Shedd Shows Off New Oceanarium

Overhauled exhibit reopens

By Zach Christman
|  Monday, May 25, 2009  |  Updated 12:13 PM CDT
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The Shedd Aquarium gave a sneak peek at the

Nancy Yanagidate

The Shedd Aquarium gave a sneak peek at the "re-imagined" Oceanarium today. Thed aquarium has been under renovation for nearly a year.

The marine mammals are back at the Shedd Aquarium's new oceanarium, and things are going swimmingly.

It's been almost nine months since the exhibit closed, the animals were shipped to new locations and the overhaul began.

The animals were brought back to the newly completed oceanarium on Thursday, and the Shedd staff couldn't be happier.

The oceanarium reopens Saturday.  If the crowds at last weekend's Modern Wing opening at the Art Institute are anything to judge by, it's going to be insanely crowded at the Shedd. 

If you want to wait, the next community discount week at the Shedd is June 14-19, when general admission is free -- but you will still have to pay a discounted rate for special exhibits like the Wild Reef.

Going on a regular admission day might not cut the crowds much, but you can still save a few bucks.  Residents of Chicago proper receive a 25 percent discount on admission -- you just have to flash your ID.  New this year, students from middle school through college with a valid ID will get a discount.  And there are more ticket discounts available for military, firefighters and other groups. 

Polar Play Zone

The rehab cost about $50 million -- and a lot  came with that hefty tab, according to the TOC blog. Besides fixing a leaking pool and control systems, they rehabbed the dolphin show to include overhead lighting and video projections.  You can get closer than ever to the beluga whales and check out sea lions in their new habitat.  There's now a kid-friendly spot called the Polar Play Zone, where tots can wear a penguin costume, explore a virtual Artic in a kid-sized submarine, and touch real sea stars.

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