Sea Life Aquarium Offers Cool Displays, Interactive Fun

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Dino bones and sharks

A new Sea Life Aquarium recently opened in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. (In fact, it’s in the same Grapevine mega-mall that houses the Legoland Discovery Center I wrote about a few weeks ago.) There are Sea Life locations all across Europe and a few sprinkled around the U.S., so I thought I’d check it out and see what this 45,000 square-foot indoor aquatic center has to offer.

The short verdict: It’s pretty cool. My city already has the large and impressive Dallas World Aquarium, and this doesn’t compete with that facility’s excellent rainforest adventure. But Sea Life is well-crafted, and it has lots to interest and entertain the under-12 set. It’s really a great place for a short walk-through visit with a young kiddo like mine, so I wish the tickets were a little less expensive. But if your kids like to spend a lot of time exploring and watching aquatic life, you’ll likely get your money’s worth.

A few of the best features:

  • Aquatic life: Sea Life Grapevine has a nice collection of peppy stingrays, several smallish sharks, pretty clownfish (Nemo! Nemo! Nemo!), jellyfish, seahorses and more. It’s the greatest hits of the sea, with some interesting diversity thrown in.
  • Decor: The Sea Life folks have given it their all in the design department. Every display features an interesting setting, like the faux-stone “temple” of the seahorse display, or the sunken helm and anchor of the pirate shipwreck display (which also houses tropical fish and coral). My son was a big fan of the dinosaur bone displays in various tanks and the fossil-hunting station.

    The 360° Ocean Tunnel. Yes, my kid is wearing Spider-Man gloves.
  • Drama: The 360° Ocean Tunnel is a neat display, and the Shark Walk lets you stroll out onto glass floors and look down at the creatures swimming below you. Although the aquarium is set up on a unidirectional-flow plan, there’s a loop that allows you to skip the Shark Walk if it’s too intense for your kids — a thoughtful touch. (However, my 3-year-old ate it up and was only disappointed that we wouldn’t let him jump around on the glass floors.)
  • Interactivity: There’s a rockpool display at the end that allows little ones to touch some of the creatures, but there are also interactive aspects all through the aquarium, like the pop-in bubbles in some tanks that allow kids to be “immersed” in the displays. The tanks in all the displays are thoughtfully positioned for easy viewing by little tykes.
  • Education: We didn’t take the time (or spend the money) to try the Behind-the-Scenes tour, and we skipped the Dive Discovery Cinema, but I liked that the aquarium offered more in-depth information for those who were interested.
One of the pop-in bubbles

Things to note:

  • Adult tickets are $19 at the door, $16 if purchased online in advance. Kids’ tickets are $15 at the door and $12 online. There’s a $12 online special on midweek after-5 p.m. tickets. (Plus tax on all of those.)
  • You can purchase a combo ticket that allows admission to both Sea Life and the Legoland Discovery Center that’s right next door. ($31.40 for adults, $24.90 for kids 3-12, tax included)
  • There’s a play area at the end, so don’t forget socks for the kids if they’ll want to use it.
  • Yep, they do birthday parties. And yes, there’s a gift shop to get through at the end.