I Have Returned, and Some Shots From the Georgia Aquarium

I’ve been in Massachusetts for a few days now. I started this as an easy way to keep anyone interested at home abreast of what I was up to in Florida without all the nonsense social networking sites have cluttered themselves with. I suppose I’ll keep it running as long as I have something semi-interesting to share.

My primary purpose for stopping in Atlanta was to visit the Georgia Aquarium, which was built by the founder of The Home Depot as a gift to the city of Atlanta. His philanthropy was inspired by a visit to the Monteray Bay Aquarium in California. I highly recommend the experience if any of you plan on visiting the Atlanta area.

Inevitably I found myself comparing the Georgia Aquarium to SeaWorld Orlando, photos and thoughts on the latter you may find in earlier entries. The two attractions are fundamentally different, and it is difficult to judge one ultimately superior to the other. However, I can offer:

-General admission to the Georgia Aquarium is significantly less than it is to SeaWorld Orlando ($26 v. $74)

-Parking for both facilities is roughly $10. Both allow you to purchase tickets online and print them out at home; the Georgia Aquarium allows you to also pay for parking when you purchase your ticket, which I thought was nice to save a few seconds and some hassle; SeaWorld I believe was cash or credit at the gate.

– The Georgia Aquarium is entirely indoors, and parking is in an attached garage. SeaWorld is indoor/outdoor, and can be unpleasant if it is raining. Parking is in a large outdoor lot.

– While billing itself as the “largest aquarium in the US and the world”, the Georgia Aquarium covers less ground than SeaWorld, and it is much faster to see the exhibits- SeaWorld is very spread out. However, the largest tank viewable to the public belongs to the Georgia Aquarium. I would imagine the total Orca habitat of SeaWorld is comparable to this tank, but it is not visible unless you buy a different ticket package.

– SeaWorld Orlando offers rides; the Georgia Aquarium does not.

– SeaWorld offers more dining and shopping options. However, I liked the food at the Georgia Aquarium better at the lower price point (~$9 for each place).

– Both feature Beluga Whales; they were much easier to see at SeaWorld.

– SeaWorld features Orcas and Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. The Georgia Aquarium counters with four Whale Sharks (the largest known fish) and two Manta Rays.

– SeaWorld operates a rescue and rehabilitation program for Manatees, who are observable to the public. I am under the impression that the Georgia Aquarium is solely educational, and this is perhaps due to Atlanta’s location.

– Both facilities feature an underwater observational tunnel; SeaWorld’s is conveyor-driven with a few inches of step-off space on either side, which annoyed me. The Georgia Aquarium allows the option to ride a moving conveyor or to walk through the tunnel at your own pace, which I preferred.

Without further delay, here is the surrounding cityscape and entryway to the Georgia Aquarium.

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