Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014
CONCORD — Merlin Entertainments will open the new aquarium attraction Feb. 20 at Concord Mills.
Specifically designed to educate and engage kids and the young at heart, the 36,000-square-foot aquarium will bring visitors face-to-face with the underwater world.
More than 20 displays will feature 5,000 creatures, including sharks, stingrays, an octopus, seahorses, jellyfish and thousands of colorful fish. Visit the top creature list at www.visitsealife.com/charlotte-concord/explore-our-creatures/ .
The grand opening festivities for the public as well as regional and state tourism officials begin at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 20 with a ribbon cutting, welcome speeches, the unveiling of the custom mural painted by area children and a celebration of Merlin’s 100th attraction. Doors to the aquarium open to the public at noon.
The attraction was built by Rodgers Builders of Charlotte. Sea Life Charlotte-Concord plans to hire approximately 40 new team members at a job fair this weekend at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord.
Visitors to Sea Life Charlotte-Concord can expect:
• A 180-degree ocean tunnel that allows visitors to see sharks, rays and other fish swim right over their heads;
• An interactive touch pool (touch a crab without fear of pinching);
• Seahorses in the mangrove (learn which parent carries the babies);
• The highly intelligent giant Pacific octopus, the largest octopus species in the world;
• Educational talks and creature feedings throughout the day;
• A kids’ quiz trail to keep kids engaged and learning throughout the attraction;
• A presentation video theatre to learn more about marine conservation;
• A children’s soft play area to enjoy at the end of the experience.
At Sea Life Charlotte-Concord, visitors will travel from the fresh waters of the Catawba River in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the salt waters of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond in about an hour.
Regular admission tickets cost $21 for adults and $17 for kids ages 12 and under. Kids ages 2 and under are free. Through Feb. 19, tickets are $16 for all ages if purchased in advance at www.visitsealife.com/charlotte-concord/buy-tickets/.
Annual passes, offering unlimited entry to the aquarium for 12 months, are also on sale for special rates through Feb. 19. An individual annual pass is $50. The family annual pass for four is $192; additional family members are $45 each. Annual pass holders are invited to attend a sneak peek of the aquarium Feb. 15-16.
Hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Park on the backside of the mall at entrance 7.