As you stroll through the enchanting arched entryway and into the St. Louis Aquarium, you may notice that it looks at lot like a train station. At the ticket counter, there is a slit-flap board that flips through information just like train schedules being updated and switching to the next departure.
After purchasing your tickets, you enter the Grand Lobby while you wait to depart on your adventure. To explore the exhibits you first need to board the ‘train’ – a virtual ride narrated by St. Louis’ own John Goodman!
The train simulation takes your through St. Louis, down the Mississippi, and out to the ocean. Once off the train you enter the first exhibit, The Confluence Gallery. This gallery takes visitors deep into the Mississippi and Missouri rivers where you can view largemouth bass, longnose gar, paddlefish and other river fish.
In each exhibit there are touch screen displays presenting interesting information about all the wildlife you experience. This makes the exhibits that much more interactive!
The freshwater exhibits turn into the Global Waters. This exhibit houses the first of many touch pools throughout the aquarium. This pool is brimming with doctor fish common to Asia that like to nibble on dead skin. As you move through the Global Waters exhibit there is a large viewing tank of several red belly piranhas.
Global Waters flow into the Changing Rivers exhibit. Here’s where you’ll meet the adorable and famous otters, Thatcher, Sawyer and Fin. They are always out to play and put on a show for the visitors. Right by our otter friends, say hello to Tommy the Otter, in an interactive and animated talk show! Tommy answers questions and responds to audience reactions in real time.
Upstairs, the naturally lit Ocean Shore’s tidal pools welcome visitors to interact with ocean cucumbers, pencil urchins, stingrays, and sharks. Yep, that’s right, I said sharks!
If this happens to be a bit overwhelming for your little ones, they offer a private sensory room. They provide sensory play objects, water bubble displays, and comfy bean bag chairs.
Don’t forget to say “hi” to Lord Stanly, the rare blue lobster, while you are there! (Lets Go Blues!)
After getting to interact with the animals of the Ocean Shore, dive deep into Shark Canyon.
Shark Canyon, with 250,000 gallons of water, is the biggest display in the aquarium. Several viewing spots allow visitors to take in more than 80 sharks including sandbar sharks, blacktip reef sharks, and whitetip reef sharks. After visiting with the sharks, swim further into The Deep where you can view several different types of jellyfish, an octopus and even sea dragons.
One thing you’ll notice throughout the entire experience is the use of technology. It really makes the experience that much more immersive and special. On my visit, I noticed that those unique additions really engaged the kids AND the adults making the experience enjoyable for the whole family.