Ten million gallons of
water. More animals than any other aquarium in the world. More than eleven
million visitors to date.
With numbers like these,
there was no doubt we were in for an exciting day. I visited the Georgia Aquarium not long
after it opened while Iiving in Georgia, and although my memories from that day
included horrible Altanta traffic, expensive tickets and a very crowded
aquarium, I hoped visiting with kids would bring a different experience.
Prices remain the same, but
for the price of a ticket everything is included: the dolphin show, a 3D
animated feature and the special exhibit (currently “Frogs – A Chorus of Colors”).
We lucked out, kids under three are free. As far as I found, the only ways to
get a discount is to become a member (and go more than once thereby getting a
lower per-visit cost) or to visit as a school group. There are certain days
that offer discounts, for example this Saturday is princess and pirate day,
when kids 12 and under who come dressed in princess, prince or pirate attire
will receive free admission with each paying adult. You can also cut costs by
taking public transportation and avoiding the parking fees, by skipping lunch
at the Café Aquaria, and by ignoring the gift shop that you have to walk
through to exit the aquarium.
Now that I’ve gotten the bad
taste of high ticket prices out of my mouth, I only have good things left to
say. From the very first tanks, which line the hallway and envelop you as you
enter, to the “hands-on” exhibits, the place is amazing! We had the chance to
pet the stingrays at Brookfield Zoo, but here we could pet the stingrays, pet a
shark, pet horseshoe crabs and sea stars! There are “pop up” windows and crawl
through caves that allow you to experience the exhibits in an even more
up-close and personal way, as well as from a different perspective.
My favorite was “Ocean
Voyager,” the home to four whale sharks (the largest fish species in the world),
manta rays (the only manta rays in a US aquarium, ever) and thousands of other
fish in 6.3 million gallons of water, the largest aquarium habitat in the
world. We walked through an acrylic tunnel allowing us to see the underbellies of
the giants, and we hung out while the whale sharks were fed.
Lauris listed his favorites
as the sharks and the dolphins. I can understand how the latter made quite an
impression, the show was something else. If you look past the theatrics (and
the “Glee”-style musical) the show really is action-packed, eliciting oohs and aahs from everyone except Mikus, who finally took his nap in
the darkened auditorium.
Mikus possibly preferred the
jellyfish; three different species in three tanks, the space had the feel of an
art gallery. The tropical reef, the seahorses, the lionfish, it was one wonder
after another. Overall, the visit was a complete success. My only regret; not bringing Roberts along.