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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

We knew on our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains that we would be visiting Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.  We had visited the aquarium before in 2001 when Sunshine was a baby but this little guy had yet to be born

He is a true animal lover and loves aquariums in general so we knew that we had to take him to the aquarium.

Since I am trying to be more spontaneous and have a "just go with it" attitude with the kids while they are little I didn't plan out our days like I normally do on vacation.  I wanted this trip to be relaxing.

We hadn't set out to visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies on the day we visited but an unexpected rain storm left us wandering the streets of Gatlinburg in rain ponchos.  That's when we decided now was just as good a time as any to visit the aquarium, and the day wouldn't be ruined by the rain.

We also knew we would be visiting the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge later on in our trip so we decided to purchase combo admission tickets that would allow us to get into both attractions.  The combo tickets were $37.19 each for adults and $16.89 each for children.

Regular ticket prices are $22.99 for adults, $11.99 for children ages six to eleven, and $5.99 for children ages two to five.

Once we were inside the aquarium it was crowded, but that’s probably because everyone else had the same idea as we did, to enjoy the aquarium inside instead of being outside in the rain.

The aquarium for the most part was exactly how I remembered it in 2001.  The same exhibits, the same attractions, so on and so on.  There hadn’t been any changes to it in the last ten years, which was kind of a disappointment to me.  The only change to the aquarium that was noticeable was the addition of the Penguin Playhouse.

The Penguin Playhouse for me was not quite what I expected.  It was one area where penguins lived.  The only really neat thing about it was the fact that there were glass tunnels that kids were able to climb through the water of the penguins home and come up inside of a glass bowl inside of the penguins area.  It was neat, and the kids enjoyed it. 

There was also an outdoor area with a Penguins Playhouse cutout where pictures could be taken, and there was what appeared to be a snack shop, but it was closed at the time of our visit.

Here's What You Need to Know to Make The Most of Your Visit:
  • Tickets can be purchased online or at the Aquarium.
  • Discount tickets are available.  You can find coupons for admission to the aquarium at different locations around town or you can purchase combo tickets for multiple attractions.
  • Adult admission is $22.99, admission for children ages six to eleven is $11.99, and admission for children ages two to five is $5.99
  • No outside food or drink is allowed.  There are a few snack shops located inside of the aquarium.
  • It took us about two hours to get through the aquarium
Here's How We Rated Our Trip to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies:
The aquarium is a nice family attraction in Gatlinburg, and is definitely worth a visit.  I was disappointed that it had not changed or updated in the ten years since our first visit but it does not make it a bad attraction.  I highly recommend visiting it while in Gatlinburg.

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