Skip to Content

Atlantic City Aquarium to Return to its Glory Days

When my boys were younger, one of my favorite things to do in Atlantic City was not to spend a day in a casino. I would much rather drive around showing them all the things to do with kids in Atlantic City. In fact, you can only see casinos from across the bay when you spend a day in the beautiful Gardner’s Basin. My favorite part of Gardner’s Basin has always been the Atlantic City Aquarium.

I loved taking my boys to the Atlantic City Aquarium. We would pet the starfish in the downstairs touch tank and feed the stingrays upstairs. We’d marvel at the octopus downstairs and color in the kids’ section upstairs. We’d watch giant tortoises walk the ground floor and imagine ourselves wearing the scuba gear on the top floor. We would walk the outside widow’s walk to view the water and ships coming in. Whether it was for a day trip close to home or a friend’s birthday party we were at the Atlantic City Aquarium.

Dive into a good time in Atlantic City @Jersey Family Fun

I was so disappointed when it had to close and heartbreak set in when it felt like I might never see it reopen. So you can imagine my joy when I learned the AC Aquarium will reopen. Yes! The Atlantic City Aquarium will reopen on July 1, 2024.

There are not a lot of details about the reopening of this South Jersey aquarium in Atlantic City, but I will share what we know and what Mayor Marty Small, Sr shared during his Friday, February 2, 2024 State of Atlantic City address during the Atlantic City Metropolitan Business and Citizens Association (MBCA) Foundation luncheon.

Atlantic City Aquarium sign as pictured on February 2, 2024

What we know about changes to the Atlantic City Aquarium in Atlantic City

When did the AC Aquarium close?

The Atlantic City Aquarium closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why did the aquarium close?

Before it closed its doors for renovations, the Atlantic City Aquarium successfully secured grant funding to make much-needed improvements and enhancements. This exciting development means that families like ours can look forward to exploring a newly refreshed and upgraded aquarium with our children this summer and in the years ahead.

Why didn’t it reopen when the pandemic was over?

As we all faced an ever-changing situation brought on by the pandemic, the journey to bring the Atlantic City Aquarium back to life was no exception. The process, much like guiding a ship through uncharted waters, encountered its fair share of delays.

It should have been a straightforward renovation. However, once construction was underway, it was as if developers had dived deeper than expected, uncovering more extensive damage and necessary repairs than they had prepared for.

Compounded by the pandemic’s far-reaching effects on supply chains, these discoveries led to unexpected delays in the renovation timeline. Despite these challenges, anticipation for reopening and sharing the revamped aquarium with local families has only grown stronger, reminding us all that good things indeed come to those who wait.

When will the Atlantic City Aquarium reopen?

The Atlantic City Aquarium will reopen on July 1, 2024.

What has changed at the Aquarium? What work has been done?

Since closing its doors in 2020, the Atlantic City Aquarium has undergone a sea of changes inside, transforming it into a treasure chest of new experiences for families to explore.

The renovation has been thorough, from the top where new roofing, windows, and flooring have been laid throughout, creating a fresh and inviting environment. The top-level lookout now boasts new decking and a ceiling, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding waters at Gardner’s Basin.

The journey through the aquarium will be even more comfortable with completely renovated bathrooms, a new HVAC system for a perfect climate no matter the weather outside, and updated lighting to illuminate the wonders of the aquatic world. I’m sure we’ll see imaginative and vibrant wall murals there once again.

The transformation didn’t stop there; new interior drywall, a splash of paint, and new doors at various locations have revitalized the space. Essential behind-the-scenes updates include ductwork, electrical, and plumbing repairs, ensuring a smooth and seamless experience for every family adventure.

What still needs to happen?

In the spirit of creating a truly enchanting experience for families eager to return, the city recognized that the Atlantic City Aquarium’s transformation shouldn’t stop at the interior. Despite the initial project scope not covering exterior aesthetic improvements, the city understood that a first-class attraction like the Aquarium deserves to shine both inside and out.

To align the outer facade with the beautifully renovated interior, the city was proactive in ensuring that the Aquarium’s reopening would be picture-perfect in every sense. Leveraging funds from the American Rescue Plan, the city secured the necessary resources to give the Aquarium’s exterior the facelift it deserves.

This commitment guarantees that when families come back to explore the wonders of the Atlantic City Aquarium this summer, they will be greeted by a venue that looks as inviting on the outside as it is mesmerizing on the inside.

Rendering of what the Atlantic City Aquarium will look like once exterior renovations are complete
Rendering of what the Atlantic City Aquarium will look like once exterior renovations are complete. Credit City Of Atlantic City Communications.

