“ Sightseeing Type: Aquarium / Address: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino / 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South / Las Vegas, Nevada 89119 „
After arriving in Vegas we were looking to find new things to do. My family and I make a trip out to vegas at least 2 times a year and finding new stuff to do is really becomining quite a chore.
So after an hour of flipping through the books and seeing what we have never done before my daughter and I chose the shark reef. For this visit we were staying at Excalibur and had to catch the tram to Mandalay bay for the shark reef.
We arrived at Mandalay bay and walked into the casino. We were greeted right away and asked if we needed any help finding anything. I asked for directions to the shark reef and was given an escort to the ticket box office.
we bought our tickets they were not that bad. I actually thought that they would be so much more than what they were 35 dollars. We then walked across the great open area and got into line to see the shark reef. As we stood in the line waiting my daughter read the book that they gave to her and was amazed to learn that Mandalay bay has the only hammerhead sharks in north America in captivity.
The line was moving quite fast and before we knew it we were being admitted to the reef. We walked upstairs and picked up our neat hand held tour guide. I was instructed to hold it like a phone and to push the buttons that correspond with the displays.
The first thing that we saw was a nile Croc. I was very impressed as it was a very large croc. As we moved on we got to see Komodo Dragon they were so close yet so far away. It was very neat to be able to get down to there level and really look them in the eye.
As we continued on we were able to see red bellied piranha, skates and rays, Eels, Jellyfish galore. Then as we moved deeper into the reef and deeper under the water we discovered a sunken pirate ship that housed the sharks and all the larger fish. As we walked in there are several area's that you are able to veiw the sharks that are swimming around. I found the best spot was the spot that showed the ground of the ocean below us, as I looked down I noticed that there were several hammerhead sharks hanging out down in this area. We were able to view them as long as we wanted and to take as many pictures as we wanted as well.
I would have to say that the best part of the visit for us was the hands on area. We were able to touch a baby nurse shark, several rays and skates as well as horseshoe crabs. There were also tanks that were housing jelly fish and you were able to ask questions to the expert about the jelly fish. My daughter was amazed to learn that Jelly fish only have a simple nervous system. Not like many of the other animals she had seen swimming around her.
I would have to say that this was a great experience for us both as we both really had a good time and are looking forward to when we can do it again. The shark reef is a great experience that really makes your vegas trip even more special.
This review has been posted on Igougo my username there is Autumnrose2008.
I've been to Las Vegas twice over the past year and many people will be aware that each hotel resort has its own attraction. The Aladdin has an indoor rainstorm, the Luxor its IMAX cinema and the MGM Grand has real lions on the casino floor (behind glass I might add). The Mandalay Bay, located at the top of the famous strip has an indoor aquarium that boasts the only Hammerhead Shark in the United States of America and after seeing a number of leaflets advertising the 2 million gallons of water and 1200 species of aquatic life I knew I had to pay a visit.
Shark Reef is located on the ground floor of the Mandalay Bay and is only accessible via the casino floor. Open from 10 a.m. until 11p.m. the entrance is a considerable distance from the main doors so ensure that you have your comfortable walking shoes on.
I like the people we visited with were of the impression that the shark on the front of the leaflets was indeed the big brother of Jaws, a Great White and it was with great excitement that we joined a small queue to purchase tickets.
Adult tickets cost $15.95 (approx £9.50), children aged 12 - 4 years old cost $9.95 (approx £5.85) and children under the age of 4 enter for free. All ticket prices are inclusive of State taxes.
Tickets in hand we then joined the very small queue to enter and at this point we were railroaded in front of a shark backdrop and a photograph was taken which could be purchased at the end of the visit for $7.95. Normally I wouldn't have parted with cash for a photo but as I thought this would be a once in a lifetime experience, as we were leaving I did buy the photograph that was nicely presented.
Slightly dazed from the camera flash we were then handed a numbered map showing the layout of the aquarium along with an information wand similar to a handheld metal detector. The numbers on the map corresponded with a commentary given on the wand. Unfortunately, my wand was faulty and therefore my commentary consisted of plenty of static and not much information but this didn't really detract from the whole experience, throughout the tout there are cards on every tank containing information on the species, habitat and a brief rundown on what they liked to eat and whether they were an endangered species.
