Las Vegas with Kids: Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
By June Santini
People say Las Vegas is like Disneyland for grownups. While that seems to me to be generally true--that the majority of touristy activities in Vegas are intended for those 21 and older--kids and families can also have a good time together in Vegas.
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
Even in November, the hot Las Vegas sun can be overwhelming. After you’ve had enough pool time and the kids have grown weary of arcade games, you can still escape the sun by visiting the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay Aquarium.
The Shark Reef Aquarium is the only accredited zoo and aquarium in Nevada. They do an amazing job of presenting the animals and fish as well as educating people about them. The collection includes a rare komodo dragon, which sports razor like teeth and venomous saliva. It is huge and amazing and pretty much worth the trip all on its own.
But the Komodo Dragon is far and away not the only reason to visit. The Aquarium is home to over 100 species, including twelve types of sharks.
Everything in Las Vegas seems to me to be over the top, larger than life, and the Aquarium is no exception. As you enter, the scenery is reminiscent of ancient Italian ruins. Lush, tropical foliage transports you from the desert of Vegas to the cool Mediterranean. Aquariums dot the landscape. This aquarium seems to feature lots of larger fish, which capti
vated my little one along with all of the other kids I saw there. There is something utterly fascinating about watching large fish calmly swimming back and forth, both for kids and adults.
The aquarium is home not only to fish, but also to lots of reptiles and a rare golden crocodile. The croc will simultaneously delight kids and let them pretend to be scared at the same time.
I had seen pictures of tubular tanks at many aquariums where visitors can walk underneath and feel immersed in the water along with the fish, but I hadn’t ever been through one before. Looking up and all around me, I saw the calm sharks, the small clownfish darting in and out of the coral, the scary looking giant rays. I felt like I was underwater with them. The baby was wide-eyed and fascinated.
I thought we had pretty much come to the end, but the best was yet to come. After walking through several more galleries with lots of more interesting specimens, we came to the highlight of the trip to the Shark Reef Aquarium: Neptune’s Fury. Imagine you are in the hull of a sunken ship; sharks circle the wreck ominously. There is no way out. (Except there is, of course, a way out.) It is fun to immerse yourself in the feeling of being in the sunken galleon, huge sharks endlessly swimming back and forth. But then you can leave. The simulated shipwreck is beautiful, and really fun. If you go to Vegas, don’t miss it!
Children (5-12): $12.00
Children (4 & under): free
Sunday - Thursday:
10:00 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday:
10:00 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Last admission one hour prior to closing.
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© 2012, KidsOutAndAbout.com
June Santini is Vice President of Operations at KidsOutandAbout. She lives in Honeoye Falls, NY with her husband, Steve, and two of their four children. She is adjusting to her half empty nest and comforting herself by taking her granddaughter to every cultural experience she can.