Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life

TOP-5 tips to better enjoy Ripley's Aquarium

For animal lovers | TOP fun lists

Get the most out of your visit to Toronto's new aquarium!

We went to visit the new Ripley's Aquarium on Sunday December 29 at the end of the afternoon. I assumed the crowd would be thinning by then. Wrong! We waited 90 minutes in the line-up, and the place was packed. But we loved it all the same.

The Dangerous Lagoon is an obvious favourite (we loved it so much we retraced our steps to see it one more time before leaving) but here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the rest of the atrraction.

1) Buy your ticket online!

When we visited, ticket holders got in twice as fast as people who were in line to buy their ticket on the premise. (And that was on a day where their timed-ticket system had a glitch. It seemed like they had sold more timed tickets than they could process.) Today, when I checked online, their system indicated when a time slot was sold out, which should solve the problem.

2) Arrive at the end of the day

This won't work for young families but a good tip if visiting with teens. Someone wrote on the Ripley's Aquarium Facebook page that they arrived at 8 p.m. on a day when the aquarium was open until 9 p.m. and were allowed to stay a couple of hours past closing time. I called to confirm this with the attraction's staff. I got their answering machine but it indeed said that the LAST ADMISSION was at 9 p.m. (a fact that is not mentioned on their website) with enough time to enjoy the attraction. (As a bonus, at night, you get to admire how the building looks like... an aquarium.)

3) Attend a diving session at the Ray Bay

At the entrance take note of the schedule for the diving sessions in the Ray Bay (the underwater window on the lower level) and try to get to that part of the aquarium 10 minutes prior to the session. The diver's mask was set with a microphone and she could talk to us as she fed the graceful rays. At one point, she threw food at a ray by the window so we could clearly see how it sucked in the food.


4) Take the time to explore some exhibits.

We liked the sound effect when we stand right under the large tube filled with tiny silver fish. My son found out he would be worth $3,931 if he were a tuna. By the tank where we could admire starfish, there was a fun video with a handle which you could spin to speed up or slow down starfish in action. In the shark section, another video with such a handle allowed us to view the shark attack in slow motion.

5) Allow your kids a $10 budget to spend at the gift shop

Kids feel really empowered when they have a little spending budget. I was glad to see that the gift shop offered many options under $10 (including many under $5). I noticed The Sea cool cube book and a Pocket Genius on Sharks, each for $9. There was a bag of fake but realistic shark teeth for $1. (Don't miss the trompe-l'oeil of the ocean horizon (to the left of the gift shop.)

For more pictures, see our photo gallery.



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