The Florida Aquarium opened today after nearly two months, welcoming a smaller crowd of guests with a smaller staff of masked employees, with a message: “Welcome back, the animals missed you.”
Reopening the aquarium is one of the first large attractions in the Sunshine State as the ‘Safer-at-home’ ordered ended and phase one of opening business began with limited capacity and a list of safety guidelines.
The Mother’s Day Event was two tickets for $45: “Looking for the perfect gift for Mom? Surprise Mom with two tickets to The Florida Aquarium and give Mom the ultimate bouquet filled with more than 9,000 mesmerizing sea creatures. As an added bonus, you will also receive 20% discount code to use for a delicious meal from American Social. We are not open for Mother’s Day this year, but Mom should not have to miss out on a special day at the Aquarium. Buy tickets now and visit us later. Choose a special day between Monday, June 1st and Sunday, June 14th and a time where you can bring Mom and explore the many wonders here from the Wetlands to the Coral Reef Gallery. “
Attendees reserved tickets online in advance, signing up for specific time slots 30 minutes apart with limits on group size. Crowds were limited and social distancing was practiced throughout the space as one-way routes snaked through the exhibits.
Reports stated that the sellout crowd of 1,100 was broken into groups of 130 per hour between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. This capacity is at 25%.
The normal occupancy for Mother’s Day weekend is reportedly between 3,500 to 4,000 people daily. The summer traffic rises to 4,000 to 5,000 people daily.
The aquarium will now be to City of Tampa first responders and their families Tuesday through Thursday. Beginning on Friday, May 15, the aquarium will be open to the public, with similar capacity and reservation restrictions.
Some attractions and exhibits will stay closed, including the outdoor plaza and splash pad and areas that allowed for close physical contact with the animals, like the stingray touch pool, which will be for viewing purposes only.
Temperature checks and masks are required for all aquarium staff.
Guests are not required to wear masks but the practice is strongly encouraged.