Entering the actual aquarium the first thing that struck me was that it was exceptionally humid, with jungle sounds being pumped through the sound system all adding to the actual feel of the place. Unlike UK aquariums where there is simply row after row of tanks, Shark Reef is fitted out like the natural environment of the animals contained within each area. They are of course within tanks, but it made it more believable that you were viewing each creature in its natural habitat.
Walkways were very wide, and there were no steps within the entire aquarium making this a disabled friendly attraction. Although it was quiet overall when we visited you can imagine that the walkways are designed to process thousands of visitors during the peak season. On with the tour.....
First up was Golden Crocodiles which I didn't find amusing in the slightest. You could sense their boredom as their tanks were incredibly small leaving them very little room to turn around. In the 20 minutes were spent in the crocodile area, not once did I see them actually move. It was fascinating to see such beautiful creatures at such close proximity but I would have preferred it if they had been in bigger tanks actually swimming around. Given that there are only around 12 Golden Crocodiles left in existence you would hope that the 5 at Shark Reef would be given a little bit of preferential treatment when it came to tank size.
Following from the crocodile area, you move in the exotic fish area, which has 10 - 15 large tanks packed full of very large piranha and a number of South American species such as Arapaima Gigas which on further research is the largest fish found in the River Amazon. The one we saw was around 4 feet long however in time, this will grow to up to 14 feet in length!!
Passing through the first if the two tunnels we entered the touch pool area where we encountered the first bottleneck in tourists. Throughout the tour so far we had been able to move freely and didn't have to wait to look into tanks, but the touch pool area was packed with children waiting to touch the southern rays and crabs. We waited here for a while just to watch the feeding of the rays which was interesting. I had never known anything to go into such a frenzy when food was placed in the pool!
After leaving this area you come across a tube tank that reached from floor to ceiling and is packed with jellyfish. On first look I thought "wow" as they seemed to be huge, but on closer inpection it was clear that the tank was magnifying their size. It was still cool though.
After moving swiftly on we came to the main shark tank and again we ran into crowds. It was clear which sections were the most interesting and we had to wait a few minutes to get close enough to the glass. The actual tank is huge and contained the Hammerhead Shark. We wandered up and down for a while looking for Jaws, but alas, he wasn't there and after asking a very confused, but amused member of staff advised that they didn't have a Great White. Major downer!
Despite this disappointment, I found the shark tank the most interesting section. Within the tank there were a number of varieties of sharks (Hammerhead, Sand Tiger and Tiger), sea turtles and extremely large rays. Standing in the dark tunnel it did actually feel as though I was stood on the floor of the ocean looking up at the magnificent beasts circling above. An awe inspiring moment and much better than any of my experiences at aquariums in the UK.
After walking down the tunnel you enter the gift shop that sells everything from candy, sharks teeth and nail clippers to cuddly toys and T-shirts. Everything was reasonably priced, but nothing actually jumped up and shouted buy me. It is as you leave the gift shop that you can purchase the photograph taken at the beginning of the tour and you hand in the wands.
It took around an hour to wander at a gentle pace through Shark Reef and for what I saw I was impressed with this attraction. I didn't like the sight of the crocodiles in such small tanks and was disappointed when I discovered I wasn't going to come face to face with Jaws but contained within the aquarium was enough to keep me amused for a while and standing in the main tunnel watching a Hammerhead Shark pass within inches of my head is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Would I visit again? No, personally I wouldn't visit again unless they added bigger and more deadly sharks, but I would recommend that anyone visiting Las Vegas takes in Shark Reef before they leave. Nothing you could possibly see in the UK can compare with the atmosphere and size of this place.
A must do before you die......
Thank for taking the time to read and rate.
Other Useful Info:
The Mandalay Bay is located on the strip and can be accessed on foot, by taxi or via the Monorail service that runs from the Excalibur and Luxor hotels.
