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“OK Day”
Review of National Aquarium

National Aquarium
Ranked #4 of 234 things to do in Baltimore
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Considered one of the world's best aquariums, the National Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures. It champions environmental initiatives by engaging with visitors, volunteers, education groups and schools to actively participate in the preservation of the world's natural resources and living systems. The National Aquarium delivers meaningful experiences through its living collection of more than 17,000 animals from more than 750 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, marine mammals and sharks, as well as through exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences like sleepovers and tours, science-based education programs and hands-on experiences in the field.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Harrisburg, PA
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
“OK Day”
Reviewed March 16, 2011

Went to the Baltimore Aquarium on Saturday, March 5, 2011. I live about 90 minutes away from here, so I've been there quite a bit over the years. Our group of 7 had an OK day. VERY crowded, so I agree with the other reviewers to try to get in as early as you can. We were in by 9:20AM. By noon, the exhibits were 4-5 people deep and the lines for lunch were insanely long. My advice is to get a handstamp, and walk 5 minutes away to the Subway or McDonald's down the street. Prices for the meals were better, and no lines at all.
The dolphin show was 20 minutes long and a portion of that time was spent just watching the big TV screens on the walls showing clips of environmental issues. We had the combo ticket which only charged us an extra $3 for the dolphin show, so it was pretty inexpensive. For such a short show, I would not have paid more than that. Best advice... if you do the dolphin show, the doors open 30 minutes before showtime, get there as soon as possible! The room fills quickly.
If you read the aquarium's website, you'll read that you can't bring in any snacks or drinks. However, when we called the aquarium directly, they said we could bring in whatever we wanted. They did not search bags, and we had our backpacks full of drinks and snacks to save money for the day. Most people also had plenty of food they brought in, we noticed. The aquarium is nice, but my 6 year old was getting bored after 2 hours. We tried to make a game of trying to find the animals/fish in each exhibit, but it got old quick for him. I think that a kid over age 10 would appreciate it more. All in all, a good day.

Visited March 2011
1 Thank Dentalhygienist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Troy, New York
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
“Expected a lot more for the price”
Reviewed February 28, 2011

OK, I don't normally write reviews, but figured I had to for this one.
We visited the aquarium on Saturday, 2/26/11 and had bought our tickets online to ensure we would be able to get in at our designated time. The museum was not packed, so we had no problem getting in.
We had an 11am entrance time with an 11:30a dolphin show.
The show was about 25 minutes long and was pretty good. We were surprised not to see the dolphins do much jumping and big tricks. But, then again, it probably all depends on their moods and the trainers.
The exhibits were pretty good. We really LOVED the new jelly fish area.

Lunch was horrible. We ate at around 12:45p in the cafe near the jelly fish area. They had no cups for putting condiments in, so most people were using lids from drinking cups instead. They ran out of ketchup, but later came out with packets. My husband ordered a caesar salad but they had not dressing to match. We ordered a mac and cheese meal for my daughter, only to find out the wait would be 15 minutes longer than originally told and we had already started eating, so had to switch her to a hot dog meal.

We went to the 4D planet earth show. What a disappointment. After about 5 minutes of previews, our show lasted maybe another 5 - 7 minutes. You get sprayed with water numerous times and when it doesn't even make sense. And, then, there is one scene where this big stick come out in front of you and you get poked in the back through the chair, which pissed off my party. And, that happened 2x.

My son wanted to do one of those coin machines where they press an image onto your penny. So, he put a $1 bill in the change machine and got back 4 quarters, then put in his quarter in hopes to get some pennies and the machine ate his money. We were able to get someone from customer service to open the machine to retrieve his money and then had to go to the aquarium shop to get change.

For what we paid, we were hoping for a lot more. I had visited the aquarium with my husband long before kids, so was excited to finally be able to take them. For the most part, they had a good time. But, was hoping for a little more for the cost.

They took a photo of us when we first entered the building, which is supposed to be online. Can't find it, despite 24 hours later.

The bathrooms were ok. According to my son, the mens room was gross.

Visited February 2011
Thank randim56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NationalAquarium, Digital Communication Manager at National Aquarium, responded to this review, March 7, 2011
Thank you so much for your review. We take visitor comments seriously, and have passed yours along to our Visitor Experience team.

