5+ Affordable Ways To Entertain Your Toddler During Your Visit to the Aquarium + VIDEO


Toddlers love aquariums. Preschoolers love aquariums. So do “big kids” and adults. There is so much wonder and amazement to take in that everybody can find something for them. Seeing the Georgia Aquarium through a toddler’s eyes is the best. They help you see things you would totally overlook…even if you’ve been five times! And, yes, we’ve been at least five times and every time, they help us find something new.

5+ Affordable Ways To Entertain Your Toddler During Your Visit to the Aquarium

For days and days after our aquarium trips, our kids tell us “it was the best day ever.” And, really, it’s probably months now, too. And, if your kids are anything like ours, they will tell you the same thing when you bring them to the Georgia Aquarium. Of course, it can get expensive, but there are so many ways to entertain your kids while you are there, and hopefully, save some money, too. 

5+ Affordable Ways To Entertain Your Toddler During Your Visit to the Aquarium

1. Everyday aquarium offers included in ticket price

There is so much included in one ticket admission prices to the Georgia Aquarium, that alone makes it feel like you are getting a good deal. You can spend all day there and see everything several times, or spend your time seeing each exhibit at least once. In each area there are educational activities, readings, games and more to engage kids of all ages.

Some of these items include:

  • 4D Unbelievable Theater– Get all of your senses excited when you check out a short movie in the 4D Theater. There will be giggles and maybe even some excited screams. With shows like Coastal Predators: A 4-D Experience from BBC and BBC Earth Ice Age: No Time for Nuts 4-D.
  • Waddle walk– Every day the African penguins along with George (the mascot) come out to play and waddle through the main open area in the aquarium. Kids get to see the penguins up close!

Waddle Walk Georgia Aquarium

{photo credit: Georgia Aquarium}

  • SunTrust Pier 225: The Sea Lion show is a very intimate show with close seating and great views for everybody. The kids love hearing stories about each of the sea lions; where they are from, how they were rescued and what fun tricks they have learned. Plus, they also learn all about the workings of a sea lion and what makes them different from a seal (surprisingly three of my girls immediately knew the differences). Check out the sneak peak and more of our pictures from Pier 225.

Sea Lion Georgia Aquarium

  • AT&T Dolphin Celebration was revamped last year and is a great show featuring many dolphins and their trainers. There are jumps, water shows, music and it’s highly entertaining. Our three year old couldn’t contain herself she was so excited. Check out the sneak peak and more of our pictures from Dolphin Celebration.

The four major aquarium areas offer so many little peaks into small ecosystems and large ones that your child will be asking questions for days after your trip.

  • Ocean Voyager has the BIG fish like giant grouper, and also huge Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.
  • Cold Water Quest is where the Beluga Whales and sea otters are among other things.
  • Tropical Diver features a huge living coral reef that is so bright and has 
  • River Scout is where you will find a tunnel your kids will want to crawl into as well as small clawed otters and cichlids to name a few.

If your child likes to be able to touch sea critters, there are several touch pools around the aquarium. Be prepared to supervise their two finger touches and make note of when the animals are on breaks. There is always a hand washing station nearby.

Pro tip: Always look for the volunteers or aquarium employees at each exhibit. They are always available for answering questions, from the littlest of kids to the biggest (check out our video below where we asked a few experts about penguins and the coral reef.

If you have fun on your visit, before you leave, you can upgrade your ticket and make it a Georgia Aquarium membership. As long as you come back one more time in the year, it pays for itself in just two visits!

2. Seasonal offerings / deals

Throughout the seasons and during special times, the Georgia Aquarium has various exclusive offers and deals that will help you save money and keep your kids entertained during your visit.   

Every year, Georgia Aquarium’s Winter Fest offers a seasonal collection of limited-time experiences and several ways to save on a visit.

  • Seasonal Savings 20 percent off general admission tickets when purchased in advance online.
  • Coral Carnival: Carnival-inspired interactive and educational coral activities
  • Friday Nights at Georgia Aquarium: every Friday night from 5-8 p.m., enjoy live music and specialty cocktails. Entrance to the event is included in general admission. (This might be a fun way to leave the kids with a sitter, but I like to share the good deals!)

 Because the crowds are usually lighter, kids can see more of the aquarium without wadding through people and might get a better change for a front row view of the daily waddle walk. 

3. Me & Mommy

Mommy and Me at the Georgia Aquarium

Mommy and Me is a steal at the Aquarium. For only $44.95 plus tax, you will receive an adult General Admission ticket and up to 4 children’s General Admission tickets (ages 5 and under). Available Monday-Thursday through May 25. This is a great way to bring in your preschoolers and toddlers while their bigger siblings are at school for the day. It’s also a more affordable option for a playdate.

4. Toddler Time 

Toddler Time, intended for children ages 0-3, is a 1 ½ hour educational adventure where parents and toddlers learn about and meet an approachable animal. It is held in Oceans Ballroom and takes place the first Monday of the month from 10:00-11:30.

There is a separate charge to attend but general admission ticket purchase is not required, so you could just come for the 1.5 hour educational experience, enjoy the Oceans Ballroom (that’s an experience in itself) and then be on your way. Each adult and child must have a ticket with it costing $16 ($8 per person) for members or $20 ($10 per person) for non-members. Make sure you purchase your tickets ahead of time as advance registration is required.

