Family Fun for at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – a Must See Attraction in Toronto
On New Year’s Eve our family went to a very special place. It was a place where children are mesmerized, grandparents were amused and parents were…well, really impressed. I have been wanting to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada since it opened up last year. It was one of the most unique aquarium experiences. I have seen some pretty impressive aquariums with my children (The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago for one). My daughter said she just loves visiting aquariums and she’s 15.
Here is a pictorial overview of what we saw last week. Later on this month, you can read my son’s review of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. For now, I would like to give you a general overview of what you will see and experience.
Ripley’s is conveniently located beside the CN Tower and across a plaza from the Roger’s Center. We took the subway and walked through the Skywalk toward the Roger’s Center. This made the chilly walk easier and much warmer than if you had walked up from Union Station. You can certainly make a day of it by going to the Aquarium first thing in the morning (give yourself 2.5 – 3 hours to see this wonderful attraction).
As soon as you walk in, you will see the water play area below. It is part playground, part sensory experience and will lead eventual to a full service eating area. I like that the area is colourful and full of interesting things for the kids to do. You will eventually make your way to this area once you have passed through the Dangerous Lagoon (more on that in my son’s review).
When you walk in you see a large fresh water tank with a current running through it. This is the beginning of the Canadian Waters Gallery featuring 17 exhibits. The Great Lakes Exhibit (see pictures above) is so wonderful. The girls and I just stood there mesmerized as we watched the fish swim in a circle. When you put your face up close to the glass it’s like you are right there, in the stream with them. You feel as if you are swimming with the school of fish. Some of the featured creatures were: Alewife, Largemouth Bass, American Lobster, Wolf Eel, Lumpfish, Giant Pacific Octopus, China Rockfish.
(R) You have no idea how big this lobster was. It.was.huge. (L) I love this lobster because it was an electric blue colour.
Giant Pacific Kelp grows two stories high. They are part of the The Pacific Kelp Exhibit which features a wave maker that simulates the surge conditions of the British Columbia shoreline. It is housed in almost 360,00 litres of water. The way in which the kelp sways in the water, the contrast of colours and the sheer size the stems makes this a very interesting exhibition.
The highlight of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has to be the full emersion inside the Dangerous Lagoon. The lagoon is inhabited by Sand Tiger Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Roughtail Stingrays, Green Sawfish and green sea turtles. As you pass through on a moving walkway, you are completed surrounded by these magnificent creatures. You also have the option of walking through the exhibit but the leisurely speed that this human conveyor belt works at seem just the right speed to take everything in without missing too much . You will see majestic stingrays ‘fly overhead. Can you believe that Saw head short above me? Try as I may, this was one of the only pictures that turn out. All those sea creatures are fast, fast, fast!
We also took the time to watch the Stingray & Shark show. Lead by a knowledgeable Aquarium staff member, she told all of us about the Stingrays habits and habitat. There was an assistant in full scuba gear in the tank feeding the fish. I was so great to see.
It is costly to attend Ripley’s (Adults are $30, Students (6-13) & Seniors $19.95 and children $9.95 (3-5)). There is a $5 discount if you enter after 7 or if you gave a group of ten or more. If you are interested in a group rate, you must contact Ripley’s at least three days before your visit. Visiting in the evening may be a better time to go if you have older children or teens. I would imagine there would be fewer young families (and their strollers) at the aquarium. If I were to do this again (and I am pretty certain I will), I would chose to go in the evening. I cannot deny it was our choice to go on a busy holiday morning but as you can imagine, it was packed on New Year’s Eve. I would suggest calling them to find out when is a good time to go if you want less people around.
Without a doubt, this has to be one of Toronto’s premier family attractions. Don’t let little children gawking at the wonders of the sea scare you off if you are an adult, I would think this would be a great ‘date’ night idea. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has lots of different programs and events that would be appealing to anyone. From Jazz night every 2nd Friday of the Month to a romantic dinner for two for St. Valentine’s Day or hosting a corporate event the backdrop would be stunning.
If however you want a memory-making experience for your children, Ripley’s Aquarium can host a thematic birthday party, a more adventurous Stingray experience (where you don a wet suit and get to spend some time with the stingrays) or maybe your kids want a longer more in-depth learning experience, you can currently book Day Camps during March Break
Details you need to know:
Open 365 days a year, 7 days a week!
Open 9 am – 11 pm (with earlier closing if there is a private function – check their online calendar).
288 Bremner Boulevard
Phone: (647) 351-FISH (3474)
Disclosure: Our family were guests of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. I am happy to provide review. It was a wonderful experience and I was happy that we had this opportunity to go as a family. All opinions are my own.