I love aquariums. In every city I visit that has an aquarium I go. I love to learn about sea life, see the beautiful creatures on exhibit and learn how to protect the animals in the oceans of our world. I usually love seeing kids at aquariums because I know they are learning about the wonderful creatures in our waters and will grow to respect and appreciate them. I have spent many hours in big aquariums like Monterrey Bay and the National Aquarium and smaller local places like in Seattle and Newport.
I knew this aquarium would be small, but the website seemed nice and I was looking forward to the visit.
However, I was very disappointed. First, its is tiny. It is so small that its nearly impossible on a busy day to get anywhere near the tanks and walk without treading on unattended small children. I was bashed in the shin by a stroller twice. I honestly though to myself "I hope there is not an emergency because half of us would get trampled." The areas cordoned off for parties would be better served to open up the walkways and offer some breathing room. I am sure the parties bring in revenue, but I would have gladly paid a few bucks more to be able to walk freely. Half the exhibits were not open yet, and the "coming in the spring" spaces seem tiny and inappropriate for penguins and otters.
Second, it seems like your aquarium is geared for kids. It felt more like a Chuck E. Cheese than an aquarium. Most of the tanks were at child height, which I get but when its very full its impossible to see what is in the tank when they are so small and so low. My 6' tall husband missed half the tanks because they were too low to see into.
I realize that the staff cannot parent children, but there were so many kids yelling, screaming, grabbing at the animals and running it was awful. I saw several kids peeling star fish off rocks, poking fingers into the openings of anemone type animals and screaming at the aquariums of lizards. The parents just stood by yapping at their friends and ignored how obnoxious the children were. There were not enough staff to protect the animals. I left after 45 minutes of trying to see the exhibits and was very sad.
The aquarium should be renamed Portland Children's Aquarium and that would keep adult visitors from having any expectations that it would be an enjoyable experience for adults.