5. Imagination Nights

Come to the Aquarium during the late afternoon (after 4:00pm) and you will receive 36% off your ticket price and get to do everything the aquarium has to offer and has scheduled. This is a great time to come with your early napper to have a fun time together. These tickets must also be purchased online or over the phone as you can’t purchase them as walk-up tickets.

6. Behind the Scenes

So, since you’ve likely saved some money by coming on the right days or the right times, or you just want to check it out, you can do this fun thing, too.

We were previously invited to the Georgia Aquarium to see what all was going on for Spring Break and for a little behind the scenes action known as their “behind the seas” tour. I don’t know why, but behind the scenes makes me feel like I know all of the secrets (even though, they aren’t hiding anything) and makes me appreciate everything going on even more. 

Behind the scenes we got to check out the giant tank with the reef and colorful fish (aka Tropical Diver). This giant wall of water goes every 2 minutes or so and generates a huge wave below. We didn’t expect it at all and everybody sort of jumped back as it happened.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

Off to the back there were other fish hanging out in the shallower water, just asking for their pictures to be taken. With three girls talking, our wonderful tour guide had her hands full with the questions. She answered every one of them with a smile!

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

We didn’t get to see the quarantine area (because of possible infections, bacteria and more), but we were able to take a peak into one of the many tanks where they were growing coral. It’s amazing how many different varieties there are.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

There were so many classrooms and educational rooms set up with different learning experiences. There were teeny-tiny shrimp, jellyfish, starfish and more. All for the learning labs.

Our next stop was Ocean Voyager where the amazing Whale Sharks and Manta Rays live. They seem huge looking through the glass of the aquarium, but oh goodness, when they get that close to you? They are amazing and breath-taking. We stood behind a glass barricade (thank goodness, or else I would have worried somebody might have decided to go for a swim. Not that this is a bad thing. People go diving into the Ocean Voyager. There were people going in while we were there).

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

That’s a whale shark (not really a whale, actually a shark) that eats plankton, not little people. They are so amazingly large and majestic. Just wow. The Manta Ray hung by close to the whale shark but kept eluding my camera. Something fascinating we learned? They have no idea how whale sharks reproduce. And, they have only recently ever seen a smaller (as in not full-size) whale shark. They are a bit of a puzzling creature for sure.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

Just in case you didn’t believe me. That outside painting? That’s the size of the manta ray, which was dwarfed in comparison by the whale shark.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

Every sort of water creature you can imagine lives at the aquarium. At least at some point. This tank was full of the most colorful and beautiful frogs. Which turns out, are only poisonous if they eat poisonous plants, which these didn’t have access to.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

They do so much rescue and rehab at the aquarium, too. And, learning. I loved seeing the bottom of this starfish with his little suckers all extended.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

And a place for the kids to learn about symbiosis. (That’s Roz on the right. She was our volunteer tour guide. So fabulous!)

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

These guys had to be in a picture. I put my hand there for scale. Giant starfish. See that mussel shell? Yep, they eat those. And, they appear to be quite lazy too. They just lay there. In a pile on top of each other. Lazy, lazy starfish. I guess when you project your stomach outside of your body to eat you need to take a long break?

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

My favorite part of the aquarium is visiting the beluga whales. So it was super cool to be able to see them behind the scenes. We weren’t able to go into the room with them, but were pretty close. And, they came up to the surface quite a bit.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

This is an aquarium operating room. It looks a lot like a human operating room. However, a lot of their equipment is on wheels so they can bring it to the animals.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

We also saw the laboratory facilities, and my heart jumped a little seeing the Analytical Chemistry section (that’s what my Master’s Degree is in!). They had spaces set up for water quality testing and so much more.

Our last stop was to check on the baby penguins. They weren’t as tiny as I was expecting, but still pretty cute. Turns out these little guys weren’t interested in swimming just yet. I guess they needed some swimming lessons.

Mommy and Me Monday at the Aquarium

The cost for Behind the Scenes Tours:

The Georgia Aquarium has recently made “behind the seas” tours much more affordable. You will need to purchase your admission ticket, but once you do, the tour is an additional $15 per person (or $12.50 if you are an Aquarium pass holder). The tours don’t exceed 18 people and it is totally worth it.

Leaving the kids at home?

Sips Under the Sea, are themed, adults-only Friday-night celebrations. This year’s Sips series includes: St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 Cinco de Mayo, May 5 Glow in the Dark Party, Aug. 4 Pajama Jam, Sept. 22 New Year’s Eve Black and White Party, Dec. 31

Pre-pay your parking and food experience before you go and save another 10%. When my kids are hungry they need food now, and even if we haven’t planned on eating at the aquarium, we do. Grab a voucher when you buy your tickets and save some money. Pre-paying for your parking makes it easier getting in and getting out of the Aquarium, too, so add that to your transaction as well. 

Check out our interviews with Aquarium experts and see what they have to say about penguins and the coral reef:

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  1. Pat Chance says:

    great video – you are very fortunate to have such a great aquarium with informative staff in Atlanta

  2. Nicole Heffernan says:

    Aquariums are the best. I am finding more and more zoos have really nice aquariums as well!

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