The Georgia Aquarium

My Second Favorite Thing On Baker Street* MAP

Only one attraction has garnered more discussion than any other in the Atlanta Area this past decade. And its one to which I have never been until this past Saturday. It’s a place that has garnered more people telling me that I just “gotta go” than any other, and that by a wide margin. The primary reason for the delay has been the cost involved, I’m not poor, but I’m cheap (and I’m rather proud of it). With every post I make I make sure that the cost is known and most of my posts are about places people and families can go without breaking the bank. But some places are really such an important part of the Atlanta Landscape that they deserve mention, and that is why I’m going to relay my impressions of the World’s Largest and our very own Georgia Aquarium.
Great Viewing Tank

But first, in interest of full disclosure, I was invited to go for free as part of their Planet Shark Blogger Day, which has a standard cash value of $31.50 (admission plus Planet Shark exhibit). If you think that has swayed my opinion, please feel free to discount my comments by a value equal to the admission price in your mind. But because of this I will be able to post the $2 discount coupon on the at the bottom you can print off and use through March 14, 2010. And I would like to publicly thank them here for this invitation. Another note is that I grew up a frequent attendee of what was the World’s largest Aquarium, the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (My aunt was a diver there during my childhood). This information explains my lack of hurry to see it and that my perspective may be different from someone to whom this is a more novel experience.
Ocean Tunnel

It’s hard not to be impressed by the 8 million plus gallons of water and the 100,000 animals from 500 or so species. And I believe the viewing areas are done quite splendidly. The Ocean Voyager viewing room is the centerpiece of the entire venue with seating to view through this amazing 61 foot wide, 23 foot tall window. From this position you can view Whale Sharks, gliding Stingrays, Hammerhead Sharks, mammoth Grouper, and myriad other members of the ocean community. It would be easy to spend an hour in this room alone. To get to the viewing room, you have to cross under the tank in a 100 foot acrylic tunnel, which offers another unique perspective on ocean life. There is a slow moving travel platform which will give you ample time to gawk without keeping anyone from advancing if they choose.
Tropical Fish

The second most interest part of the Aquarium is the Georgia Explorer, a very hands on exhibit. You can touch Stingrays, Horseshoe Crabs, small sharks, shrimp, and sea stars. I like that it is so much more than simply staring at a window full of sea critters. There’s also some majestic Loggerhead Turtles and the encroaching Red Lionfish. Just outside this area is a small, but nice display of Penguins (and who doesn’t like Penguins).
Whale Shark

The other three areas are nice diversions in there own right. In Tropical Diver, you get to see many beautifully colored fish, with my favorite being the Moon Jellyfish. In River Scout, the Piranha, Alligators and Otters stand out for being the most fascinating and entertaining. I also liked the overhead tanks that let you see the bottom of the river from a bottom dwellers point of view. Coldwater Quest is probably the least interesting of the bunch, due to the fact that the Beluga Whales have departed, but there’s still some interesting Crabs and Squid to be seen.
Jelly Fish

The second floor has two exhibits: a 4D Theater which we didn’t view, but seems very popular with kids. And the Planet Shark exhibit, which we did. (both have an additional cost, Planet Shark being $5.50). This exhibit, which allows no photography, had a lot of intriguing information about sharks, especially on shark attacks. I learned that the Great White has 64 confirmed kills from some 400+ attacks, but that the Hammerhead Shark, though slow to anger with only three attacks, kills at a prodigious clip with only one remaining to tell the tale. The question posed is whether the Shark is predator or prey and it weighs in even-handedly on both sides of the argument. While I now know that I am 200 times more likely to be killed by a deer, this doesn’t make me think sharks are less dangerous, it just makes me believe that deer are cute, but evil creatures. Please note that there are no tank with live specimens in this exhibit

The Georgia Aquarium is a must see attraction here in Atlanta. It is pretty kid friendly with plenty of interactive exhibits and viewing platforms that must be crawled through giving them a nice way to get to the front of the line for viewing (and out of the adult’s way). The drawbacks are really just three in number. First there’s the cost, which I feel is a bit high, but after doing some research (See info below) on top U.S. Aquaria, I’ve found the cost is comparable to other locations. And a simple google search will yield various coupons and package deals to decrease your expenditures. I would, however, like to see some changes in this area. I would like to see the price for children to not be so high, I really can’t imagine spending $19 for a three year old to get in. In addition, they don’t allow any outside foods in, and a simple pack of trail mix cost $5 and a bottle of water $2.50, with actual meals being significantly higher. As frugal adults, we can just do without until later, but children always seem to need something to eat or drink. And I would like to see some free days for Area residents, I know there are lots of discounts available and nearly no one pays full price, but to put this in perspective, the Shedd Aquarium has 52 community free days a year. Second is the crowds: they do manage them reasonably well with delaying entries and this goes to prove that the market exists at the prices set. And lastly, it lacks a primary attraction now that the Beluga Whales have gone, but that is set to change with the arrival of the Dolphin Exhibit in Winter 2010.
US Aquarium Prices
Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta GA ages 3-12 $19.50 adult $26.00
John G Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL, ages 3-11 $17.95, adult $24.95
Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga TN, ages 3-12 $14.95, adult $21.95
Monterrey Bay Aquarium, Monterrey CA, ages 3-12 $17.95, adult $29.95
National Aquarium in Baltimore, Baltimore MD ages 3-11 $19.95, adult 24.95

*the title refers to the fact that Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street

1 comment:

  1. I was in very much trouble with the algae in my fish tank. Then my friend asked me to put little catfish in the little Aquarium and guess what they were really good. They are amazing algae eaters.Now i had three in my fish tank for no algae.



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