When it finally sank in that I was going to Vegas last Christmas I started to research the city and find places Id like to visit. One of the first to catch my eye was the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay hotel at the top of The Strip. Im fascinated by sharks and thought this would be worth seeing, especially having read on a website that they had a full size Great White. It did seem to be slightly unlikely but after all this is Vegas and nothing would have surprised me. So on the Monday morning we set out along The Strip with the Shark Reef as our destination and the cocktail bar as a sidetrack.
It was about the middle of the day we actually reached the Shark Reef and the queues werent too bad. We waited for about 2 or 3 minutes to actually buy our tickets and then a little while longer to be handed our information wand and have a memorial photo taken. It cost us $15.95, which works out about the same as it costs to go to the Sealife Centres in this country. For kids it costs about $6 less and if youre a Nevada resident it's even cheaper still. At the time we werent sure if this offered good value for money or not as we only had a large map and guide book descriptions to go on.
So having had a rather cheesy picture taken by their resident photographer, which Steve later bought for about $6 we began to walk through Shark Reef. Before you start they give you a special wand, which allows you to select a language and provides a guided tour throughout the reef. Or at least it would have done had they actually worked. Each section has a different code on the wand and try as we might, out of 4 wands I dont think any of them actually worked. Instead we decided to read the cards posted around the walls and the information inside the Shark Reef Passport. A small supplementary guide book given to you when you buy the tickets.
The tour starts off with a section devoted to Golden Crocodiles, which although quite interesting from a being that close point of view isnt all that exciting. There is one crocodile per small sized swimming pool, which just seems to encourage them to lay there and do very little. Its then your typical Sealife Centre. There are a number of large, glass fish tanks with a number of exotic fish in each the same as youd expect to find at most aquariums. By this point I was starting to feel a little disappointed and didnt really feel we were getting great value for money.
We arrived at the first of two walk through tunnels and with a couple of sharks in here it was starting to get interesting again. The biggest problem I found here was the depth of the water didnt allow the sharks to swim across the top of the tank as it was far too shallow. This meant they stayed further into the tank and made it much harder to actually see any of them. At the end of the first tunnel is another room, this time containing a couple of large fish tanks and a smaller, open pool.
The pool is in the middle of the room and contains a small selection of rays, you can stroke and generally put your hands in with. Its advisable not to do it during feeding time as it looks like you may come out minus a finger or two. Although this was quite interesting, again I dont really feel it justified the entrance fee, in fact I was yet to see anything that did. Even the big tube of jelly fish didnt really impress me that much but again its nothing that cant be seen in the Sealife Centre in Birmingham.
It was then that we came to the final section of the Shark Reef, the main tank. The first thing we noticed was the lack of a sign relating to a Great White, the second thing being the passport focussed more on a Hammerhead Shark. The Shark Reef doesnt have a Great White as stated on several sites, but it is the only place in the US to successfully integrate a Hammerhead Shark into an aquarium. This was actually quite an amazing thing to see as Id never seen one up close, but I still felt a little let down by the lack of a Great White.
After the initial disappointment I still found the larger shark tank to be incredibly interesting. Its a huge tank that stretches for miles and with various different types of sharks in there it is quite fascinating. You can literally be within 8mm of these amazing creatures, as a 7mm thick glass is all that separates you from the sharks beyond. Ive always though sharks were amazing and it never ceases to amaze me quite how interesting it can be to see them in places like this. The final section takes you back outside and into the customary gift shop where you can buy overpriced shark memorabilia.
Overall the Shark Reef isnt worth the entrance fee but if you can get a money off voucher then I certainly recommend visiting. I cant justify the full $16 dollars or so for what is actually available within the Reef. It is advised that you set aside about an hour to see it all properly but while we were there Id say 30 minutes was more than adequate. It may need more in the summer but that will be down to the sheer volume of people rather than what there actually is to see. It is a good way to spend half an hour but there were other things Id possibly rather have been doing.
Your passport waits for an adventure that will put you face to face with some of the most dangerous and exotic animals in the world. Your journey through the ancient sunken temple will thrill you. If you dare.