NORWALK, CT – An immersive new 4D Theater and an enormous new seal habitat will highlight rediscoveries of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk this summer, especially for families taking advantage of the “CT Summer at the Museum - Free Admission for Kids” offer.
The Maritime Aquarium is among the nearly 100 institutions participating in the state’s “CT Summer at the Museum" admission program, which offers free entry for all Connecticut residents 18 and under, along with one accompanying adult in each group.
“After the tumultuous 16 months we just experienced, the Governor has created an amazing opportunity to encourage all children in the state to make up for lost time and visit the state’s best attractions this summer,” said Jason Patlis, president and CEO of The Maritime Aquarium. “With price no longer a barrier, this initiative opens up the aquarium to anyone who’s a Connecticut resident,” Patlis said. “We’re particularly excited to invite families who might not otherwise visit us.”
Through the admission deal, one adult with any number of kids = all free. Two kids with two adults = one paid adult admission ($28.95) while receiving three free tickets valued at $68.85.
The offer is open only to Connecticut residents. Guests planning to take advantage of the offer are strongly encouraged to make their reservations in advance online at www.maritimeaquarium.org. Proof of residency will be required at the door.
The program for free admissions was proposed by Gov. Lamont, and approved by the General Assembly, as a way to allocate a portion of the federal COVID-19 recovery funding that Connecticut is receiving from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“This program provides a unique opportunity for children to take advantage of the world-class museums and attractions offered in Connecticut, while having both a fun and educational experience,” Governor Lamont said. “Museums are centers of exploration, recreation, and learning, and will play an important role in helping provide social-emotional, mental health, and educational growth opportunities that were limited during the pandemic. It is my hope that families take advantage of this unique opportunity happening in Connecticut this summer.”
Anyone who hasn’t visited The Maritime Aquarium since the pandemic started will discover significant transformations. In January, the Aquarium debuted a 4D Theater to replace its IMAX Theater. This new cinematic experience sends the action visually spilling off the two-story screen and over audiences in 3D, in addition to such thrill-enhancing sensory special effects as bubbles, snow, wind, mists, scents and more. The 169-seat theater offers two films every hour: BBC Earth’s “Shark: A 4D Experience” and “Ice Age: No Time for Nuts 4D.”
The opening of the 4D theater also included a new main entrance, with a new Sound Bites café just inside featuring a full selection of hot and cold drinks from Starbucks, as well as pastries from a rotating lineup of local bakeries.
The Maritime Aquarium’s other major change was the June 8 debut of an enormous new seal habitat. At 160,000 gallons, it’s the largest display in The Maritime Aquarium’s 33-year history. Guests can watch from above and below the surface as the seals dive, twirl and bob in the 22-foot-deep exhibit, called “Pinniped Cove.” (The word pinniped means “fin- or flipper-footed” and is the scientific grouping for seals, sea lions and walruses.) The seals’ new home is more than eight times larger than their original exhibit, where they lived from 1988-2019.
Also new this year is a special exhibit called “A Slug’s Life: Facing the Climate Endgame,” a unique exhibit for the Aquarium in that it presents its message through a blending of live animals with sculpture and photography. Stars of the exhibit are a group of mollusks called nudibranchs known for their striking forms, brilliant colors and vulnerability in reef systems. In addition to live nudibranchs and other mollusks, “A Slug’s Life” features nudibranchs depicted in onyx and marble sculptures by Gar Waterman of New Haven, as well as nudibranch photographs by divers from all around the world.
“With COVID vaccinations increasing and cases falling, folks are itching to venture back out this summer, and we’re ready and excited to show off this fantastic seal habitat, the movies in our immersive 4D Theater, and all of the animals and exhibits here,” said Aquarium spokesman Dave Sigworth. “If you haven’t visited The Maritime Aquarium in a while, come see how much we’ve changed. Certainly, the ‘CT Summer at the Museum’ offer serves as an incredible extra incentive.”
Based on guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the state of Connecticut. unvaccinated guests – and all children age 2-11 – must continue to wear masks in The Maritime Aquarium. Vaccinated guests are strongly encouraged to continue to wear their masks too.
Learn more about the Aquarium’s exhibits, programs and public cruises this summer at www.maritimeaquarium.org.