Went to the Georgia Aquarium today.
It is quite an outing. A brother’s wife was with their daughter and picked us up. Then a sister of mine joined us down there with her children. So we were three adults and 8 children.
One has to first make reservations. And if you are planning an outing make sure to leave guns, knives, matches, lighters and all food and drink at home as none are permitted inside.
We used the garage for aquarium parking ($12 for four hours) and I was at least surprised to see it as full as it was, which was an indication of things to come. From the garage it’s about a four-minute walk to the aquarium entrance and the sidewalk was filled with people coming and going. At the aquarium are two entrances, one for those with season passes and those without and both are set up to be a maze of theme park waiting ques and I suppose if it’s a spectacularly busy day then these are full up but even with the number of people who were there we had no wait.
One goes through a security checkpoint where you toss items which don’t belong in the museum in a basket (so long my Bic, no big deal) and off you go through the metal detector. Some of the more pleasant security people I’ve ever seen and that was nice.
First entering, the aquarium seems overwhelming so we were lucky to be with my sister-in-law who had been several times before. Seems a good thing to do the first time is just start at your left, at the Georgia part of the aquarium, make your way around and end with the coral reef part of the exhibit. Essentially there is a central area/food court that is a couple of stories tall and all the exhibits are accessible from the central area.
At the entrance to the Georgia part of the exhibit is a large tank filled with small sting rays that one can touch. The rule with all hands-on exhibits is to use the index and third fingers extended and squeezed together, all other fingers and thumb folded back. A person on a mic gave a little info but largely was there to remind to use the two-finger touch and to also make sure the sting rays get a 15 minute break every hour. Needless to say, this exhibit is quite popular and H.o.p. and I stood around for about ten minutes before he was able to squeeze in to look at the sting rays.
In the Georgia exhibit there were a couple of other hands-on things. And a station for you to disinfect your hands so you don’t pick up salmonella. The sea turtles are there. And there is a children’s play area where kids can work off some of their energy, and the whackiness that may come from all the stimulation. So bring socks for the kids to wear as they must remove their shoes in the play area.
Capacity in the building used to be 6000, which I read they kept cutting back as people were complaining it was too full. Now it is 4000. I don’t know how many people were there today. I do know that it wasn’t at capacity and still people were bumping into each other left and right. While there I must have collided with at least 30 people. All you had to do was be standing in one spot and turn in that one spot and bump there was another person you were running into or they were running into you. So turn…very…slowly…otherwise you might end up really getting whacked, like I did once. Bang in the head went mine with another woman’s and we motioned apologies several times and both gestured at the commotion in excuse.
Her male companion was a hoot. This was at the penguin exhibit where the kids can get in a line and go through a little tunnel where they stand in a little bubble in the middle of the exhibit. The man she was with was in charge of several children, some which must have been nieces, but eventually his gregarious, enthusiastic talk included all the children, asking them where the penguins were from and what penguins ate.
The aquarium really is wonderful and keeps kids fabulously entertained at every turn of the corner. Sea turtles and fish aand sea otters and penguins and fish and giant Japanese sea crabs and urchins and fish and jellyfish and beluga whales and fish and sea lions and finally the coral reef tank where you can just sit and watch thousands of fish swimming past. Not at its 4000 capacity, it was still crowded enough that I can’t imagine what it would have been like at 6000 people. Certainly no opportunity to stand and appreciate the views.
I read now that you can pick up a printed guide at the Information Desk for $2 and it would be worth doing as there’s not enough information available at the exhibit to be very informative, or there is always someone else standing in the way reading what’s there.
One thing I noted–numerous individuals in wheelchairs. I’ve often wondered where all the people in wheelchairs go in this city, and here finally they were evident and it was great to see. In fact there was a consultant there today, in his wheelchair, making his way through the exhibit with another woman taking notes on accessibility, his observations and suggestions.
If you go to the photo album I have some pics up of the turtles and whales and the Japanese giant crabs and the coral reef etc. Sorry but the photos are quite unspectacular.
H.o.p. had a great time and came home totally exhausted.