I’ll be honest, I was pretty stoked to visit the New England Aquarium because it looked so awesome from the outside, their whale watch was fun, and everyone seemed to enjoy talking about the aquarium.
After waiting in line for an hour for a ticket, though, I was feeling moderately annoyed. Especially after I got felt up by an errant five year old.
When I got inside, I was feeling even more annoyed. You couldn’t get near several of the exhibits, let alone read the information on the displays, because of the sheer number of people and strollers packed into the space. Suffice it to say the aquarium looks much larger from the outside.
I decided to follow the arrows outside to see the seals and sea lions, thinking the fresh air would help and I could sit for a few minutes and watch the seals.
It was like a really bad sitcom. One of the seals would yell and the huge crowd gathered around would all laugh together. In the same tone. For the same amount of time. Every time she made a noise. On second thought, maybe it was more like a bad zombie movie. I decided to head back inside.
The inside of the aquarium is built around a huge saltwater tank that houses several sea turtles, rays, and sharks (when the sharks aren’t ill and being treated at another facility). A large ramp spirals up it, and around the rest of the building are smaller tanks like you would expect in an aquarium. The large tank in the middle is surrounded by a moat that has several penguins in it.
The aquarium is nifty when you imagine it, but actually walking through the traffic flow is a nightmare. The aquarium is dark, it’s crowded, and there is no real flow to it, which means people are jumping around and cutting each other off trying to see the different exhibits.
I hoped by the time I dodged the obstacle course of strollers going up the ramp of the large central tank that there would be something interesting going on. Sure enough, the top of the tank was much less crowded, and the aquarium was giving a presentation about the tank. Oh, and feeding the animals. Because the Other Half and I can’t visit a zoo or aquarium without seeing something get fed.
I at least wanted to give the aquarium a chance. Maybe I was being too judgmental or my father’s claustrophobia was starting to get to me. I walked by the entrance to the jellyfish exhibit three times before I finally found the stairs to it hiding in a corner. Okay, maybe I was pretty frustrated by this point. Through a hall and down in the basement is a really shabby room that holds all the jellyfish. Its saving grace was the fact that it was the only uncrowded place in the aquarium. And that I like jellyfish. But the exhibit was only half-put together and seemed like an afterthought, with old carpeting and fluorescent lighting. There were only a few tanks inside of a massive room that had nothing else in it; it just felt empty.
After only 45 minutes, I had walked the entire aquarium and decided I was done. I didn’t need the stress of trying to get near any of the other exhibits, and I was feeling frustrated at having spent money on a bad experience, so I wound up leaving to grab some food and sit in a park.
Because you know it’s bad when the best part of the aquarium was watching people jump every time the electric eel’s voltmeter went off…