The ticket counter/check-in process is a breeze and the great part about this aquarium is that once you get your tickets and hand stamped, you are free to return to the facility for the entire day. This made it convenient for us to step out for a bite to eat or to visit the other shops in the mall. At check-in, we were able to get brochures about exhibits, feeding times, and featured events as well as a Dive Log Book for the little ones. Tips: You will get the better rates if you pre-purchase your tickets online. If you live in the area, it might make the most sense to purchase a season pass if you plan to visit several times a year. Additionally, you have the opportunity to have your family photo taken before entering the actual aquarium, so be prepared for that.
Although the actual facility is not as large as most aquariums I have been to, this one made great use of every square foot! Each exhibit (known as "Dive Stations") was put together beautifully and had a touchscreen nearby so you can identify and check out facts about each animal in the tank.
At the end of the aquarium sits a cute gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and photos that are taken at the beginning of your adventure. Usually gift shops are very expensive, but SEA LIFE had so many great items at very affordable prices. We bought some cute plush sea animals for William.
On our second visit for the day, we overheard a SEA LIFE staff member telling another patron about a behind the scenes tour of the facility. We were told to join in and we are so glad we did! We got to learn how the aquarium is operated as well as seeing the different stations where animals are cared for if they get sick and how their food is prepped. We saw what the aquarium looked like from above. It was magnificent to say the least. There were locker rooms with dive equipment for the marine biologists who dive daily to clean the tanks and tend to the animals. They made about about how safety and cleanliness are an extreme priority and they work every single day to make certain the animals are fed and cared for.
I spoke with our lovely tour guide and told her how amazed I was that we are standing in a full-fledged aquarium that is in a shopping mall. It's one of those things you have to see in person to truly appreciate it. She was telling us that they have another 10,000 or so square feet that they will be expanding on and hopefully will get the papers in order to have a sea turtle tank. I sure can't wait to see all of that come together.
Before I forget-- if you have preschool aged children, SEA LIFE is featuring Disney Junior's The Octonauts from August 7-23
Participate in Octonauts Training Academy and learn what it takes to become a member of the crew. As cadets, they'll master the specialties of their favorite characters across 6 fun zones, meet Kwazii and Captain Barnacles in person and then be rewarded for completing their training with a very special Octonauts certificate! Check the website for more details.
We took away so much from our visit. The most important thing was the urgency to protect marine animals. SEA LIFE has provided a state of the art facility to not only showcase these animals, but also encourage better environmental practices to preserve these precious creatures. Although I have read reviews about people complaining about the cost to visit for such a small venue that doesn't take long to get through, I honestly feel like it is well worth the ticket price. You can go in as many times as you want for the full day of operating hours. I feel like we got even more the second time around by joining in the behind the scenes tour. The joy on son's face and seeing my husband and adult daughters behave like children were priceless. We fully enjoyed our time at SEA LIFE Aquarium and if you are ever visiting the Charlotte area or live in the vicinity, I highly recommend you check it out.
Be sure to visit the SEA LIFE Aquarium website for more information and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for promotions and updates.
I was offered media tickets in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own as always. Many thanks to Sea Life Aquarium for hosting us!