What about the animals?

We do not know about the status of the more than 100 varieties of animals that lived at the aquarium. This is something we are continuing to investigate.

boys looking at fish tank in AC aquarium 2011

Who owns the AC Aquarium?

The City of Atlantic City owns the Atlantic City Aquarium. It is managed by the Department of Public Works. Gardner’s Basin Management handles everything exhibit-related.

Now that we’ve shared what we know, let’s share how the AC Aquarium was before it closed. I can only imagine that some things will be the same and some things will be much better. After all, the Atlantic City Aquarium is getting completely remodeled. This is a developing story so please bookmark, save it or subscribe to our newsletters so you can stay up to date as new developments are announced.

The outside of the Atlantic City Aquarium with the siding BEFORE the 2024 renovations
The outside of the Atlantic City Aquarium with the siding BEFORE the 2024 renovations. Picture taken February 2, 2024.

About the Atlantic City Aquarium BEFORE 2020

The Atlantic City Aquarium was a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Atlantic City. The aquarium offered 3 floors to explore and was just the right size for little kids to explore. The aquarium had several touch tanks so that kids could get an up-close experience with a variety of sea creatures.

  • 3 Floors to Explore
  • Handicap accessible
  • Elevators and Stairs
  • Restrooms on Each Floor
  • Room on the Second Floor For Birthday Parties
  • Kids Under 3 Free
  • No dining areas

Atlantic City Aquarium’s First Floor

The first floor featured a large tank where you can view a wide variety of marine life. There was a salt marsh area with turtles and a horseshoe crab touch tank. There were several other smaller tanks, two of which feature clown fishes, on every visit we attempted to “find Nemo”.

Atlantic City Aquarium

Atlantic City Aquarium’s Second Floor

The second floor had a sting ray touch tank and an area with lizards, snakes and frogs.

boys in aquatic scene cutout at AC aquarium

Atlantic City Aquarium’s Third Floor

The third floor has a widow’s walk which offers spectacular views of the harbor, Gardner’s Basin, and of course the casinos. My boys loved seeing the harbor from high up and pointing out the boats. Viewing the casinos from afar gives such a nice perspective of the city and reminds me that there is so much more to Atlantic City than just gambling.

a pirate statue and a boy turning a boar steering wheel on the Widows walk at AC aquarium 2011

What could families expect at The Atlantic City Aquarium?

The Atlantic City Aquarium offered daily shows where kids had additional opportunities to get up close with animals. When we visited we got to see a tortoise walk around the room. The tortoise was about the size of a small dog and was about 80 years old which was young for a tortoise.

I love that the aquarium provided a fun, interactive learning experience for kids. Kids can see some of their favorite animals and even get to touch a few of them.

  • Sting Ray Touch Tanks
  • Shark Touch Tanks
  • Large Main Tanks
  • Daily Shows
  • Horseshoe Crab Touch Tanks
  • Sting Ray Feeding Show
  • Exotic Animal Show
  • Live Diver Feeding Show
  • Live Coral Tanks
  • Eel Exhibits
  • Clownfish and Anemone Tank
  • Piranha Tank
  • Diamond Back Terrapin Turtle Tank

The previous Atlantic City Aquarium hours

Previously, the Atlantic City Aquarium was open daily from 10 am – 5 pm. It is not yet clear what their hours will be for this summer.

Atlantic City Aquarium Admission Rates

These are the most recent rates leading up to 2020. Information has not yet been released for 2024 pricing. I hope it stays the affordable aquarium it as always been.

  • Kids 3 and under are free
  • Adult admission is $8
  • Kids 4-12 are $5
  • Seniors age 62 and up are $6.

Gardner’s Basin is the perfect spot for the AC Aquarium

After our visits to the Atlantic City Aquarium, we always stuck around for lunch. Sometimes we’d dine at Back Bay Ale House which offers a great kids menu. Sometimes we’d grab lunch from one of the food trucks and sit at a table nearby. Other times we’d bring a picnic lunch from home and sit in a chair or bench overlooking the water.

Gardner’s Basin has many small shops and restaurants along the bay and is a great place to walk around shop and dine. There is also plenty of room for kids to run around and explore outside the Atlantic City Aquarium.

This summer, as we step back into the Atlantic City Aquarium, it will be like discovering a whole new underwater world, ready to create lasting memories with our little explorers.

This is a developing story so please bookmark, save it or subscribe to our newsletters so you can stay up to date as new developments are announced.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Alert: Content is protected !!