The Vancouver Aquarium has finished their biggest expansion in their history. With having grown up visiting here I was excited to find out what it was like. Evie and I went on the grand opening weekend, and recently I was invited to check it all out along with some others. We got to hear a bit more of what went into the expansion, and we also learned about other activities you can check out for the aquarium.The whole front of the Vancouver Aquarium has changed dramatically. Gone is the plant covered wall, and windows you could sneak a peak into the Amazon section. While it is very different, it still feels so much the same. Possibly because the “Chief of the Undersea World” bronze killer whale statue by Bill Reid is finally back at the entrance. The entrance is much larger now, and the flow of visitors into the aquarium is much better. It provides a new area for educational programs, and family entertainment.
The entrance plaza has a West-Coast water theme. The metal paneling is dual coloured with shades of pinks and greens to give the look of fish scales as you walk past. There is more seating outside that is connected to the cafe which gives more options for families. Especially if you need an area to get away for a moment to get your kids to relax, and have something to eat.
Once inside you see massive 360 degree digital screens that show different videos, and even life size silhouettes of different creatures you’d find in the ocean. You can’t miss the 4.3 metre blue globe that is in the middle. The North Pole is on the bottom to give a different perspective of how things change with the seasons. Once in here you can head to guest services if needed, or head down either of the new entry ways that take you to the different sections of the aquarium.
There are stairs you can take to head down into the Tech Connections area. This is a great open space where you may find educational events, or maybe some live entertainment. On my two recent visits I have also found it to be a great place to go and take a break, and let me daughter run because it’s such an open area. We were also treated to some music and dancing, and a visit from a staff member dressed as a beluga. A little tip, the washrooms down in this area I have yet to find be busy unlike others throughout the aquarium! Oh, and by the main entrance is another set of washrooms that are brand new. Nursing mama’s there is even a private room for you here with a comfy chair, and a change table area. It’s big enough to bring your stroller into as well.
Clownfish Cove is back in it’s home. No longer down by the viewing area for the Wild Coast. When I went with Evie she loved playing in this new area. Now with more room to play, even with lots of other guests being there. She was able to go around and discover the different things in there. From going through tunnels and checking out fish, to seeing the inside of a dolphin on the x-ray machine (one of the favourites from the other play area). The big hits though were the lift on the tug boat to put the animals in, and the rock pillows. The rock pillows are great to build with, and to sit on and have a story read.
During my media visit we were treated to some incredible food. My favourite was the ocean-wise halibut. All of it was a sampling of what may be served at the different catered events at the aquarium. The chefs for the aquarium put a lot of work into the menus for the different catering events. The most recent was the Aquarium After-Dark, if you go to one you are sure to be fed well. We also learned about the different sleep-over options. How neat would it be to have a birthday party at the aquarium and get to sleep over by the belugas? Dear hubby, I have a birthday party idea for me!
So many things have changed. I grew up loving going to the aquarium, and now my daughter loves to go and visit too. I appreciate the opportunity that is there for my daughter to learn about the ocean, and many of the creatures within, especially right now when she is all about animals. I hope to see the focus on education continue, and to see my daughter learn more through visits to the aquarium and maybe some day educational programs she may attend through school.
The expansion looks great Vancouver Aquarium!