Santa will dive with the sharks as one of the holiday offerings in December at the Connecticut attraction. He’ll also visit to take children’s wish lists, and be seen in the animated Hollywood film “The Polar Express” on the Aquarium’s giant IMAX screen.
Santa Claus will be popping up at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, including a few scuba dives in with the sharks, as part of the Connecticut attraction’s schedule of bonus holiday offerings in December.
A visit to the Aquarium is always a gift, thanks to the sharks, seals, river otters, jellyfish, sea turtles and other marine animals, as well as the amazing daily IMAX® documentaries.
But this holiday season offers a few extra special presents for kids and families to enjoy:
“The Polar Express” on IMAX Nov. 29-Jan. 1. Renew (or begin) a family tradition by securing tickets for a magical ride to the North Pole as “The Polar Express” steams back onto The Maritime Aquarium’s six-story IMAX screen for a limited holiday engagement. Based on the Caldecott Award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, “The Polar Express” follows a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus but gets taken on a magical Christmas Eve trip to the North Pole.
Digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX format, the animated film has Tom Hanks lending his voice and likeness to several main roles, including the train conductor, a mysterious hobo and Santa Claus.
“The Polar Express” will play Nov. 29-Dec. 22 at 4 & 7:30 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays and at 4 p.m. Sundays. From Dec. 26-Jan. 1, “The Polar Express” will play at 4 & 7:30 p.m. daily (except just at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31). Specially priced.
Visits from Santa on Sat., Dec. 7 and Sat., Dec. 14. The Maritime Aquarium is pleased to welcome that “right jolly old elf,” Santa Claus, for two special visits in December. Children can bring their wish lists and share them on Santa’s lap on Sat., Dec. 7 and Sat., Dec. 14. Times are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring a camera to snap a keepsake memory. The Santa visits are free with Maritime Aquarium admission.
Santa Dives With Sharks. On select dates in December, Santa Claus will join The Maritime Aquarium’s dive team to demonstrate that sharks aren’t the blood-thirsty killers of myth. Santa will strap on scuba gear and enter the Aquarium’s 110,000-gallon “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit, which is home to 7-foot sand tiger and lemon sharks. It’s all part of the regular dive-team program, in which Aquarium visitors can see – and talk with – divers swimming in the exhibit on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:15 & 2:15 p.m.
Check the Aquarium’s website www.maritimeaquarium.org for specific dates.
Viewing the Santa shark dives is free with Aquarium admission.
“Festival of Lighthouses Contest” daily through Jan. 20. Enjoy this bonus display of imaginative handcrafted lighthouses – and then vote for your favorite – in the Aquarium’s 12th annual holiday exhibit.
Visitors’ votes will determine the winners of this exhibit, which presents 22 large model lighthouses throughout the aquarium galleries. First prize is $1,500.
The lighthouses are the creations of regional artists, crafts people and just folks with an idea. Entries this year include: a lighthouse made from Twinkies®, Ho Hos® and other Hostess snack cakes; a gingerbread lighthouse; one made of green plastic soda bottles; a lighthouse that celebrates the children’s board game Candy Land; and a World Series lighthouse set in a baseball stadium.
The exhibit is free with Aquarium admission.
Winter Creature Cruises. Bundle up for a fun journey out onto Long Island Sound in hopes of seeing some of the seals that spend the winter just off our shores.
These invigorating cruises seek out the harbor seals and gray seals that migrate down into the Sound each winter. Educators on board the research vessel Oceanic will point out these federally protected marine mammals and talk about their natural histories. They’ll also help identify such winter waterfowl as buffleheads, mergansers and long-tailed ducks.
The 2013-14 Winter Creature Cruise season kicks off the weekend of Dec. 28-29 and will be offered on many Saturdays & Sundays through April 5. Dates and departure times will vary by the tide schedule. Initial cruises are Sat., Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 29 at 1:30 p.m. See the full season schedule at www.maritimeaquarium.org.
Tickets are $22.95, or $17.95 for Aquarium members. Participants must be at least 42 inches tall. Bring binoculars and plenty of warm clothes!
Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Walk-up tickets will be sold, space permitting.
For more information about Maritime Aquarium offerings in December, or to reserve tickets or to purchase a membership for yourself or as a gift, call (203) 852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org.