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“Curate's Egg”

Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium
Ranked #19 of 72 things to do in Winchester
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Owner description: Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium is a self-funded, educational charity dedicated to sparking curiosity and building science capital for all. It is an important regional hub for informal science learning and a popular visitor attraction for families, schools and the general public. Featuring two floors of hands-on interactive exhibits, the UK’s largest standalone planetarium and an exciting events programme. The Science Centre is situated just outside of the historic city of Winchester in the South Downs National Park. Visitors can enjoy direct access to Magdalen Hill Down, the neighbouring Butterfly Conservation reserve, and make use of the Centre's own outdoor picnic and play area. A 10% discount can be obtained on general admission by purchasing tickets online at least one day in advance. Pre-booking is recommended during school holidays. A cafe, shop and onsite parking is available. During peak times a satellite car park and shuttle bus service is provided.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Reviewed 6 April 2018 via mobile

Our kids (8 & 11) had a perfectly good time, although they didn't have to be removed at closing time like many places we visit, they were finished in 4hrs (including time out for a packed lunch). The live show in the Science Marquee was great but the rest was rather disjointed and the planetarium show not at all good. To their credit they listened to our concerns and offered recompense, and all the staff were pleasant during our visit.

Thank HFoster71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WSC M, Public Relations Manager at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, responded to this reviewResponded 25 April 2018

Thank you for visiting Winchester Science Centre and for taking the time to leave us a review - we really appreciate your feedback.

We are pleased to hear that yourself and your family enjoyed the live science show and found our staff to be helpful and friendly, though we're sorry to hear that you were not as impressed with the planetarium show. Often these showings are a highlight for our visitors, so we would recommend perhaps watching a different showing next time you visit us.

Also, we are currently developing a brand new interactive zone on our lower exhibition floor, due to launch in time for the summer holidays, so do keep an eye out for that.

We look forward to welcoming you back again soon!

Best wishes,
Winchester Science Centre

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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31 - 35 of 920 reviews

Reviewed 6 April 2018 via mobile

We took chikdren of 8 and 11yrs abd we stayed 5 hours . We expected a lot of people as schook holidays abd weather was dreadful raining . What we did bot expect was the car parking chaos. They really needed to sort out and stop cars e entering at tbe entrance sone way put a person or sign up as chaos with everyone turning around to exit to go to the park and ride. Otherwise woukd have given 5 stars. As a wonderful day out so much to do. Kniw one had to wait but to be expected. The planetarium was superb as was hit soubds show. Will go again but ensure we do not gi on a holiday tine. Goid idea to taje your own food places . The places are limited but people were good when finished eating vacated quickly.

Thank stevHerts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WSC M, Public Relations Manager at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, responded to this reviewResponded 25 April 2018

Thank you for visiting Winchester Science Centre and for taking the time to leave us a review - we really appreciate your feedback.

We are pleased to hear that yourself and your family had such a wonderful day out with us and enjoyed the planetarium experience. We appreciate your feedback on the parking situation and apologise for the inconvenience caused - during school holidays our car park does fill up particularly quickly and we are currently reviewing other options.

We look forward to welcoming you back again soon!

Best wishes,
Winchester Science Centre

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Reviewed 5 April 2018

This place is the most disorganised place I have ever visited. they sold so many tickets, , far more than the venue can really accommodate for anyone to have a glimmer of hope to enjoy any kind of experience at all. The car park is far too small and was gridlocked by 10am (even tho the venue opens at 10am). we were stuck in a jam for ages until finally diverted to the overflow car park down the road. The inept staff were turning cars away once they reached the car park rather than at the main road entrance and causing big jams. only 1 of the buses from the overflow took pushchairs, so when it was on a 1hr lunch break during heavy rain, how are you supposed to get to/from the venue. The queues were out the venue entrance in the pouring rain with no shelter, queued for ages even though we prebooked tickets. We almost missed our plantetarium show, even though we allowed 90mns beforehand. The venue sold so many tickets, there were so many people they were crowding and pushing at every activity. There was no way anyone could enjoy, interact or understand what they were doing at all. We queued 20mins for a coffee. And then found there was nowhere for the family to sit. It's such a shame because the activities are excellent and the planetarium and speaker are excellent. But being so overly packed completely ruined the experience. As a family of 4 we paid over £50 and left after 1hr because it was so unbarable.So very disappointed with this. How this attraction can be so badly organised is beyond me. It makes me angry and sad because my child could have learned and enjoyed so much here

Thank rpowd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WSC M, Public Relations Manager at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, responded to this reviewResponded 25 April 2018

Thank you for visiting Winchester Science Centre and for taking the time to leave us a review - we really appreciate your feedback.

We are pleased to hear that you found our activities and planetarium excellent, but are very sorry you did not feel you could enjoy the experience on this particular visit. We will take your feedback very seriously and pass this onto the relevant members of staff in the hope that we can deliver a more organised and enjoyable experience during the May half term.

We do hope you will visit us again soon!

Best wishes,
Winchester Science Centre

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Reviewed 31 March 2018 via mobile

Already planned to go brought ticket online saved 10% then raining all day what a result.. perfect wet weather plan.

It was a public holiday so very busy but extremely well run so things were smooth.

Highly recommend adding the planetarium ticket if you’ve not been to one before great experience for the whole family (we took an 8 year old)

Some hands on experiments were broken sadly but not many.

