Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

I may be the only person in the world who feels this way but I was a little "meh" about the aquarium that everyone told us was amazing.  I think part of the reason is because I'm not familiar with aquariums.  I'm familiar with zoos where I can walk around at a leisurely pace and visit different areas and take my own path.  I thought an aquarium was just a fish zoo and it would be the same type thing.  But this was a crowded tourist attraction where you follow the particular path they have created for you.  So I got a little claustrophobic and had to skip out on the first corridor and rushed Sarah down the hall to try to get some breathing room and didn't even try to go into the packed shark education exhibit.  But despite my anxiety Sarah had a GREAT time, Cody had a great time, and Chris felt like we got our money's worth even though he clearly married a whack-a-do.

The aquarium was beautiful though.  They did a great job.  I could just watch fish tanks forever and Sarah was no different.  I was a terrible mom and totally just stood back and let her invade people's personal space so she could put her face as close to the glass as she wanted.

My favorite part was the shark tunnel.  One it was just cool to see all the sharks swimming around you like that.  But I really liked that you stood on a moving sidewalk and rode through the exhibit in your own personal space without having to wait in line to get close to the glass.  I again was an awesome parent and put Sarah up on the ledge and let her walk along while holding my hand.

There was just something so beautiful about the shark tunnel.  But what I could have stood in front of for hours was the Coral Reef Tank.  It was just gorgeous.  I tired to get a picture of the kids looking at it wide eyed but I'm not really sure about how to make lighting adjustments with my DSLR so the pictures where you could see it was a fish tank were blurry and then the other ones it was just a dark room with my kids and their reflections off the glass.  Bummer.  

Eventually we made it into the discovery room Chris helped Sarah pet a horseshoe crab.  He asked me if I wanted to pet them too but those things just looked freaky.  

And they had lots of these cute tanks that the kids could crawl under and pop up into.  Sarah loved them.

Look a whole tank of Nemos!

And Cody found Nemo too!  He loved watching all the movement in the tanks.

They also had this neat Penguin Playhouse.  It was a tunnel that let you crawl through the penguin habitat.  So you could see the penguins swimming around you and then pop up in the rocks where more of them were hanging around.   

Random picture of the jelly fish tank.  I really enjoyed how the tanks were lit so the different fish really popped. 

Did you ever have a bad summer job?  Because I think this one really takes the cake.  These poor girls have to swim in the sting ray tank as mermaids for the mermaid show.  They did not look excited at all as the scooted into the chilly water to swim with the things that killed Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter.  Then they had to shimmy in front of the glass in the underwater viewing area of the cafe.  I really don't now how much you would have to pay me to do that.  I don't think you actually could.  I can't stand getting into oceans and lakes because I hate it when nature brushes past me.  Bluh!  

We finished our morning outing with walk down the main strip looking for the great German place we ate 6 or 7 years ago when we were here.  We didn't find it.  Instead we went to some place that had decent food but horrible service.  Then on our way out we glanced across the street and saw The Village where the German place was located.  Oh well.  And walked down by the Pigeon River to snap a quick pic with daddy and the kids on the way back to the car.

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