After a false start and a couple of construction delays, the renovation of the Roanoke Island Aquarium–the Outer Banks only aquarium–is almost complete. It’s open now and even though a couple of the exhibits aren’t quite ready yet, what there is a really exciting.
We should stress that the few exhibits that are not open do not detract from the experience—and the experience is marvelous.
Walk in the lobby and overhead there is a giant high definition TV that shows everyone in closeup. The coolest part of the lobby though are the 3D fish that are swimming by the hole time everyone is looking at their image.
The designers did have the good sense to leave the really good stuff alone, so the otters are still there, playing—seemingly—all day long. The Graveyard of the Atlantic tank—285,000 gallons of seawater, hasn’t been changed.
What has changed, though, is how interactive the whole experience is. There are some great mini-movies explaining the local environment and history. Instead of signs telling visitors about the various animals, designers went to a push button system where users decide how much information they want.
There are some great new exhibits as well. The Delicate Drifters Gallery will feature jellyfish surrounded by soothing light and comfortable seating. Parents may appreciate the gallery more than their children, but it will be a nice break from the excitement of the day.
A very tentative date of August 10 has been given as a grand reopening, although Aquarium officials stress that date is somewhat fluid.