Monday, November 10, 2014

TRAVEL: Dallas World Aquarium review

When visiting a new city, you rely so much on internet reviews of attractions, to know what's worth your time and money.  Our family has always loved aquariums, so we always make it a point to check out any aquariums in the area when we travel.  I found 3 aquariums in the Dallas area when I googled it, and found mixed reviews for what seemed to be the big "main" event in downtown Dallas.  Plus, there were no coupons (and none ever, according to reviews), so it was a bit of a gamble when we set off last Wednesday morning.  Here's what we thought, in case you're ever debating.

In a nutshell:

PROS: Design, variety of wildlife, quality of exhibits
CONS: Price (at $21 per adult and $14 for children over 3, plus $6 parking - which is actually a steal compared to Chicago area aquarium parking- it's no joke when you add it all up)

Would we recommend this?  Absolutely.

This venue has a unique set-up, with exhibits integrated into the exterior of the building, along the area where you line up for tickets, and visible from the various cafes and restaurants.  It may not look like much outside (although the plants and flowers are quite attractive), but it's great inside.

Along the outside of the building:

Where you line up:

 That was just a sample of what you see before you even enter the fee area!

There are two main parts of the exhibits, both based off a central "jungle" area (the official term), with various levels, including birds at the top of the tree canopy, monkeys in the trees, waterfowl in the water, and separate water areas with giant crocodiles.  Fish viewing areas were often tucked along the walls, with several large tanks located in the lower level - including some of the most gorgeous live corals I've ever seen in a tank.

There were some unexpected animals, too - including the huge chimp or some kind of monkey (almost man-sized) that was crawling around up in the rafters (seriously, a bit weird!).

Here are some of our favorite parts:

Close encounters with a sloth:

We were this close:

Gorgeous environment in the central garden areas:


Bird nests:

Gavin observing said nests:

I think they were observing the crocodile, but it could have been lots of things:


Turtle encounter:

Beware of children on field trips (it was just fine):

 Second atrium area included flamingoes:

Top of the shark tank (view from our table at the Mayan cafe):

 More gorgeous scenery (This was on top of a garbage can...  Fancy!):

Some of the water exhibits:

These were the biggest crabs I've ever seen:

Gavin loved watching the diver clean the tank:

The shark exhibit:

(Side note, one of these animals - I forget the name, it's not a shark, actually - was rather... ahem.. excited?...  The school-age children were all over that.)

Outdoor penguin exhibit (appears to be an old entrance?):

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