I’m a huge fan of the Wildlife Conservation Society. They save wildlife and protect environments worldwide through science, conservation, education and by inspiring people to value nature. They’re also the organization that manages NY Aquarium as well as the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo.
I recently visited the NY Aquarium on a cold winter afternoon with some friends. Both of us are members of the WCS so admission and parking were free. However, had we paid, we would have been disappointed. I hate to review the aquarium this way because it is really quite a special place. But it is still rebuilding after serious destruction by Hurricane Sandy. The parts of the aquarium that are open are done well, but it’s quite tiny.
As you walk through the entrance you’re greeted by a gigantic aquarium, Glovers Reef. This is probably my favorite feature there. This tank houses a large variety of salt water fish as well as sting rays and eels.
Just past the reef is Conservation Hall which showcases a lot of coral reefs, coral frags, tropical fish and more. The tanks are vibrant, healthy and very well maintained. The kids enjoyed these but were especially drawn to the wooden boat which they could climb into and rock back and forth.
Outside there are walruses, otters, penguins, a shark tank and an Aqutheater where the sea lion show is held. This is a nice open air amphitheater and although we missed the show this visit we’ve seen it many times. It’s about 20 minutes long and very cute. The sea lions perform well and the trainers are very engaging. Plus there is catchy music throughout. On this trip we happened to arrive right after a show finished and there just wasn’t enough to see for two hours, until the next one began. If seeing the show is important to you, be sure to coordinate your arrival time with the performances. It takes one hour, maximum, to tour the aquarium.
In addition, there is a fun 4D movie theater just outside the entrance which is currently showing a 10 minute version of Sponge Bob. These tickets are purchased at the aquarium ticket booth. This show is really cute. You wear 3D glasses, the seats move a little and bubbles float around the theater during the movie. A definite hit for little ones.
As you exit the aquarium you can easily walk onto the Coney Island Boardwalk. We love making a beach day of our aquarium visits during the summer. During the winter it’s just nice to get a glimpse of the ocean.
All in all, I’m happy we made this 45 minute car trip from Manhattan. Our three and four year olds thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not sure how much more of the aquarium they would have appreciated anyway. I just wish there was more to see for me 🙂