- It starts with a short, virtual, 3D submarine adventure ride to the bottom of the sea…where you buckle up.
- Gain up-close and personal physical contact with a variety of friendly sea creatures in the touch pool.
- Visit the Lionfish! They get their name from their long, colorful fin rays that resemble a lion’s mane.
By Forrest Fisher
The mountain darkness was so very welcoming during an early rise and shine morning to go fishing in Branson, Mo. As I sipped a hot cup of coffee, the daybreak air was fresh with a sweet smell of morning dew. It was revitalizing. We drove toward Branson in the nightfall, and as we turned the corner to Main Street, we discovered the highway strip was alive with lights and displays. It was dazzling. One lighting array that caught my eye was a giant octopus. It was large enough to surround the building below it. The octopus appeared alive and moving with glimmering blue, green, purple and silver flickering reflections of backlit lights. It is a spectacular light display.
My friend and driver, Jim Zaleski, was familiar with Branson and mentioned that it has modernized and grown in the last five years. “This giant octopus marks the entryway to the new Aquarium-at-the-Boardwalk. If you have not visited that place, you should go there before you head home. It’s all saltwater ocean life oriented and cool, especially for big kids like you.” Our trips are filled with a bit of bantering.
Later that day, I mentioned the Aquarium to my bride of 53 years – she wanted to visit immediately, as Rose is a renowned venue explorer. I hurried through the shower, and away we went! After entry, the mesmerizing venue provides a walking journey of the undersea ocean world. It all starts with a short, virtual, 3D submarine adventure ride to the bottom of the sea. We sat in a large armchair with a safety belt. All hooked up; we met Aquarius the octopus and Finn the puffer fish as the sub took us to a remote and notably secret ocean location observatory. As we stepped off the submarine, Finn mentioned, “We are about to learn more about the oceans, fish, sea creatures, and the importance of weeds and kelp. Watch your step.”
Our walking journey in the Aquarium continued, and we discovered that fish and sharks have peering eye expressions and fishy smiles…we never knew about those before. It provided more than one ah-hah moment for me. The nose-to-nose views of many colorful fish species and amazing sea creatures, including seahorses, jellyfish, octopus and eels, provided captivating and thought-stimulating flashes for a new voyage and realization of sea life. We both felt lifted to a new level of respect for sea life and conservation.
The Aquarium building is large and comfortable at just under 50,000 square feet. The displays deliver a measure of viewable magic that you are free to capture if you bring a camera, which is allowed, to relive these moments.
One thing about the incredible walk-through exhibits, you can see the tops and bottoms of the many finny critters of the sea. You stand above them as they swim below you in places, and they swim above you in areas. You look straight up to see them in other places. The 360-degree walk-around displays in the jellyfish infinity room, the fantastic sting rays tank, and the coral reef display provide new views of undersea life.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy bonus moments of discovery with interactive fun at the touch pool. We were able to gain up-close and personal physical contact with a variety of friendly sea creatures. The touchy-feely sensation is a discovery moment for everyone.
With each display, the Aquarium focuses on fun with a wide variety of interactive and entertaining activities – there are more than 7,200 critters, forms of sea life, fish, animals, and creatures in the building. Kids may help make discoveries to help the fishes of the sea and people of the world learn much more about life and science. Together.
This is one stop we had o make, and I can still sense the power of learning more about the oceans as we drive home.