The second stop on my Houston CityPass day was the Downtown Aquarium – a leisure facility operated by Landry’s Inc. consisting of a small amusement park, restaurants and an aquarium. The Downtown Aquarium is a direct offshoot of the restaurant chain Aquarium, offering an exhibition reminiscent of a Sea Life Centre. This exhibition is included in the CityPass, a wristband for the rides is available separately.
Opened in 2003, the Downtown Aquarium is located on the grounds of Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building and makes clever use of them. The upper floor of the former fire station houses the Aquarium Restaurant, the Bar Dive Lounge and the Ballroom Nautilus, while the lower floor houses an interactive touch basin and the actual exhibition. This is – very similar to the large aquariums of the English competitor – quite rapidly passed through, while offering a very high-quality and excellent presentation. Families with smaller children will certainly be able to spend a longer time in this aquarium. The only point of criticism are the white tigers which can be found in an aquarium rather untypically and which were held here without access to sunlight (since the end of this year there is an outside enclosure).
Outside, in addition to the colorful Aquatic Carousel carousel, the two children’s free-fall towers Lighthouse Dive and Frog Hopper, and the Ferris wheel Diving Bell – which is a great eye-catcher (especially at night) for those just coming in from the north on Interstate 45 to Houston – is the Shark Voyage, Chance Rides’ first fully electric park train. Since 2018, it has been making its rounds. The ride itself is much older, but that doesn’t make it any less special. The real highlight of the park railway is its route through the Waterworks Building, which has an underwater tunnel in a huge shark tank. Here, the train stops for a few minutes, so that one can watch the sharks to the right, to the left and above oneself. The C.P. Huntington train therefore features a panoramic roof.
The ride on the park train Shark Voyage is the reason why I went to the Downtown Aquarium Houston at all. I think the idea is great, but I think it is a pity that the trip is not included in the visit to the exhibition; after all, it is the highlight of the establishment. In general, I really liked the offer of the Downtown Aquarium, so that a visit is not only recommended to aquarists with small children.
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