ellaslist Reviews: A World of Fun Awaits at Darling Harbour

  • All Ages

Surrounded by waterways and shining skyscrapers, Sydney's Darling Harbour is our equivalent to the French Riviera (minus the jaw-dropping costs!). Littered with water activities, Michelin-star-worthy restaurants and nooks and crannies waiting to be explored and adored, Darling Harbour is one of Sydney's most-visited entertainment venues.

So, what offerings are there for families with children? If, like me, you have four children ranging in ages from two to nine years old, finding an attraction that'll cater to all of their interests is always a tall order, that is until we spent the day meeting curious creatures, native wildlife, underwater villages, famous faces and more all under the one roof.

Welcome to a marvellous little discovery in the heart of Darling Harbour that houses WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, and Madame Tussauds and is loaded with hours of entertainment for the whole family. 

Darling Harbour: Three Experiences Under One Roof

1. WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo 

Wild Life Sydney Zoo
First stop: the animal kingdom!

What's remarkable about WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is that there is literally a zoo in Darling Harbour! What I've discovered with small children is… they simply move to the beat of their own drum. For me, I've learnt that sightseeing and places of interest need to be offered in bite-sized pieces and with as many 'hands-on' activities as possible. All of this was delivered at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo.

There are 10 interactive zones for kids to get excited about at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo: daily keeper talks, such as the Koala and Crocodile Talks, and our family's favourite, the 'New Tree Kangaroo' talk introducing Kofi the adorable and boiled-egg-eating Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo. 

As you meander through the impressive close-up displays and enclosures, you can't help but feel like you are being transported into the wild, and YOU are the one on display and not the animals. The Devil's Den was a favourite amongst the kids (and big kids – I don't think I've ever been so close to a wombat or echidna before!).

2. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium 

Sydney aquarium
Day & Night on the Reef.

Next up on our Darling Harbour adventure, it was off to the aquarium. For those of you who are looking for a sea change but don't want to get wet, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium has got you covered.

Get ready for nine major interactive zones and an impressive array of exhibits packed into your underwater adventure. Enter Shark Valley, where you will come face-to-face with the Whitetip Reef Shark and the Tawny Nurse Shark (to name a few!). Visit the Penguin enclosure to watch the playful Gentoo Penguins, and explore and fall in love with the colourful displays at the illuminative Day & Night on the Reef (my favourite).

Sydney Aquarium
We got up close and personal with some aquatic critters.

Kids will love the Moonlight Beach and the Rockpool interactive zone where they can play, touch and explore shark eggs, sea stars and anemones, to name a few surprises. And while on their underwater adventure (and without them even knowing), they'll absorb fun facts and trivia to feed their curiosities - just a bonus for us parents!

3. Madame Tussauds Sydney 

Madam Tussauds
E.T. phone home!

Although it's nestled between WILD Sydney Zoo and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Sydney is an adventure worlds away from the animals and managed to surprise us the most.

Madame Tussauds is a fun, family-friendly, interactive attraction filled with the rich and famous wax figures and 'Who's Who' of both past and present. Prepare to be star-struck as well as awestruck with the absolute next best thing to meeting some of your favourite stars of the silver screen in person. 

Whether you are part of the 'Little Monsters' army for Lady Gaga, a Home and Away/Neighbours wannabe, or a Brangelina fan, feel free to wander around, strike a pose and snap away to your heart's content for your Insta feed.  

The Justice League are right at home at Madame Tussauds.
Marvel are right at home at Madame Tussauds.

For the younger family members, who wouldn't love seeing their Marvel and Justice League superheroes within a few metres of each other. They won't be disappointed! 

ellaslist's Top Tips When Visiting Merlin's Darling Harbour Attractions

  • I highly recommend purchasing your tickets online before you go to save yourself some time at the gate, and don't forget to book your attraction time slot - it guarantees entry. This can be found on each of the attraction sites under 'Tickets & Passes'. 
  • Make the most of all the extras on offer at all three attractions, such as photos on entry, animal feeding times, and of course, a stop at the gift shop!
  • If you have time up your sleeve, save yourself some money and book a multiple attraction pass with Merlin's amazing combo passes that unlock up to 4 attractions in Sydney!

Check out More ellaslist Reviews

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Awesome Things to do at Lane Cove National Park
ellaslist Reviews Birthday Parties at Calmsley Hill City Farm

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