Georgia Aquarium

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The largest aquarium in the world, that’s right, the world is Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium. Featuring over 120,000 animals from more than 500 species in 10 million gallons of water, this expansive modern attraction is one of the hottest Atlanta has to offer.

About the Aquarium

Bernie Marcus, co-founder of the popular Atlanta-based home improvement franchise The Home Depot knew that he owed a tremendous amount of his success to the city and state that nurtured him in his business venture so many years ago. As such, Marcus was actively looking for a public service project that would give to Atlanta for years to come. Inspiration hit when visiting the Monterey Aquarium in Monterey, California for his 60th birthday in 2003.

The idea was to out-do all other aquariums on earth, and over the next year Marcus and his wife visited dozens of aquariums all around the world for inspiration. With the simultaneous goal to bring culture, tourists, and jobs to the greater Atlanta area, ground was broken quickly thanks, in part, to an unprecedented $250 million donation by Marcus himself. Then, an additional $40 million raised through corporate donations, allowed the aquarium to open without any debt.

Opening on 23 November 2005, the stats for the Georgia Aquarium speak for themselves. It houses more than 120,000 animals representing over than 500 species hailing from all corners of the globe. Taking up more than 550,000 square feet of covered space in downtown Atlanta near Olympic Park and CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium was an instant landmark in the city and helped kick a downtown revitalization project into high gear. The aquarium was immensely popular from that day on, inspiring record-breaking attendance right off the bat. Over 1 million people visited the aquarium in its first 100 days of operation!

As its founding principles would indicate, the Georgia Aquarium immediately set out to serve a dual purpose as a massive tourist attraction and income stream for the city of Atlanta as well as a world-class educational and research center. Utilizing 25% of its gallery space for a “Learning Loop” designed for students complete with leading-edge technology and interactive exhibits. The facility is also active in the pursuit of aquatic conservation through its Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health, a 10,000 square foot facility which also acts as a veterinary teaching hospital.

Main Attraction

Divided into six separate galleries dedicated to different parts of the world, there is not much that the Georgia Aquarium does not cover by way of animal life and aquatic habitat. The sections include Cold Water Quest, Dolphin Tales, Georgia Explorer, Ocean Voyager, River Scout, and Tropical Diver. The biggest draws for many visitors include the AT&T Dolphin Tales Show, which requires advance reservations and Deepo’s 3D Undersea Wondershow. However, each space offers a specific underwater environment as well as a target audience. Georgia Explorer, for instance, contains a number of touch tanks and other interactive exhibits that are geared towards the youngest visitors to the aquarium.

Georgia Aquarium is open 365 days a year and features extended hours during the summer period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Tickets are offered in “packages” that contain some or all of the special exhibits that the aquarium has to offer. This includes the “Total Ticket,” an all-inclusive pass to all the galleries, shows, and performances open that day, “Imagination Nights” tickets which offer discounted admission after 6 pm, group tickets, the “Deepo Pass” which offers expedited entry, and more. In addition, visitors can add behind-the-scenes tours, animal experiences, and other special features to their tickets to build a tailor-made experience.

The Georgia Aquarium offers many special events including aquarium sleepovers and holiday celebrations also occur throughout the year. The aquarium can also be booked for parties of 15 people or more, weddings, and corporate events. Each package is unique and can be customized to your needs.

Why It’s a Must-See

As the world’s largest aquarium, the facility of the Georgia Aquarium itself is worth the price of admission. With more options than may be possible to see in only one visit this one-of-a-kind cultural center is a great addition to any Atlanta trip and is guaranteed to offer something for everyone in your group.