The Vancouver Aquarium at Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s top attractions with all its fish, sea otters, sea lions, 4D theatre and various exhibits.
The attraction is located at 845 Avison Way.
Rain or shine, year-round the Vancouver Aquarium is one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions (although do bring an umbrella if it’s raining as half the things to see are outside).
The Vancouver Aquarium isn’t cheap, but it’s a good one. When it’s open, children under age 3 get into the Aquarium for free. Also, the place has a really cool 4D movie theatre, so be sure to check that out along with all their regular marine animal shows.
If you have been to the Vancouver Aquarium before but not for a while, then go again – a lot has changed in the last little while.
Admission to the Aquarium
Since the Aquarium re-opened in 2021, visitors have needed to book their tickets in advance. This is to help the venue manage capacity. Tickets can still be purchased at the gate, but it’s recommended to get them online.
Prices to visit the venue as of early 2022 are the following:
- Adults (ages 13 to 64) – $42.00
- Children (ages 3 to 12) – $26.25
- Students (with ID) – $36.75
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $36.75
- Infants & Toddlers (ages 0-2) – Free
Membership at the Aquarium costs less than the price of two visits, so it’s a pretty good deal. Membership rates as of early 2022 are the following:
- Adults (ages 13 to 64) – $73.50
- Children (ages 3 to 12) – $42.00
- Students (with ID) – $63.00
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $63.00
Family memberships are also available, but they are simply the regular cost of one or two adults plus the cost of however many children are in the family. You can get a family membership, but there is no additional discount.
About the Aquarium
A number of factors make the Vancouver Aquarium as popular as it is. For example, it is Canada’s largest aquarium, and one of the five largest in North America. It’s also the oldest aquarium in Canada.
Since opening in 1956 as Canada’s first public aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium has grown dramatically, with over 100,000 square feet of area today, 1500 staff and volunteers, 50,000 animals, and hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. As many as 5000 or 6000 people visit the place on a busy day (or at least they did before the pandemic).
The Vancouver Aquarium has also been a world leader in environmental education, research and conservation. (Hopefully that continues under its new ownership.)
Due to the coronavirus, the Vancouver Aquarium closed its doors in mid-March of last year. High operating costs resulted in the Aquarium facing possible bankruptcy. The attraction reopened in late June of 2020 with new safety measures in place. On September 7th, however, it closed to the public once again.
On April 15th, 2021, the Aquarium announced that it had been sold. The new owner is Herschend Enterprises which is a large US-based corporation that operates theme parks. The company also owns aquariums in New Jersey and Kentucky.
Nearly a year after it closed last fall, the Aquarium reopened on August 16th in 2021.
Conservation and Education
The Vancouver Aquarium has prided itself over the years on its conservation and education efforts. The Aquarium is a tourist attraction but that has been second to its efforts in animal rehabilitation and visitor education. Areas of focus for the Aquarium in the past have included rescue and rehabilitation of animals, plastic wise education of the public and world class marine life research to benefit future conservation efforts.
Things to See at the Aquarium
There are lots of things to see and do at the Vancouver Aquarium. In addition to the 4D theatre and displays featuring tens of thousands of fish, there are daily sea otter programs, shark talks and more.
Animal Encounters at the Vancouver Aquarium
Another great way to support the aquarium and learn more about marine animals is the Aquarium’s Animal Encounters program. Participants can choose from four different experiences which include behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium, educational opportunities and up-close encounters with marine animals.
Options for the Animal Encounters program include the Penguin Encounter, Sea Lion Behind-the-Scenes, Sea Otter Behind-the-Scenes and Be a Biologist. All four Encounters can involve feeding, training and interacting with the animals, plus learning about the Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program conservation and research.
The Vancouver Aquarium hosts temporary exhibits that tend to change every year or two. In previous years, an exhibit where visitors could pet stingrays was very popular. At the end of 2018 a new exhibit called the Vortex was put on display, replacing the stingrays.
The Vortex art exhibit was created by the Canadian artist Douglas Coupland. It transports visitors to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and shows the terrible effects plastic have on our oceans. This educational and startling exhibit hopes to educate visitors on the harmful effects of plastic and ways to prevent this from happening in the future.
Special Events at the Aquarium
From time to time the Vancouver Aquarium hosts special events. Sometimes there are fancy fundraising dinners and other times adults-only evenings and even family sleepovers.
One of the most popular special events is during the Christmas season when the Aquarium gets decorated, holiday films are shown in the 4D theatre, and Santa (a.k.a. Scuba Claus) entertains people and swims with the fish.
For details about the Aquarium during the Christmas season, click Holiday Traditions and Scuba Claus.
For a list of other events of interest throughout the year, see the Aquarium’s Event Schedule.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions and useful bits of information to help you get the most out of your visit.
TIP #1: As it’s located in the middle of Stanley Park, consider spending part of the day touring the park and then part of the day at the Aquarium. If you still have hours remaining, the parking ticket you pay for at the aquarium is valid at other places throughout the park.
TIP #2: Arrive early so you can see more of the programs and feedings. Also, don’t miss the 4D show, and don’t wait until the last showing in case it fills up. For the 4D shows, show up at least 15 minutes prior to a show time to get prime seating.
Tip #3: Do not bring straws or outside drinks into the Aquarium. They will be confiscated for the safety of the animals. Also be aware that all children’s bikes, scooters or skateboards will be kept at the entrance of the Aquarium. Visitors are not able to enter with them.
Tip #4: The Vancouver Aquarium is an environmentally-friendly facility with many different ways of disposing of waste. Read each waste bin carefully and put everything in its right place to help the environment.
Tip #5: Be sure to spot the sloths in the Amazon before you leave the aquarium. They are our one of our favourite animals at the aquarium.
For more information about the attraction, check out the Vancouver Aquarium‘s website.
To learn about a seafood-related environmental initiative led by the aquarium, check out our article about the Ocean Wise Program.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Top Vancouver Attractions
- Vancouver Places for Children
- Educational Activities in the Lower Mainland
- Great Vancouver Zoo
- Maplewood Farm
- Stanley Park