With regards to your dining experience, we’re very sorry it fell short of expectations. Our café just closed this week for a major renovation, and when it reopens in May, we will be debuting not only an upgraded facility, but also an entirely new menu. We’re giving our whole food service an overhaul, which includes new chefs, new food items, and an overall higher-quality dining experience. We hope you will come back again in the future and give it a second chance.

We agree that it was previously difficult to find your photos online, and have created a new page on our website with information specifically for "After" your visit, including how to find your photo. As TripAdvisor won't let us post links in our response, here are the directions to get there: From the National Aquarium's homepage, click on "Plan Your Visit" in the left navigation bar, then on "Plan Aquarium Visit." On the page that loads, click on the tab titled "After." Expand the paragraph under the heading "Find Your Photo." You will need to enter the number on the back of the PhotoCard you received at the time the picture was taken. If you have trouble locating your photo, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.

Again, we appreciate your feedback, as we’re always working to provide the highest-quality experience, and make improvements where necessary.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level 5 Contributor
59 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“worth visiting”
Reviewed February 25, 2011

I had visited the national aquarium at Baltimore with my family.My daughter loved the various exhibits there.We enjoyed the dolphin show and also watched the 3-d movie.
The aquarium is a one day visit and has a variety of aquatic animals kept in hygienic conditions. The tropical rainforests are also worth visiting. Overall a pleasant experience for everyone.

Visited November 2010
Thank julie0773
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Annandale, Virginia
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Just Okay - much of the same.”
Reviewed January 30, 2011

I went to Baltimore for a day trip with some friends and decided to go the aquarium. Having been to quite a few other aquariums, I was quite unimpressed. It felt like it hadn't been updated since they built it. It was pretty much fish tank after fish tank after fish tank- many of the same fish with the occasional shark tank and frog area. It wasn't very interactive (they had some touch screens which were interesting). It didn't have many other types of animals (otters, penguins, etc) that you see in better aquariums. For the price, I was expecting more. The jelly fish exhibit was neat - but too small and the big open tank full of sting rays and turtles was cool.

The dolphin show was also just okay - it lasted 20 minutes, of which maybe 5 minutes was the dolphins doing tricks. The other 15 was speeches about saving the planet and talking about dolphins and their senses.

Visited January 2011
Thank macman07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
1,209 reviews
508 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,809 helpful votes
“Nice Aquarium at the Inner Harbor--BUT a little PRICEY $$$”
Reviewed January 19, 2011

My husband and I had both been to the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore as kids, but it had been years since either one of us had been back. So, we decided to make it a point to get back to the Aquarium one day together. It was a cold day in January and I thought it would be a great way to spend the better part of an afternoon.

We arrived on a Saturday around 2:45pm. The aquarium was open until 5pm, but they actually stay open until 6:30pm for guests who are already admitted. We purchased 2 adult tickets to the aquarium & added the dolphin show ($3 each) to each of our passes. We decided not to purchased the 4-D Immersion Theater tickets. It still cost us around $56 for both of us to see the aquarium and dolphin show. We were handed our tickets and directed towards the entrance.

Once inside, we were standing in front of a huge waterfall. It was really pretty. Around the corner, we handed our tickets stubs to the greeter and were admitted. We were NOT given any printed maps. We were a little confused as to where to start & the lay out of the aquarium. We finally decided to start with the Glass Pavillion and the Australia Wild Extremes section. Here it s a nice open atmosphere. We saw turtles, fish, birds, lizards and a crocodile. It almost felt like being outdoors since it is a glass pavillion. It was really pretty inside and the atmosphere was designed to look like rocks, trees and nature. It maybe took us 15 minutes to walk through this section. Just outside this section is the Aquarium Cafe and Aquarium Gift Shop. We did not go to the Cafe, but we did stop at the Gift Shop on our way out.

