|Address:||93 W Campbell Rd, Schenectady, NY 12306, USA|
|Working:||10AM–9PM 10AM–9PM 10AM–9PM 10AM–9PM 10AM–9PM 10AM–9PM 11AM–6PM|
Extremely decent. If you are expecting something comparable to the New England or Baltimore aquarium you will be disappointed. But for an aquarium stuffed into a failing small-city mall? Extremely decent. I was pleasantly surprised. Pros: 1) A fairly high number of tanks with a good variety of fish. My expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised at the number of tanks and the variety of fish presented, including other aquatic creatures like invertebrates, arthropods, rays, and mollusks. I especially liked the tanks of local Hudson valley fish. That being said it is by most standards a small aquarium. Expect to spend no more than an hour and a half if youre really taking your time (i.e. no impatient children in tow). 2) Very well done decor, lighting, and general ambiance. I would have liked some background audio component here and there (brook sounds, sea birds, waves crashing, that sort of thing), but it was otherwise well done. 3) The two huge "walk-through" tanks were pretty awesome. Nothing like having sharks swim lazily over head :) Cons: 1) About half of the fish are your typical aquarium hobby fish, available in most local aquarium stores, like Davy Jones or Eddies (cichlids, tetras, koi, clown fish, gobies, tangs, etc.). Not necessarily a bad thing, but many were clearly newly acquired juvenile fish, the exact same youd find in a fish store. Im hopeful that with time more mature micro-ecosystems will be represented. The remaining half were much more exotic and welcome, including a few that I had never seen, much to my delight. 2) Some fish, especially early in the tour didnt seem in the best of health. A fair bit of fin-rot visible in some of the early fresh water tanks. The sort of thing I expect may be sorted out with time. 3) Informational material was very limited. Tanks were generally sorted by geographical location, but often with only about half the fish being identified, and no other information about the defining characteristics of those environments given. What information was given was typically displayed on a digital screen (shared by two tanks) which slowly scrolled through bullets of information. 4) The hands-on petting tanks. A nice feature but a lot of space seemed dedicated with few animals (other than koi). The ray tank was quite deep. Rays would swim by hopeful for food, but easily dodge deep to avoid your hand. Small children would have little to no chance of actually touching them. 5) Pricing: The single-day price seemed a bit steep for a relatively short experience. However an annual pass for two adults was roughly the equivalent of two daily passes for two, a much better value. Furthermore you could apply the price of your daily passes towards that annual pass, allowing you to check the place out before committing for a year. An annual pass also removes the guilt of just popping in for a short 30-40 minutes, since youre not trying to squeeze as much value as possible out of your stay. To summarize, I recommend at least checking it out. I spent more time on the cons than pros in this review, but most of those cons were nit-picky things that could very well be corrected with some time (I hope for the supplemental educational material and signage to be expanded). Definitely worth a look, particularly for families with young children. (Note: My wife and I attended on a weekday afternoon, when attendance was sparse. I can see how even a moderate crowd would become a big annoyance, as other reviews have noted. There were several areas where the passage was somewhat narrow or confined.)
Anyone going to this thinking its going to be the Boston Aquarium (or even close) is going to be disappointed. I ended up getting the Annual Passport for a Family of 4. Its $100 - and while I dont plan on visiting a ton, we go to the mall frequently for the bounce house and the Via Entertainment arcade. The Aquarium just adds something to do when we are there. It was actually bigger than I thought it would be. A lot of tanks - some with a lot of fish, some with only a few. Was a nice touch having what locale was being recreated - and the electronic displays of what fish were somewhat helpful. A few tanks had no descriptions whatsoever. I think they should add standard cardboard descriptions along with the electronic displays. It took a while for some of them to scroll through, and some of the displays were very busy. One thing I did notice - and its a lack of attention to detail - they had an antique desk with a tackle box and fishing pole on it - think near the Mohawk Valley display - but a keyboard and mouse was left on it. It kind of broke the illusion. There was only a small line when I went. The printer for the season pass IDs was malfunctioning, so I was at the register a while longer than I shouldve been. They should put some backup units in - I know on the weekends the lines can get really long. With a season pass you dont have to wait in that line - you can just go in and have the card scanned. Too bad they didnt tie it into the cards you can get for VIA Entertainment - would be much more convenient. Im sure when they have online ordering working it will alleviate some of the early hiccups. All in all it was a good experience at the mall. A walk through the Aquarium, a few arcade games, then off to the Fun Bounce. Mall is still barren in places - I think they are on to something though. Really glad I got the season passes - we will be back, and I dont feel like I have to look at every display if some of them are busy - we can just go back next time and catch what we missed. My guess is for people just going once, it may seem a little pricey. For those who want to make this a regular part of the mall trip the annual pass holds a lot more value - and convenience.
sorry to say I was underwhelmed. the exhibits are poorly linked--adirondack marine life juxtaposed with that of costa rica, etc. the signs posted next to each tank are the type that fade and reappear, making it hard to pause in reading them; also not a smart idea for exhibits designed to appeal to young children, who read even more slowly or who might want to discuss with others what the signs say. the display area which features the open tanks is devoid of decoration: gray pools with no inventive touches; the section feels like a gym locker room. petting the stingrays, however, was a delight, and the staff was friendly. the entire aquarium is dimly lit, with poor acoustics and not much to stimulate the senses. overall, I never felt like I had left rotterdam square mall. thankfully, I had a discount coupon, and was with my son, who, despite being 17, still qualified for a childs ticket. these nicely reduced the admission price. if I had gone on a weekend and paid full price for two adult tickets, I would have felt it was money not well spent. I wasnt expecting boston or baltimore, but even for albany, this was a disappointment.