The virtual world of jellyfish, sea otters, sharks and penguins streaming from the Monterey Bay Aquarium through the pandemic is about to once again be accessible in real life after the first-ever closure since opening in 1984.
The Aquarium is opening to members and donors after the four-month closure beginning Thursday, July 9, followed by reopening to the public on Monday, July 13. Online-only ticket sales begin on Wednesday, July 1, on the Aquarium’s website. No tickets will be sold if people show up without them.
New changes and procedures will greet guests to the building on Cannery Row that were designed to minimize the spread of the virus and meet the approval by the Monterey County Health Department.
Some of the protocols include: a timed entry for ticket holders; answering a public health statement before entering; a limited number of visitors inside the building; facial coverings required of all guests, staff and volunteers ages three and up; social distancing practices followed at all times; one-way routes through exhibits. Aquarium staff will conduct frequent cleaning throughout the building, especially high-touch areas.
Some areas that do not allow for physical distancing will be closed, including the auditorium, children’s play areas, the dine-in restaurant and some interpretive stations. Limited food and beverage will be available to guests via online ordering during their visit. Dining areas will be reconfigured to maintain physical distancing.
Members may reserve time slots on the members page of the Aquarium’s website. Once it opens to the public, the Aquarium will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with entry time slots available every half hour until 3:30 p.m. At the start the 10 a.m. time slot will be for members only, with public tickets available starting at 10:30 a.m.
“We’ve missed welcoming our visitors to the Aquarium and have been looking forward to this day,” said Executive Director Julie Packard in a press release. “Social media and our online experiences have allowed us to stay connected with people virtually, but there is no substitute for connecting with favorite exhibits and animals in real life. People can expect an outstanding experience that puts the well-being of our guests, staff and volunteers front and center.”
For more information, see the Aquarium's website.