After we exited this section we decided to go to the Pier 3 Pavillion. Here we walked past the large lighted bubble tubes. They were really pretty & it was neat how they reflected in the mirrored walls. The kids at the aquarium seemed really amused by them. Just past the bubble tubes, we saw the huge tank that had lots of stingrays, a few small sharks and a sea turtle in it. We even saw an employee diving with the fish. There were various types of stingrays in this aquarium--even an all white stingray. They were really neat and some of them were HUGE. From here we made our way up to the upper levels (2, 3 and 4). Most of these levels had various fish, anenomes, starfish, atlantic puffins (birds) and more. We saw some really funny fish on these levels. One fish in particular caught my eye since he had so much personality--this was the cowfish. He LOVED the cameras!! The puffins were really neat too, since you could hear them through the aquarium walls. I think they had microphones set inside so you could hear them & they were really talkative!

After visiting the fish levels, we made our way back down to level 1 so we could walk over to the Pier 4 Pavilion. One of the dolphins shows was starting. From the main lobby, we followed the long hallway down to Pier 4. Here we immediately saw the dolphin show area. We showed our tickets and were admitted. Here it is stadium style seating, with the first few rows being marked as the SPLASH ZONE. It was a really nice ampitheater. The staff seemed like they really enjoyed working with the dolphins. They had HUGE tv's on the wall that showed us some videos on dolphins. Then we got to see the dolphins in the ampitheater perform. The show probably lasted about 1/2 an hour. We both enjoyed the dolphin show and felt it was really worth the extra $3 to see the show. It would have been nice IF it had been included in admisson--because I think IF you don't see it, you are missing out on one of the best features. BUT, I would highly recommend paying the extra few bucks to see the dolphin show! BUT, IF you don't pay to see the show, you can still catch a glimpse at the dolphins through a tank viewing window on Pier 4.

After we saw the dolphins, we made our way around the corner to the Atrium area. Here there was the Atrium Cafe and the Jellies Invasion section. The jellyfish area was really small and compact. There basically one way in and one way out. So, it made a bottleneck effect instead of making people continually flow past the exhibits. Some of the jellyfish were really pretty, but some of them were hard to see due to the crowding. This section could use some improvement to add to the enjoyment of seeing these "prehistoric creatures" . This section might take 15 minutes to see.

Once we had seen the Jellies Invasion, we made our way back around to the long hallway that connected Pier 4 to the main lobby. We decided to make our way back up through the levels of Pier 3 so we could see the Upland Tropical Rainforest that is on the top level. It too is an all glass level similar to the Australia Exhibit in the Glass Pavillion. It is really pretty and WARM inside the Rainforest. Here we saw various birds, turtles and frogs. There are supposed to be sloths in the rainforest section too, but the guide couldn't even spot them! However, there were some really pretty birds like the Scarlet Ibis. These brightly colored birds were beautiful. Just outside the rainforest section is a small area with various frogs. I really enjoyed this section. The poison dart frogs are really vibrant (rred, blue, green, orange, yellow) & so cute.

As you exit the Pier 3 Rainforest area, you will go down an escalator into the Atlantic Coral Reef. This is a basically an oval room with stairs that go down the levels in circular fashion. Here we saw lots of sharks and fish. The sharks here were really amazing.

On our way out, we stopped at the MAIN gift shop and used the restrooms (which were clean). The MAIN gift shop is really large. Note: There are smaller gift shops set throughout (shark shop, atrium shop, etc) in addition to the MAIN Aquarium Shop. The MAIN gift shop was nice, but we did not see anything we had to have. IF you have kids, you might want to beware because I saw lots of things kids would probably beg their parents to buy!

Overall, we had a nice time at the aquarium. We ended up spending around 2 & 1/2 hours here to see all the exhibits. The exhibits were all very nice & all seemed VERY clean. The animals and fish all seemed healthy and well cared for & this is important to me in choosing an aquarium or zoo! I would recommend a visit to this aquarium. It is really nice. I just wish it were not as expensive & so confusing in terms of layout. However, we did feel we got our money worth--especially with the dolphin show. IF we had just purchased regular aquarium tickets & not seen the dolphins--I might not feel we had gotten our FULL value! So, please please pay the extra few dollars and see the dolphin show. In my opinion, it alone is worth half the ticket price!! Also, try to grab a map from one of the visitor desks to ensure you don't miss out on any of the exhibits!

TIP: Go to the aquarium website to check out the promotions and discounts. You can find discounts on admission, parking, local restaurants, hotels & etc on their website.

Visited January 2011
3 Thank daisyferret1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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