OdySea AquariumAn oceanic adventure deep in the desert
Greeted by the sight of aquarium spheres suspended from the ceiling in the lobby, visitors to the recently opened OdySea Aquarium on Via de Ventura just east of Loop 101 begin an entertaining journey designed along an educational theme. “The storyline the visitor follows,” says developer Amram Knishinsky, “is, we follow a drop of water from when it falls from the sky, to rivers and lakes, to shores, to the depths of the ocean.” The layout of the various aquarium displays follows that logical progression.
First are the freshwater fish, divided as representative of three major river systems: United States rivers, South American rivers and Asian rivers. “People are amazed at the colors and size of species,” Knishinsky says, noting brightly colored fish are not exclusive to salt water.
Exhibits of shore species include a large touch pool where visitors can interact with stars and other fish varieties.
To enhance the experience of viewing the ocean depths, visitors take an escalator to a lower level — where they find themselves walking through acrylic tunnels completely surrounded by water. Describing the thousands of fish in the Great Barrier Reef tunnel, Knishinsky relates his supplier has told him he has the greatest diversity outside of Australia.
And then there’s the Living Sea Carousel — which Knishinsky calls his pride and joy. It’s comprised of five different theaters on a rotating platform. Every five minutes, visitors will see a new exhibit, a 50-foot-wide window to marine life from sea lions to sharks to sea turtles — in the comfort of their stadium seating — with entertaining and educational narration. A different theater presents a 10-minute 3-D film Knishinsky commissioned from an IMAX producer, Giants of the Ocean, on whale sharks and whales. They’re not in the aquarium, but Knishinsky says, “I want to educate people on how precious they are.”
9500 Via de Ventura, Scottsdale
Also On Site
The 35-acre OdySea in the Desert complex includes
OdySea Mirror Maze is designed to be an adventure to challenge your body and mind. The pathways through the maze are lined with mirrors, creating infinite reflections, impossible corridors and mind-bending light effects.
Butterfly Wonderland’s namesake attraction is a 10,000-square-foot atrium rainforest where you can walk among thousands of free-flying butterflies from around the world. There’s also a touchtank with manta rays, and coming later this year will be a rainforest reptile exhibit.
A marketplace of retail and restaurants, with many businesses expected to open later this year. The lower level will offer “experience retail” — an arcade, indoor merry-go-round, oxygen bar, and Polar Play, maintained at 5 degrees Fahrenheit, where you can enjoy ice sculpture and ice games — and, on weekends, live bands. Upstairs will be an international array of restaurants, whose patios all overlook the courtyard.
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