Georgia Aquarium – Tips for a Great Day

georgia aquarium tipsThis autumn, we’ll be taking an online marine biology class for science. Since we plan to be spending a lot of time in Atlanta this year, a family membership at the Georgia Aquarium seemed like it might be a good investment.

Well… wow!

I’m typing this at the end of our first day trip there. My biggest problem? My feet hurt!

We had a great time all day long.

We had a great time exploring the different exhibits and attending several of the shows and presentations. My sore feet and I are particualrly glad we got the pass — I was able to say, more than once, that it was okay that we weren’t going to see this or that… we’d do so on a future trip.

My second oldest son requested we begin in the River Scout section, where we enjoyed seeing free water creatures from all over the world – from cichlids from Africa to Asian small-clawed otters (smaller but every bit as cute as their larger sea otter cousins).

We made a point of taking in the dophin show

georgia aquarium tips

and later, the sea lion show.

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The sea lion show is preceded by a fun, special effects story about a missing sea lion… In this picture, lights have been used to put all of us into the kelp forest.

I personally was most impressed with the Ocean Voyager experience. This incredible tank is huge — 127 feet across, and 20-30 feet in depth, it contains 6.3 million gallons of artificial sea water. And the variety of sea life is astonishing. (You can watch the live webcam here!)

Was it a perfect trip? Well… lunch was a little pricey. We got a twenty percent discount because this was our first member meal in the cafe, so that helped. 

For our next trip, I’m going to make sure we set aside time to watch a movie in the 4D theatre (I really wanted to do this, but we ran out of time). Also, we’re going to take our time going through the Aquanaut Adventure. There turned out to be just too many interesting exhibits, hands-on activities, and points of interest for the time we’d set aside. Next trip, we’ll remedy that. 

In addition, now that we’ve been there the once, I’ll be planning future visits a little different.

Here are my Georgia Aquarium tips for a happy trip:

  • Be in place for a show more than 30 minutes before show time. In other words, get in line to get in line. We were repeatedly told to be there 30 minutes before the show. For both shows, we arrived 30 minutes prior, and the people in front of us two-thirds filled the theaters before we were able to find seats. 
  • Take a few minutes to plan out your day. When you first get there, it’s exciting and it’s tempting to just run off and start looking at the animals. Instead, check out The Current, the information sheet staff hand out as you enter the aquarium. In it, you’ll find listings of what shows will be presented that day and what times.  A few minutes planning in the morning can mean the difference between missing a show and seeing everything your group wants to!
  • If you’re eating in the cafe, eat early or late. The cafe is a hybrid cafeteria with stations for food types (deli, grill, pizza, dessert). It was very, very challenging for us to keep track of where each other was and, sometimes, for the boys to manage their trays with so many  other people trying to get lunch at the same time. Everyone is going in different directions, to get to the station with the food they want. Better yet, eat on he second floor, near the ballroom. There are meal stations upstairs with much less crowding. This makes it easier to get your food and to find a table for your family.

Bonus tips for attending sea lion or dolphin shows:

  • Sit way back if you don’t want to risk getting wet. (And that water is cold!). The first two rows in the sea lion show and the first ten rows in the dolphin show are splash zones.
  • Absolutely no photos or videos taken during these shows, so take ’em before they start and put your dagnabit phone a-freakin’-way. The dolphin show in particular uses some really fun light effects, and when the lights are dimmed, we don’t need your screen light getting in my eyes because you can’t skip checking Facebook for twenty minutes. #sorrynotsorry Listen, I get it, I’m a phone-junkie. But for shows like these? Put the phone on do not disturb (vibrate isn’t good enough), put it in your purse or pocket, and just enjoy the moment.

Enjoy the moment!

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Cray huge #aquarium tank. The whale #shark at the end is about 20' long.

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Shoestring Georgia Aquarium