Sea Life Aquarium in Tempe Makes a Big Splash

When locals heard that Sea Life aquarium would replace the Hi-Health store at Arizona Mills Mall, everyone balked. Especially when it was revealed that the attraction, owned by British entertainment company Merlin Entertainment Group, would receive major tax breaks.

Apparently that didn't stop locals from checking out the aquarium. The mall was packed at the Mid-May opening, and even now -- weeks later -- lines for Sea Life still run outside and around the building. At least they were nice enough to install misters and shades. (Tip: Buy your tickets one day in advance online or at the Sea Life kiosk in the food court and you'll skip the line.)

So was the aquarium good enough to warrant long lines and an $18.50 price tag? Find out after the jump. 

The Pros

  • Get Tanked: With over 5,000 sea creatures and 30+ tanks, there's no shortage of displays here. The giant octopus, stingrays, seahorses and sharks were the highlights.

  • The Revolving Door: Have your hand stamped at the ticket counter and you can come in and out as you please the whole day for no additional cost.

  • Brain Food: Educational talks on stingrays, sharks or reef life every hour.

  • Be a Flasher: Scrapbook photos! Sea Life allows photography, though you'lll have to leave the flash off for the giant octopus and a few other creatures that can be damaged by the bright light.

The Cons

  • Big Bucks: $18.50 per adult is a little pricey, especially for an attraction inside a ghetto mall. To put that in perspective, it's $2.50 more than the Phoenix Zoo and $1.50 more than nighttime admission to Wildlife World Zoo's aquarium. 

  • Small Sharks: Despite the hammerheads and other massive predators printed on the Sea Life brochure, the aquarium has yet to import any terrifying man-eaters.

  • Stroller Obstacle Course: Even if you have little ones of your own, navigating the land of double-wide strollers is difficult. Especially when you're in a confined Plexiglas tunnel with water all around... 


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