Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J.: Fun for Big Kids Too

My husband Mike, my 17-year-old daughter Tory and I went to Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J. earlier this week. I know. I know. “Why are we visiting an aquarium?”

Well, I like aquariums. A lot. And so does Tory. And Mike? He’s a very good sport.

The aquarium entrance is tucked around back of the large building.

We lined up outside in the windy cold to purchase tickets then raced around the corner of the building and into the (relative) warmth of the aquarium. Two open floors of laughing chattering families greeted us. We exchanged glances and took off for the 4D theater. Up the escalator, past the tables of families eating, past the huge food court with all the attendant odors of fried food, down the hall and into the theater. We grabbed our 3D glasses and settled in to watch a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs short and another on the scary and mystifying creatures who live in the deep dark sea. After being pummeled with meatballs, startled by toothy sharks who looked like they wanted to eat me, and squirted with ocean water we exited the theater laughing, ready for lots more fun. The entire aquarium awaited!

We rounded a corner and saw the “you pet” shark tank. All sorts of small sharks circled the shallow tank. All we had to do was dip a hand into the water and wait for a shark to swim by and we could “pet” it. We watched little kids teeter on the edge of the tank and stick their hands in; we watched parents of the little kids reach in for a pet. We did not reach in. We did not pet. This was not our exhibition.

Fish are our friends, not u-pet sharks.

Off we went to a large view tank. Huge fish ambled by the glass. They ogled us; we ogled them. This was more like it!

The large view tanks at the aquarium make it easy to get great close-up views of the residents!

Did I mention we are alligator and crocodile admirers? Yes, we are St. Augustine, FL Alligator Farm visitors from waaaay back. We have fed them, we have held (small) alligators, we have heard them bellow and roar from the relative safety of a boardwalk. At Adventure Aquarium we got to see an 800-plus-pound American alligator; his name is Mighty Mike. True, he isn’t as large as Gomek, the almost 2,000-pound crocodile whom we saw at the Alligator Farm both before and after his heart attack, but Mighty Mike is still a big’un.

Mike the Husband's body weight wasn't even close to Mike the Alligator's, even with the friendly staffer's big foot adding extra weight.

Prior to visiting Mike, we wanted to see how we measured up to his massive length and weight. Mike the Husband took the plunge and got on the “comparative” scale, but Mike the Husband barely tipped 170 pounds, no match for Mike the Alligator.

I stretched and stretched but barely came in at 6 feet long!

Tory and I lined ourselves up against the measuring tape painted on a nearby wall to see if we were anywhere near as tall as Mike the Alligator is long. We were laughing and having a great time! Enough that we stirred up a lot of interest from other families; said families caught the fun bug and lined themselves up against the painted wall and took photos of themselves as my family ambled in to eyeball Mike the Alligator. We stared for a while. Once Mike the Alligator tired of staring back at us we moved on to the smaller tank exhibits.

Mike the Alligator was watching us. . .every single one of us. . walk by.

Beautiful and harmless looking until you touch one!

Have you seen jellyfish hanging in midair like Japanese lanterns? Or seahorses playing among the sea grass? I had to tear myself away from the cute creatures! Or an eel with a bad attitude?

I never knew seahorses used their tails to grip!

See? It's smiling. No. Really!

Next we headed to the hippos. Adventure Aquarium has two happy hippos. One was chilling half in/half out of its pond while the other was doing laps, much to our delight. Have you seen hippo tails and the bottoms of their feet? Awesome. Simply awesome!

By the time we finished watching the hippos, avoided getting pooped upon by the birds flying free in their enclosure, then walking through the shark tunnel that dumped us out in the gift shop, Tory said another wild beast had awoken – her stomach. Exchanging glances, Mike the Husband and I knew time was now severely limited!

The penguins were on a mission. We just don't know what kind of mission.

We zipped our jackets, hustled out into the cold and visited with the penguins, one of Tory’s fav aquarium critters, then back to the parking lot. . .where Tory snagged herself a dirty water dog from one of the vendors. Thank goodness the dog held her rumbling stomach until we could get to a nearby PF Changs and silence the beast!

Adventure Aquarium is fun for all ages. It’s pricey, but you can get discount vouchers on line and through many towns’ recreation departments so check that out before you go. Also, it costs $10 to park in the monitored lot. Since Camden, N.J. is supposed to be one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, we paid to park! Once inside the aquarium, my only caution is that the food in the food court is really expensive and you have to keep passing through the food court to get to each of the wings of the aquarium. Kids will want those chicken fingers and fries so feed’em well prior to entering! Take the plunge. Visit!

For more photos take a look at my Flickr feed to the right!

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