The day started out as any other Saturday. I woke up around 8am, fell back asleep and woke up again just before 11am. It was that last part that threw off my whole day because I was hoping to get to the Aquarium before it got too crowded. I knew it wasn’t going to work, but I threw on my Aquarium T-shirt and headed out leaving my rain gear on the chair (it was only a 30% chance of rain through 3pm).
I arrived at 12:15pm, more than enough time to browse the 5 tables they had set up for their Earth Day celebration. However, as I predicted, it was a mob scene with the line for tickets far exceeded their queue area.
I strongly considered backing out of line and finding some other place to spend my afternoon, but I didn’t feel like tempting the weather. Besides, it’s not like I had a primer of events in front of me (which is a shame, because I missed out on at least 3 different festivals going on throughout the city that day).
I got up to the front of the line, and ordered my tickets. The woman behind the counter asked if I worked here, and I told her if I did “I wouldn’t need to BUY tickets.” The tickets I bought were stamped “3:15” – unfortunately, it was 12:45. This was going to be a longer afternoon than I thought. *sigh*
I briefly considered going down to the Science Center for their Earth Day party, but didn’t feel like paying the additional $20 entrance fee to attend it. Instead, I just picked up a surprisingly quick lunch (only 30 minutes) and dessert (7 minutes) in Harbor Place before taking the “skyway” over Pratt St to The Gallery. It had started to drizzle, and my rain gear was… back in my apartment.
If I bothered to pick up a newspaper at The Newsstand in Harbor Place , I would have found out about all sorts of other events within walking distance… but I was already married to the Aquarium.
I returned sometime before 3pm, but still had to wait (what seemed like an eternity) for them to call my ticket. Once again, the line exceeded the limited queue area and it didn’t get much better once I was inside.
I knew I should have gone to the zoo… except that, oh yeah, I did.
The first thing they did when you entered was shuttle off to some “souvenir photo” area, where they make you pay $25 for a photo I really don’t want taken, but had to get anyway because it’s the ONLY way into the attraction (insurance in case you don’t buy anything in the cafés\gift shop). Sorry, but I already paid once for admission.
I head up the escalator to the main concourse. The dolphin show doesn’t begin until 5pm so I decide to take a trip through Pier 3 (the main exhibit area of the aquarium). I thought the lines outside were bad. I was wrong. This was an absolute madhouse. I’m sure there some fish thrown in there, but it was pretty much wall to wall people for as far as the eye could see. Some areas (like the “Uplands Tropical Rainforest”) were almost impassable, and people who insisted on going through in the aquarium in the wrong direction weren’t helping matters.
Because of my T-shirt, I had a few people ask me for directions to various exhibits. I’d help them if I could, but I told them it was just a shirt was from the gift shop (different color\design from what actual staff wear) leading to some interesting reactions.
“Oh I’m sorr-“ he began, stopped himself, and turned to be angrily. “YOU’re the one wearing a shirt like THAT, what the HELL am I supposed to think?!”
Oh, I see, because YOUR misunderstanding is MY fault so you get to be as big of an asshole as you want and I can’t do about it. You gotta love tourist logic.
I eventually came out of the “Wings on the Water” section into the main concourse, and looked at my watch: 4:18pm – 42 minutes until the dolphin show began. I could walk through the Australia exhibit, but I really didn’t feel like it.
This left me with a few choices: a) I could go browse around the gift shop, b) I could take my chances with “Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance” (last time I was in there, the already claustrophobically small space was so packed I could barely breath, and today looked to be another one of those days) or c) I could cross the bridge over to Pier 4 and find something to snack on in the cafeteria while I waited for the show to open.
They say if you don’t know the answer on a multiple choice test – always choose “c.” I did – just as the 3:45 dolphin show was getting out so I had to fight against the people coming out of the show in order to get across the bridge. Once again: the theme for today is timing.
I finally escape the exodus and stop for a moment to catch my breath when a man shoves my shoulder and DEMANDS in a thick foreign accent that I tell him… something. Frankly, I have no idea what he wanted (and I’m pissed because shoved me) so I just direct him back to the “Information Desk” in the main concourse.
According to the map, the area I was standing in was called the “Children’s Discovery Gallery.” Though after a little looking around, I’m still not sure what they were supposed to be “discovering.” Some mysteries are better left unsolved, besides I was thirsty and headed downstairs to the atrium.
I grabbed a “Citrus Artic Blast Mountain Dew” from one of the refrigerators and head over to the cashier with my $4 in hand. She looks at my shirt and takes half the price off. Maybe this wearing this shirt wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
I finished my soda and used the restroom. I looked at my watch: I still had about 20 minutes until my show started. I took a slow walk up the atrium steps and meandered around the small Dolphin shop until they started letting people into the amphitheater.
I wasn’t sure where to sit so I took a seat in the middle of the middle row of the center section, but then moved to the back row of the same section when a large family asked if they could have my seat. I should have stayed up from because I ended up sitting next to a harried mother and her 3 year old son who was in the middle of a kick\flail fest (thankfully, he wasn’t screaming too).
The show itself wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t terribly exciting either. It just was. Some things just aren’t negative.
I was in the back row so I left through the service stairs, but with the number of people crammed into them it was more of a logjam. Fortunately, it was only about 2 stories down to the exit. I crossed the bridge back to the main concourse, made my way past the gift shop and photo pick-up area and exited out into the waiting rain storm.