A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were looking for somewhere fun and different to take the kids, along with an escape from the oppressive Texas summer heat. We settled on the new Sea Life Aquarium in Grapevine, Texas. On their website I discovered you can buy discounted tickets before you go. We briefly discussed buying a year-long family pass, because it pays for itself after 3 visits, but ended up buying just a single visit.
My first warning sign was that this place is located inside a shopping mall. Inside the mall I found a kiosk that let me print the tickets we had bought at home. This ended up being pretty handy, because the ticket purchase line stretched far out into the mall corridor. Our pre-paid tickets got us into a shorter queue, but we were still shuffled through a maze of stanchions and past the optional group photo op in front of a green screen. Finally we came to a door at the end of a narrowing hallway, where we waited. From the time we got in, it took another 30 minutes to really get in the aquarium.
The door opened, and we were funneled into a holding room and greeted by a Sea Life employee. The room featured a 360-degree aquarium, filled with hundreds of small minnow-like fish. The fish circled the room in a counter-clockwise pattern while the Sea Life employee went over the dos and don’ts of the facility. She also explained that we should NOT pass up the restroom, because there would only be one chance during the tour. After her obligatory shpeel, another door opened and we were allowed to proceed to tour the aquarium. We chose to hang back and let the others go first, so we could take our time, and not bump others with our stroller.
We saw various tanks filled with all manner of fish, rays, seahorses, eels, jellyfish and a few sharks. Each display had a touch screen monitor describing the fish featured there. At the end of the tour was a rock pool, where kids could touch starfish, urchins and hermit crabs. My daughters, aged 5 and 2, seemed to really enjoy all of the “fishies.” I found myself disappointed with the experience, and thankful that we had not bought the family pass. It took less than an hour to see everything, and we really took our time getting through it. I consider it a lesson learned.
As an alternative, I recommend the Dallas World Aquarium in downtown Dallas. Though it is a little bit more expensive, it is a vast facility. It is less crowded and in addition to fish and sea critters, it features hundreds of reptiles, birds, and even MONKEYS! I left here feeling much more satisfied with the money and time I had spent.
Sea Life Aquarium Grapevine Mills Mall – 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway – Grapevine, Texas 76051
Hours of Operation: Mon- Sat 10:00M – 9:30PM | Sunday 11:00AM – 7:00PM *Last admission is 2 hours before closing.
Admission: Adult (13+) $16.15 Online | $19.00 at the door // Kids (3-12) $12.75 online | $15.00 at the door // Kids (2 and under) FREE