some beanbags. Once the video had finished, we soon noticed the pod was in the last stage of it’s descent. It then wasn’t long before we were boarding.
The pod is surprisingly roomy. Although I didn’t expect to have to wear a hard hat, I thought that the pod would be more ‘disc’ like and it’d be more narrow. There are seats in the centre – which everyone gravitated to at the beginning – but most of the time, understandably, you’re at the windows looking out. It’s very bright, even on a cloudy, foggy day, and there is A LOT of room – so much so that children were often spotted running around the pod quite freely without bumping into one another or other passengers. In addition, there’s a ‘sky bar’ for light snacks and drinks (although there’s no toilet, so watch your liquids!)
Once T got himself comfy it wasn’t long before we were moving, although I didn’t realise at first until we were several feet up in the air! The flight is very smooth – not what I expected – and in no time we were at the top; looking over the West Pier.
Looking out, the top to floor curved viewing windows were broken up nicely (not literally!) with two handlebars to steady yourself if you needed to. I imagine this would be welcomed by people who perhaps don’t dig heights but didn’t want to miss out. T was rather confused by the windows at first and was quite nervous about reaching out to touch them, but once he did it gave him a whole new experience as he was then able to lean into the view and have a proper look.
The flight lasts for around 25-30 minutes, although it feels much longer if I’m honest. It gave us plenty of time (but not too long that you soon become bored) to have a look at everything and spot certain landmarks such as Brighton Train Station and the Royal Pavilion. It was also interesting to see the different styles of architecture and graffiti on a number of buildings. On a good day, you can apparently see as far as the Isle of Wight.
Once we arrived back on the ground, we then took a short walk around the gift shop which stocked lots of lovely souvenirs and gifts. There’s also a wide range of items from local artists. Next door is also the West Beach Bar & Kitchen, where kids eat free with a paying adult (one child per adult) upon completion of the ‘Discovery Trail’, and the West Pier Tearoom, which is built into one of the previous toll booths!
I actually really enjoyed our visit on the i360, despite the weather. It gave me the opportunity to see Brighton and Hove from a different perspective and T had fun riding in a spaceship.
Value for Money?
Looking at the different packages available, the Explorer Pass absolutely saves you money, although it’s not “cheap” per se.
Let’s break it down…
The i360 alone will cost you in the region of £50 for two adults and two children over four (0-3 are free) based on the standard ticket (the flexi ticket or online tickets vary this a little), the Royal Pavillion will cost you £31.50 for two adults and up to two children (or £19.35 for one adult and two children), and the Sealife Centre will cost you £19 on the door (or from £10.50 online) per adult and over threes (under 3’s are free) – you could be looking at over £40 for a family of four.
This means that if you wanted to visit all three in a day (or even the week) you’d be looking at around £120 up front, if not more! But with the Explorer Pass you get all three attractions for around the £100 for two adults and two children – and don’t forget the 30 day life the pass has included! The cost is obviously less if you only want to visit two of the three attractions.
There are obviously savings to be made online, visiting on certain days of the week or times of the year, or with external vouchers – so research is key – but if you decided last minute that you wanted to take a visitor on a tour of the area and around the local attractions, you’re looking at quite a bit of dosh up front. Therefore, I’d definitely recommend giving the pass a go.
We were given a complimentary Explorer Pass in exchange for an honest review, however all thoughts, opinions, and imagery are our own.