October 21, 2013

Ripley's Aquarium | Toronto, Canada

A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to see the Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto! I was taken along with a friend of mine–for free–who got tickets for entry BEFORE it officially opened on October 16th. Now, although it wasn't open to the public yet, it was still fairly packed with people for its Friends and Family day.

I totally forgot to take a photo of the exterior, but it's a pretty average, modern-looking building. The aquarium is located directly outside of the CN Tower. I can't seem to find any info on how large the building is, but we were told it takes about 2 hours to go through the entire building. My friend and I took a lot less than that, but that's probably because we're 2 people and not a family with crazy, wandering children.

The aquarium is absolutely stunning. The above photo is what it looks like when you walk in. It's open concept, with 2 levels. The photo is looking down onto the bottom level where the kids' play area is. You start by walking to your right, towards a dark room of fish galore.

Once you pass through your first exhibit, you are faced with a 2 storey aquarium with long streams of kelp and a moving ocean Yes, the water in this tank literally moves back and forth to stimulate the Pacific ocean! It's quite a sight. (You will see it in the video below). After the first glimpse, the path leads you down and around said exhibit so that you are brought to the bottom level. Along the way are mini aquariums of starfish and what not.

Upon arrival to the "bottom" and through a hallway, you arrive to a giant tropical aquarium exhibit and greeted by scuba divers feeding the fish. Now I'm not sure if they're there all of the time, but there were when I was there.

And then, one of the highlights of the aquarium: the shark tunnel!

I have no idea how long the tunnel is, but it's fairly long! On the left side of the tunnel, you have to option of lining up to get onto the slow-moving "sidewalk" they have or, you can walk yourself to the right side (which I chose to do). It's beyond spectacular and definitely one thing I can finally check off my bucket list. I have dreamt of visiting an aquarium with a tunnel of fish surrounding you as you walk through it. Absolutely breathtaking. Here's some things I saw on the way:

Eventually you end up back into the kids area (as seen in the first photo) that offers playgrounds, demos, bathrooms, a cafe, and a live exhibit where you get to touch crabs (if it tickles your fancy). There was a cute little aquarium called "Nemo and Friends" which features tons and tons of clownfish as well as the "blue" Dory fishes. Super cute!

You then go back into random exhibits with all different kinds of neat looking fish

And now for my favorite part: the jellyfish! I had a hard time deciding which was my ultimate favorite, the tunnel or the jellyfish, but I think the jellyfish had to be the winner.

After the jellyfish, there were other things to see, including the manta and sting rays. There were more live demos where you could "pet" things, including a huge sting ray pond, right before the gift shop.

The gift shop was pretty decent with expected overpriced goodies, however since I got into the aquarium for free, I decided to splurge on a $10 turtle mug. So worth it.

My overall impression was absolute satisfaction, interest and excitement. It was really amazing and I would do it again...but not for a while seeing as it's in a hot tourist spot and I'm sure it'll be packed to the brim now that it's open.

With that, I leave you with my video and if you're interested, some more photos not posted here.


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