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Vancouver Aquarium at Stanley Park

Vancouver Aquarium at Stanley Park

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.



Due to the coronavirus, the Vancouver Aquarium closed its doors in mid-March. High operating costs resulted in the Aquarium facing possible bankruptcy, so they began selling masks with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The good news is the Aquarium reopened on June 26th, with new safety measures in place. The bad news is that, as of September 7th, it closed to the public once again (and this time it looks even more serious). According to their website, they are pausing all on-site public programming and closing their doors to the public while they focus their attention on “transformation.”

To learn more about the current status of the attraction, see the Vanaqua.ca website.

For more events and attractions that are closed click Vancouver Events Cancelled Due To Coronavirus.


The Vancouver Aquarium

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. To help you justify the high cost – at between around $30 and $40 for adults depending on the season – remember that it is a non-profit organization and that they do a lot of conservation, research, rehabilitation, education and other valuable initiatives.

Children under 5 get into the Aquarium for free. Also, they have 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.


Boy Looking at Aquarium Jelly Fish


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 is 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. The Vancouver Aquarium is also a world leader in environmental education, research and conservation.


Conservation and Education

The Vancouver Aquarium prides itself on its conservation and education efforts. The Aquarium is a tourist attraction but that is second to its efforts in animal rehabilitation and visitor education. Areas of focus for the Aquarium include 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.


Vancouver Aquarium Fish


Temporary Exhibitions

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.


Scuba Claus at Christmas at Aquarium
Scuba Claus at the Vancouver Aquarium


Tips and Advice

Below are some suggestions and useful bits of information to help you get the most out of your visit to the Vancouver Aquarium.

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. Be aware though, the Aquarium does recommend a full day to get the full experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

TIP #2: Get there 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 15mins prior to a show time to get prime seating and make sure everyone in your group is with you or else you will not be allowed to line up.

TIP #3: The Vancouver Aquarium isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it if you like looking at fish and other marine life. To save money, you can bring your own food and snacks to have there or outside in the park as a picnic (or buy from the concession stand if you want the convenience and to support the Aquarium). Families from the area might also consider getting memberships which are paid off in just a few visits.

Tip #4: 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 and you will not be able to enter with them.

Tip #5: 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 #6: 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.


Other Information

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: