Is Shedd Aquarium Worth The Hype?

Shedd Aquarium chicago
Shedd Aquarium chicago

Shedd Aquarium is an Aquarium with pretty much hype in the market. Shedd Aquarium includes all marine creatures one can think of. There are sea lions, belugas, penguins, stingrays, sea otters, octopuses, whales, sharks, turtles, and many more. The Shedd Aquarium dolphins are the friendliest dolphins you will ever meet. In the year 2015, the aquarium had 2.02 million visitors. It was the most visited aquarium in the whole U.S. in 2005, and in 2007, it surpassed the Field Museum as the most popular cultural attraction in Chicago. The aquarium has also received several awards as “best exhibit” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for Seahorse Symphony in 1999, Amazon Rising in 2001, and Wild Reef in 2004.


Shedd Aquarium is an indoor aquarium open for the public in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The museum was initially called John G. Shedd Aquarium, as John G. Shedd gifted the land for the Aquarium. Shedd’s wife Mary inaugurated the Aquarium by cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony on May 30, 1930. The Aquarium held 5,000,000 US gallons of water and become the largest indoor facility in the world but for quite some time. 

The cost of building the Aquarium was around 3 million $. It initially included 132 exhibit tanks. In the year 1971, Shedd Aquarium introduced its most popular exhibit name as Caribbean Coral Reef which holds about 90,000 US gallons of water. The Museum became so iconic that it was classified as a National Historic Landmark in the year 1987. In today’s date, it holds about 32,000 animals.


Shedd Aquarium became the first aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection.

Shedd Aquarium includes all marine creatures one can think of. There are sea lions, belugas, penguins, stingrays, sea otters, octopuses, whales, sharks, turtles, and many more. The Shedd Aquarium dolphins are the friendliest dolphins you will ever meet.

Permanent Exhibits

There are several permanent exhibits which are the main reason people visit here. 

  • Waters Of World
  • Carribean Reef
  • Amazon Rising
  • Wild Reef
  • Stingray Touch
  • Oceanarium
  • Fantasea
  • One World 
  • 4D Theatre

 Waters of the World

This is one of the oldest exhibits in the aquarium. It features exhibits on oceans, islands, rivers, lakes, and Chicago’s local water creatures. Exhibited Species include a Giant Pacific Octopus, Gymnarchus, Blue Iguana, Seahorses, Starfish, Haraldmeier’s Mantella, and Alligator Snapping Turtle.

Caribbean Reef

This exhibit was built in the year 1971. It was built on the site of the very first museum’s exhibit, the Tropical Pool. This exhibit has a very unique concept in which a diver interacts with the people and creatures in the exhibit. People absolutely love this exhibit as they get a chance to talk to animals. This exhibit holds around 90,000 gallons of water in a circular tank which allows a wider viewing area for the general public. The exhibit is in the center of the first floor and it is purposely placed that way to attract maximum attraction. The videos of this specific exhibit have become viral many times on social media platforms. It displays Tarpons, Stingrays, Nickel, Green Sea Turtle, Bonnethead sharks and many more.

Amazon Rising

The name says it all. This exhibit is spread in 8,600 sq. foot. This exhibit is a recreation of The Great Amazon River and The Jungle. The moment you enter you know what is special in The Great Amazons. This exhibit displays 250 different species The Exhibit won Best Exhibit of the Year from both the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the American Association of Museums. Their exhibit includes rainfall, interactive video, interactive soundscape, and changing water levels. This exhibit is very popular amongst children who wanna learn about The Great Amazons. It has Anacondas, Piranhas, Freshwater Stingrays, Spiders, and Caimans. Many schools organize a special educational visit for the students to make them learn about The Great Amazons.

Wild Reef

The WildReef Exhibit was opened in the year 2003. The Wild Reef Exhibit is located two levels below the building. The exhibit contains 525000 gallons of water. This Reef is a recreation of the Philippine Coral Reef. It is home to Sandbar Shark, Zebra Shark, Blacktip Reef Shark, Green Sawfish, Moon Jelly, White-spotted Guitarfish, Clown Fish, Japanese Wobbegong, Honeycomb Moray, Porcupinefish, White-spotted Bamboo Shark Corals, and many more. The Centre of Attraction is a Shark tank that allows visitors a diver’s eye view. The Wild Reef also features a saltwater tank display area where corals are grown and propagated for conservation purposes.

Stingray Touch

Have you ever wondered how is it to touch a Stingray? How is the skin of Stingray? Is it smooth like butter or rough like sand? Well, now you have the chance. Yes, Stingray Touch allows the guest to interact with the Stingrays and learn about how they are taken care of.

 Stingray Touch was opened on May 17, 2013, this exhibits gives an unforgettable experience as it allows guests to touch the Cownose Stingrays & Yellow Spotted Rays when they are swimming in the 20,000 gallons exhibit. This is only open seasonally from May to October.


The Shedd Aquarium opened the Oceanarium in the year 1991, and since then it was called Abbott Oceanarium till the year 2010. It holds 3000000 gallons of water in total. Oceanarium allows underwater viewing of Beluga Whales and Dolphins. The Oceanarium is considered the largest indoor marine mammal facility in the world. It has the largest single tank which holds about 2000000 gallons of water. This tank is named as Whale Harbour.

Oceanarium features animals like Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Beluga Whales, Sea Otters & California Sea Lions. It also features an interactive play zone called Polar Play Zone. It is an area where children can play with Magellanic & Rockhopper penguins.

Oceanarium is one of the biggest exhibits and is an exhibit that one can’t afford to miss.


Fantasea started from 16th October 2009 through 2010. Fantasea was launched as a multi-animal show which features Sea Lions, Beluga Whales, Penguins, Hawks, and Dolphins. Later on, it was replaced by One World.

One World

One World exhibit was launched in the year 2013 replacing the famous Fantasea. The show features belugas, sea lions, dolphins, a hawk, and dogs.

4D Theater

Shedd Aquarium Chicago

The 4D theatre was opened in the year 2009. It was launched as a part of the renovation of the Abbott Oceanarium. It became very famous in the public just after its launch. The 4D experience includes 3D film along with interactive seats with high tech audio system and real-life elements like bubbles, scents, and wind.

Some of the Films shown are SpongeBob SquarePants, Planet Earth, Dora the Explorer Ice Age, Rudolph, Coastal Predators, Sea monsters and The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Illinois Resident Free Days

Yes, you heard it right. There are some days on which entry to Shedd Aquarium is free. If you are an Illinois resident then on selected days your entry is free. You need to show your valid resident ID. You can reserve your tickets online if you wish to avail of the benefit. There are some tips and tricks which will help you with your reservation.

  • Shedd Aquarium is usually crowded on weekends. So It’s better to visit it during a weekday. You’ll have the best view of your favorite creature as well.
  • As it’s free, no one wants to miss the opportunity to book the tickets, but the capacity is limited. We recommend you to reserve tickets in advance to avoid sell-outs and you might lose a chance of visiting the beautiful aquarium.
  • The 4-D Experience admission is a $4.95 upgrade for every customer. If you reserve a ticket online a $3-per-order transaction fee is charged.

There are some specific days on which this offer is valid i.e. 

December 4, 2019

January 16-20, 2020

February 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 

June 15, 16, 22, 23, 2020

Note: These days are decided by the Aquarium itself and may change every year. The list mentioned is only valid for the year 2020.


The entry ticket for an Adult Chicago resident is $19.95 and $39.95 for non-residents. The entry ticket for Chicago resident children is $14.95 and non- resident children are $29.95. The children between the ages of 3-11 are considered for the children’s ticket. This ticket gives them access to every exhibit except the aquarium’s 4-D theater, entry to which one has to pay an extra $4.95.

The Aquarium is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. If you want to cover the whole Aquarium it takes around 3-6 hours depending on your interests. There are people who spend 15 mins in a section and there are people who spend nearly 45 mins in a section it really depends on your individual interest.


The museum is a must-have experience. You need to witness the divine beauty of nature incorporated in these exhibits. People love to visit along with their family as it’s a magnificent experience. Some might think to visit an Aquarium and paying nearly 40$ for it is a mere waste of money, but this is completely subjective. The best time to visit Shedd Aquarium is in midsummers where most of the exhibits are open for the general public. 

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