A Journey Through OdySea
Writer Grace Hill
Fall in love with ocean life at Scottsdale’s newest attraction, the OdySea Aquarium. This marine-life adventure destination opened on September 3 and holds the title of the largest aquarium in the Southwest. Located next to Butterfly Wonderland in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the two-level, 200,000-square-foot facility wows even the most unimpressionable person.
The Aqua Lobby starts the experience in an unforgettable way. Guests eyes immediately capture an array of brightly colored fish swimming in large glass spheres that hang from the ceiling. And if that does not surprise guests, the shark tank visible inside the bathroom should do the trick!
After the lobby, a journey begins down the windy paths of the aquarium. With more than 50 exhibits, 30,000 animals and 500 species living at OdySea, a full immersion into the underwater world occurs. An unparalleled adventure such as this requires a few hours to complete in its entirety.
Along the journey, guests encounter sea life of various kinds. The American and Rainforest River exhibits showcase animals like freshwater turtles and true piranhas. The Otter Banks feature adorable Asian small-clawed otters. And the ever-popular South African penguins call Penguin Point home. Guests then travel to Stingray Bay to touch the cownose rays and bamboo sharks. Those hesitant for such an up-close encounter might start at the Tide Touch Pool. With more than 37 feet, this touch pool boasts many small creatures, including sea cucumbers, sea stars, hermit crabs and sea snails.
The Deep Ocean Escalator then plunges guests into a tunnel, where eagle rays, whitetip reef sharks and rescued sea turtles swim all around them. From there, guests’ eyes enlarge as they come across the magnificent Sharks of the Deep exhibit — a feature that holds more than 200,000 gallons of water and more than eight different species of sharks, including California leopard sharks, scalloped hammerheads, blacknose sharks and bonnethead sharks.
While many familiar animals call the aquarium home, guests also find bizarre sea creatures like the moray eel and the nautilus. Beyond the bizarre, the Jewels of the Caribbean exhibit features clown fish, banded butterflyfish, sea horses and giant jawfish. Guests then move to the Great Barrier Reef attraction where all sorts of sea life live, including angelfish, harlequin tuskfish, foxface and a variety of red-breasted Maori wrasse fish.
In addition, the Living Sea Carousel, a one-of-a-kind feature of OdySea, whisks guests away through a living sea adventure. The aquarium also has a 3-D theater that provides guests with an in-depth discovery of “Underwater Giants,” an exclusive OdySea film. Lastly, the SeaTREK experience allows participants 9 years and older to suit up and go underwater surrounded by thousands of colorful and curious sea creatures from the Indo-Pacific region of the world.
Guests feeling a little fatigued or famished by the excitement of the day’s journey can refresh themselves at the Lighthouse Cafe, a 28-foot authentic lighthouse. The menu offers delicious items like the artisan brick-oven pizza and gourmet burgers, as well as a nice selection of beer and wine. Once guests have finished the day’s journey through the underwater world, the final stop should be at the OdySea Treasures Gift Shop to purchase a keepsake item of the day.
The OdySea Aquarium showcases the amazing world of the ocean in the most beautiful and spectacular way. Don’t miss out on this experience. Take a trip there today!