For those who have already made the trek to Toronto’s newest family attraction, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada may have felt more like a zoo than an aquarium. During peak hours, the long line ups and layers of adults, kids and strollers likely had young adventurers missing half the experience while parents stressed about losing their tots in the packed dark galleries.
But don’t let the chance of overwhelming crowds deter you, this incredible 135,000-sq-ft home to 16,000 marine and freshwater creatures is well worth the visit (and re-visit to see all you had to skip on the first-go.) If the jellyfish don’t mesmerize you, then the front-row experience in the Dangerous Lagoon (moving sidewalk in the underwater tunnel) will blow you away. Those fishy guys put on quite the show.
Get organized before: Open year-round (9am to 6pm Sunday to Thursday and 9am to 9pm Friday and Saturday.) Buy time tickets in advance and try for quieter periods such as a 9am start, a weekday or an evening entry. Follow them on Twitter as they often post wait times.
Get organized there: Find the schedule for the day so you can take in the feedings and dive shows. Spend time at all the cool hands-on stations. Didn’t think you’d need a stroller? You can rent them at guest services for $3.
Wanna go again? Family Memberships are not yet available, but there are Annual Passes (adults $100/youth 6-13 $60/child 3-5 $25.) There are also birthday parties (currently sold out until June 2014), sleepovers (for kids; adult sleepovers coming in 2014) and field-trips.
Snack: A laughably small café is conveniently located half-way through and right next to a play area with tons of hands-on stations. Lots of visitors looked to have brought their own food and weren’t sent away from the tables.
Buyer beware: As with most attractions nowadays, you’ll be exiting via the gift shop.