Sea turtles, stingrays and sharks – oh my!
Our family was invited to visit the Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America with complimentary passes in exchange for my writing an honest review. Needless to say, our kids were super excited to visit, especially Thor, our 3-year-old, who couldn’t wait to see the sharks!
The Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America is the largest underground aquarium in the world with more than 10,000 sea creatures, a 300-foot ocean tunnel and 30 display tanks.
We visited on a Monday evening in May when the mall is typically less busy. The Sea Life Aquarium wasn’t crowded at all and we went right in and got our hands stamped (with a hand stamp you can leave and come back as many times as you want that day).
At the entrance the kids were immediately “lured” in by all the interactive activities including sea animals including sea stars and urchins that you could touch in an interactive rock pool, and a tank with funny “dancing eels” that swayed in the sand and made the kids laugh. The kids were also excited about the “Ray Lagoon” tanks full of cownose stingrays. You could climb stairs to view them from above as well, and there are tunnels for kids to climb through and play in.
After exploring these activities for a while we began our walk through the underground aquarium. It was dark as we walked through the Jellyfish Discovery where we learned facts about jellyfish including that they are made of 95% water! Then we continued to see the Seahorse Kingdom and Octopus Garden (closing May 14th). It was so interesting seeing an octopus completely change colors to blend into its surroundings!
We continued to the 300-foot Ocean Tunnel which consists of 4 tanks:
- Rainbow Reef – sharks, stingrays and tropical fish
- Atlantis – sharks, sawfish, sea turtles
- Amazon River – pacu fish, catfish, exotic species
- Sturgeon Lake – Alligator Gar, Lake Sturgeon and more
Thor was fascinated with the sharks!
After we enjoyed the tanks we walked through a rainforest trail with interesting exhibits and then at the exit posed with a megalodon jaw! (On weekends and other busy times you can have a professional photo taken for $18 and up.)
At the end there’s a gift shop with lots of fun souvenirs.
The Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America is great fun for families at any time of year. It’s open 7 days a week and standard box office ticket prices are: Adult $22.99, Child 3-12 $16.99, and children under 3 are free.
However, I’ve checked around and found there are various ways to get discounted tickets. Here are six ways I’ve found:
1. Buy tickets on Goldstar.com. Goldstar offers discounted tickets for attractions and events and if you’re planning to visit before June 6th, right now you can buy discounted tickets for the Sea Life Aquarium from $9.92 – $13.23 (plus service fees ranging from $3.50 – 4.00 per ticket) if you use them before that date. (Hurry – this deal will end soon.)
2. Buy online. Online super saver tickets are discounted as much as $7 for Minnesota residents ($6 for all others).
3. AAA, College and Military discounts. The Sea Life Aquarium offers discounts of $2 for college students with ID, $3 off for AAA members with ID, and $4 off if you have a Military ID.
4. Printed Coupons. Coupons can be found everywhere – check Subway restaurants in the Twin Cities area, Sea Life advertisement kiosks at the Mall of America, and coupon inserts in the Sunday paper (I’ve found coupons in the paper show up once every few months). Typically these coupons will be for $4-5 off an adult admission and $2 off a child admission, OR Free child admission with the purchase of an adult admission.
If you’re interested in combining a Sea Life admission pass with other attractions:
5. Buy the Mall of America Entertainment Pass. The Mall of America™ Entertainment Pass is a combination Ticket for both Nickelodeon Universe and SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium and can be purchased online for $41.99.
6. The Big Ticket. Visit BloomingtonMN.org for information about The Big Ticket. This can be purchased online or at the Mall of America North Gift Store. It offers 30% savings by offering admission to up to 6 attractions including Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Water Park of America, Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Zoo and Great Clips IMAX Theatre (at the Minnesota Zoo). The Big Ticket is currently: Adults $79.00 and Children $69.00 (ages 2-13).
There are also other options including year-long membership (prices range from $49 – $199 though specials are often available).
(Disclosure: I was provided with 4 complimentary tickets for my family to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine.)