Hawaii Mom Blog: Off - Island: Aquarium of the Pacific




June 7, 2012

Off - Island: Aquarium of the Pacific

Five years ago we took Musician to the Aquarium of the Pacific.  He was just a year old, and it was obvious how much he loved the exhibits of the various marine life.
Since he loved Aquarium of the Pacific so much, we decided to visit it again during our recent family vacation to Southern California.  This visit would be different, however, not only because we'd have two more kids along for the visit, but also because of his diagnosis last year of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Knowing what his limitations and mannerisms would be as a child with an ASD, we were curious to see how he would react to and interact with the exhibits.  

Located in Long Beach, signs directing you to the Aquarium are aplenty.  Parking is plentiful too in a nearby structure ($8; credit/debit cards are not accepted), and a quick walk across the street and you're there at the Aquarium.

Immediately upon entering we were greeted by a giant blue whale hovering above.

The boys were immediately drawn to the preview exhibits of the various galleries.

The galleries represented different regions of the Earth, such as the Southern California/Baja Gallery, Arctic & Antarctic, and Tropical Pacific, with a focus on the Pacific Ocean, and the exhibits within each gallery showcased the various marine life found within each area.

Throughout the different galleries, the boys' favorite thing to do was touch the sea creatures in the various exhibits that allowed it.

They were able to touch (or attempt to touch - Smiley got scared sometimes) jellyfish, sharks, and stingrays!

Musician's favorite exhibit was the anchovies.  As the anchovies kept swimming around and around in their tank, Musician seemed to be in a trance.  It was no surprise that this was his favorite exhibit.  He loves watching things that keep going and going in a particular order or sequence (roller coasters, race cars on a race track, etc.).  He could have watched the anchovies all day.
Smiley's favorite exhibit was anything with a starfish ("Let's find the starfish!" he'd say at just about every exhibit).
He also really loved the Shark Lagoon - especially when it looked as if one was going right after him!
As for Baby - it was hard to tell which exhibit he enjoyed the most, because he kept pointing excitedly at just about everything.

My personal favorite displays were the ones of various jellyfish!  They're just such beautiful creatures!

We all loved the new June Keyes Penguin Habitat, including the fun photo op area with penguin replicas the kids can take pictures with!

In addition to the various marine life exhibits, there are numerous shows featuring the sea otters, seals and sea lions, and sharks, a Lorikeet Forest where you can feed the birds nectar, and there are many volunteers on hand throughout the Aquarium to help educate little ones on various aspects of sea life, in addition to offering fun activities to help with the learning process.

Overall Musician did wonderfully and truly enjoyed himself.  With the exception of near-meltdowns because of constantly wanting to ride in the elevators (elevators are one of his obsessions), it was so encouraging to see him really take in all the sights, make comments about the fish and other sea creatures, and what was really amazing for us was watching him try to touch the jellyfish and sharks (I never thought he'd want to try and touch the sea creatures!).

All of my kids loved different features of the Aquarium, and seeing the expressions on my kids' faces as they watched the sea otters, tried to touch stingrays, or discovered gigantic fish is priceless.

If you plan on visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific, whether or not you have a child with an ASD, it's good to be prepared and knowledgeable of what to expect during your visit to help make it a very enjoyable one.

Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific website or download their app if you have an iPhone or Android-powered phone to familiarize yourself with the Aquarium, the facilities, exhibits, and everything else it has to offer.

We hope to visit again in the future, when Baby is a little older to understand and appreciate more of what the Aquarium of the Pacific has to offer.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is truly a wonderful place to visit with the entire family!

Below is a slideshow of more photos I took at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  Enjoy!

Aquarium of the Pacific: 100 Aquarium Way,  Long Beach, CA 90802
General Admission: $24.95 ages 12+; $14.95 3-11; $21.95 62+

Thank you to the Aquarium of the Pacific for providing complimentary admission tickets for our family.

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