Thursday, March 28, 2013

National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD

After waiting for the kids to be old enough to appreciate the Aquarium, we finally made the trek. The facilities were  clean, and the employees were friendly and knowledgeable. We waited in line for tickets for about 3-4 minutes. However, you may be standing outside for quite a while if it is crowded. They also provide the option of purchasing your tickets online with a service charge of $1.95 per ticket.

 The aquarium was broken up into three separate pavilions within the same building. Pier 3 Pavilion, which consisted of 5 levels, included Maryland: Mountains to the Sea, Surviving Through Adaptation, North Atlantic to the Pacific, Upland Tropical Rainforest, Atlantic Coral Reef, Shark Alley, and the Blacktip Reef which is set to open this summer. Our children enjoyed seeing the sharks, and having having freedom to roam in the open layout. Also remember to check online so that you can also find feeding times. The Tropical Rainforest was also a big hit as the children enjoyed seeing birds chirping and flying over their heads.
     In the Pier 4 Pavilion was a cafe, a wide array of different jellyfish that illuminated the dark room in their wing, and the dolphin show. The staff recommends arriving 20-30 minutes before the show to get a seat. This show runs roughly every 1.5 hours, and lasts for about 20 minutes. The first 4 rows were labeled “The splash zone”, and the rest was dry seating. The trainers were friendly, called up several volunteers, and the show was very child friendly. We got to see the dolphins jump, play catch, splash the front rows, and speed around the tank. The lead trainer shared that every show is different and that the tricks vary so you could go to multiple shows and see different performances in the same day.
     On the way from Pier 4 Pavilion to the Glass Pavilion are an animal planet gallery, restrooms, and the 4D Immersion Theater(an additional $5.00) as well as a Harbor overlook. Once in the Glass Pavilion, we got to experience the Animal Planet Australia exhibits.  The fish in this exhibit were very interesting, and one of the workers was even standing next to one of the tanks dangling an insect over the tank on a stick to demonstrate how one of the fish shoots water into the air to knock the bugs down into the water. The aquarium gift shop is also in this pavilion.
     Overall, we enjoyed our experience, but had a hard time spending over $100 for the 4 of us when there are so many other wonderful museums that are free or a fraction of the cost. I would recommend this place, as the customer service was great and there are wonderful exhibits, but it is usually over-crowded, and strollers are not permitted. Check the website for events and opportunities that change on a daily basis. If you live in the area and plan to go multiple times, you can buy a family membership for $159 for the year. The membership would be worth it if you were even planning on going twice per year.

Adults: $29.95
Children 3-11: $20.95
Under 3: Free

Mon–Thur          9 am–5 pm
Fri                         9 am–8 pm
Sat–Sun              9 am–5 pm