The Hub sold basic lunch food but high quality and reasonable

The staff at every point were amazing enthusiastic helpful and professional. Unfortunately due to a minor accident we even tested out the first aid provision which were exceptional

Highly recommend if you heading Thai way in a wet day. BUT book in advance

Thank Cclifford75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WSC M, Public Relations Manager at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, responded to this reviewResponded 4 April 2018

Thank you for visiting Winchester Science Centre this Easter Weekend and for taking the time to leave such a lovely review!

We are very pleased to hear that you enjoyed your visit and the planetarium experience, and hope to welcome you and your family back soon.

Visitors can save 10% if they book online and in advance, and an additional 10% can be saved when booking more than 3 tickets.

Best wishes, Winchester Science Centre

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Reviewed 31 March 2018

There's quite a lot to say about this place so apologies in advance for going on so long...

Background to visit
I'm a former teacher of physics, chemistry and electronics and as local to the place, have used it professionally on occasions from the very first when it went under the name of Intech. This particular visit was with my four year old grandson who is pretty switched on to tech type stuff. First day of the easter school holiday for many local pupils and the weather was poor.

Parking
Car parking is free and although not huge, there seemed to be sufficient if you include some of the unmade areas there. Mostly full when we arrived at around 11am.

Buildings
What was an innovative building now has that sad appearance of old reinforced concrete. The main entrance isn't really inviting and the large aluminium-framed entrance looked every bit like 1980's double glazing. There's a substantial marquee at the back used for additional space, linked to the lower level by another tent-like structure. These need a more permanent replacement. The main areas still need sound deadening after all these years. I'd have trouble with the background levels and the echoes if I wore a hearing aid.

Prices
Adult £12 with concessions to over 60 and students (£9.60). Kids £8.40. Planetarium £3.50 each as an add-on but nearly double on its own. This is a charity so Gift Aid can be used. I don't think that this represents good value at all for adults, especially the planetarium for the infant orientated shows.

Facilities
Cafe, which was helpful but not especially good value. I didn't find a shortage of seating and the areas were mainly clean. Toilets were male and female plus boys and girls. So what do I do with a four year old? Take him into the mens or go into the boys with him with all the associated risks of accusations - didn't see any guide lines so decided my grandson would have to hang on.

Staff
Friendly and helpful at the ticket place and cafe. Plenty of other staff around but would benefit from a more easily identifiable uniform.

Exhibition spaces
Loads of stuff on the upper level and the space is fully occupied. Lower level was a bit of a dark hole and not fully utilised. It was reassuring to hear the unintelligible public address system so evocative of a railway platform. Seriously, the announcement I heard was spoken in too high a pitch and too fast to be comprehensible. Planetarium was OK with comfortable reclining seats.

Shows
We went to two. The first, a very simple presentation on sound and energy, was very nicely delivered by the presenter who announced himself as Dr something. Clear, well-paced and enthusiastic. He'd make a good teacher if I thought it was a good profession to be in any more. The second was a Planetarium cartoon-type thing on the planets. Very appropriate for the age group although some scenes (especially at the beginning) were far too static. Adults should not have to pay for this at all.

Exhibits and contents
Age range suitability was quite wide and would be OK up to the end of KS3. Mostly focused on physics which would suit maybe kids up to the age of 10 as an exploration activity without much of the theoretical background. Above the age of 10 the exhibits would amuse but a lot of this would be covered by experiment in the classroom (or it least it would have been when I taught it). Small steps available for the youngest kids.

The biological components were less engaging and beyond KS2, I'd judge. Not much chemistry except for some crystals. Soft play area on the lower level that my four year old dismissed as "that's for babies." Some exhibits were a complete mystery with inadequate explanation/instruction.

The exhibits have been intelligently designed to resist the misdirected attentions of kids and many do this really well. A significant proportion was in need of maintenance and repair, particularly bearings that were were notably worn. For example, the harmonograph had a maladjusted bearing and a clamp that could not retain the pen due to a damaged thread is one item that springs to mind. It could usefully be simplified too. Too much didn't work well enough to suggest that items were checked frequently and fixed promptly.

Most irritating was the electrical circuits exhibit with the "magnetic contacts". If we accept the convention that black and red would be used for negative and positive respectively, then what on earth possessed somebody to label the symbol for the battery the wrong way round. I spent a lifetime trying to teach kids how to use symbols correctly. I should have taken a picture and posted it here.

Verdict
Expensive and somewhat run down but with loads of potential. Many adults could learn loads here but not suitable for kids under six, I'd say. Try to go on a fine day when it won't be heaving. Can't comment on all the planetarium shows but poor value as a solo visit.. Good staff probably saved this review from one star, I think. Confused by toilet procedures when in company of minors - perhaps I missed a sign.

6  Thank mildly_surprised
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WSC M, Public Relations Manager at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, responded to this reviewResponded 24 April 2018

Thank you for visiting the Winchester Science Centre and for taking the time to leave such a detailed review - we greatly value all customer feedback.

We are very pleased to hear that you found our staff friendly and helpful and enjoyed the science show on sound and energy, but sorry to hear that you were disappointed by other aspects of your visit. As a matter of fact, we're currently working on an exciting development plan that could see much of the science centre transformed and give the whole place a more modern feel.

While, as you pointed out, our exhibits have been intelligently designed to be very robust, of course the hands-on nature of the exhibition floor does inevitably lead to ongoing maintenance requirements, especially during busy weekends. We have a workshop team that monitor the exhibits and when maintenance is required, they respond as quickly as they can. As outlined above, we are in the process of upgrading the exhibition and have an exciting transformation on the lower exhibition floor expected to launch later this year.

Thank you again for letting us know your thoughts. We shall be following up your comments and concerns with the teams involved and using your feedback to inform and improve the customer experience in future.

Best wishes,
Winchester Science Centre

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